New Hire Orientation Program: Best Practices

Learn how to make the best first impression and help your new employees start off on the right foot.

First impressions are everything.

According to a survey conducted by ServiceNow, about 80% of employees experienced some issues when starting a new job. 1 in 10 new hires reported that their company forgot it was their first day on the job entirely. Another study by BambooHR found that 31% of job seekers have left a job within six months of starting.

Such high employee turnover is expensive – yet entirely avoidable. Let's dive deeper into the reasons new employees leave and how to prevent it with a carefully planned orientation program.

What is new hire orientation?

According to the BambooHR survey, the top three reasons for jumping ship so soon were:

The good news is, these issues can be easily prevented with a thorough orientation program.

New employee onboarding checklist template

Employee orientation vs. employee onboarding

Orientation is often confused with onboarding. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same.

The employee onboarding process is continuous and can span several months. It begins with the new employee receiving their offer letter and ends when they become a fully productive member of the team. Onboarding includes training and practical experiences that give employees deeper insights into the company and their job.

Orientation, on the other hand, is just the first stage of the onboarding process – but it is the most important one. An orientation program aims to introduce new hires to their jobs, colleagues, responsibilities, and workplace.

Both need to be a core part of your human resource management strategy.

What to include in your orientation program

Deciding what to include in your orientation program may be challenging. After all, there is so much to learn about the company and the job and so many people to meet.

But don't try to fit everything into the first few days. Remember, onboarding is a gradual process and you will have months to help your employee fully ramp up their productivity. During the orientation, focus on getting the most important tasks out of the way.

Before the first day

The first stage of the new hire orientation program takes place between the time your new team member signs an offer letter and arrives for their first day of work.

This part of orientation is not just about paperwork – offering an online "pre-orientation" can give your new employee a head start. They will learn key information at their own pace and have time to absorb it, allowing them to focus on meaningful introductions during their first day.

New employee onboarding checklist in Nuclino

Orientation checklist to complete before the first day (created in Nuclino)

To easily keep track of all the tasks you need to complete during this stage, you may want to create a checklist. Nuclino can be a great tool for this. It's a unified workspace where you can share and collaborate on documents, manage projects, onboard new employees, take meeting minutes, collaborate on documents, and more. It works like a collective brain, allowing you to bring all your team's work together in one place and collaborate without the chaos of files and folders, context switching, or silos.

Your checklist can be as short or as long as you need. It commonly includes the following tasks and activities:

On the first day

Making your new hire's first day go without a hitch is critical. It is your best chance to make a positive, lasting impression. Get the logistical formalities out of the way and reserve the day for a warm, personal introduction to the team, your company culture, and the work environment.

New hire orientation best practices

In reality, most companies have new hire orientation programs that are entirely employer-centric. They focus on administration, logistics, and compliance, when they could be more candidate-centric, focusing on engagement.

As a result, many new hires question their decision to join the company by the end of their first day. While there are many different ways to structure an orientation program, there are several universal best practices that apply to most companies:

Internal wiki for new hire orientation

Internal wiki example (created in Nuclino)

While getting the new hire orientation program right is the first step, it's only half the battle. A common mistake is to assume your job is done after the employee had his welcome meeting, signed all the HR documents, and had an office tour. After the initial orientation is complete, the onboarding process continues and can last up to one year. Keep the new team member engaged during this time with regular check-in meetings and feedback sessions.

Your effort and patience will certainly pay off in the form of higher employee retention, performance, and engagement.

Nuclino: Your team's collective brain


Nuclino brings all your team's knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place. It's a modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate, without the chaos of files and folders, context switching, or silos.

Try it now

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