Glossary of HR Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.


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Employee Orientation

New Employee Job Orientation: What Is It?

What Is Employee Orientation?

A new hire’s first few days on the job are critical for long-term retention. They set the tone for the employee’s engagement, productivity, and satisfaction in their role. 

This is where employee orientation comes in. Orientation is more than just a routine process — a well-designed orientation program helps new employees understand the company’s culture, rules, and expectations, setting them up for success. With the right orientation process, you can ensure your workers have the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.

Learn what employee orientation is, how it differs from onboarding, and what goes into a new employee orientation checklist.

Employee Orientation 101

An employee orientation is the process of introducing new hires to your company and their role within it. Orientation typically involves providing information about your organization, reviewing policies and procedures, and giving new employees the opportunity to ask questions and clarify what you expect from them. 

During orientation, you may ask new hires to complete paperwork such as filling out tax forms and signing contracts. You may provide an office tour and make official introductions between them and their team members. An effective orientation helps new employees feel comfortable in their new environment and understand their job responsibilities, setting the stage for higher employee happiness and reducing turnover among new hires.

Orientation vs. Onboarding: What’s the Difference?

You may see the terms “orientation” and “onboarding” used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. 

Employee orientation is generally a one-time event that introduces new employees to the workplace, company policies, and their job duties. It’s a stage of onboarding usually conducted shortly after an employee joins the organization, but could include steps before their first day. New-hire orientation prioritizes the basics employees need to begin work, such as knowledge of systems of work and the employee handbook.

Employee onboarding is a longer-term process that focuses on helping an employee become integrated into the workplace and succeed in their role. It is an ongoing process that may include orientation-like activities, such as a review of job duties, but also involves specific skills training, manager feedback and guidance, and helping the employee build relationships with co-workers. Onboarding can last for weeks or even months, using that time to build and strengthen relationships between new hires and their teams.

6 Benefits of a Well-Executed Employee Orientation

Orientation is an important step in the onboarding process, helping new hires feel comfortable in their new roles and ready to hit the ground running in their first week on the job. Check out these six ways employee orientation promotes better outcomes for new hires.

Accelerates Onboarding

By providing new hires with the information and tools they need to succeed, orientation accelerates their onboarding process and reduces the time it takes to get up to speed. Once they’ve been briefed on the organization and their role within it, new hires can ask more targeted questions about what to prioritize, reducing time to productivity and empowering them to have a greater impact, faster.

Boosts Confidence

Employee orientation can help boost your new hires’ confidence by providing a comprehensive overview of the job and its expectations as well as introducing them to company culture and their teammates. During orientation, HR, managers, and teammates are all accessible to new hires, giving them a chance to ask questions and feel more comfortable in their new environment. 

Improves Retention

Through orientation, employees can develop a sense of belonging and understanding of the company’s mission, values, and objectives. Seeing their role within the bigger picture gives team members a greater sense of purpose, which renews engagement and drives job satisfaction. Ultimately, infusing an employee’s work with purpose from the very beginning leads to lower employee‌ turnover.

Promotes Compliance

Orienting employees to the company’s policies and procedures helps to ensure that employees understand the rules and expectations set forth by the company. This allows employees to understand and remain compliant with the company’s regulations and procedures, thus contributing to a safe and productive work environment.

Fosters a Sense of Belonging

By introducing new employees to the company culture, values, and expectations, they’re better equipped to understand the organization and how they fit in. Orientation helps ‌employees feel welcome and accepted in their new environment. Build in opportunities during orientation for team members to get to know their new teammate as a person outside work, setting the stage for trusting relationships. 

Facilitates Networking

Through orientation, employees gain valuable insight into their new workplace and can develop relationships with their peers that can last for years. This helps create a stronger team that’s better able to collaborate and communicate effectively. You can use orientation to introduce new hires to team members across the organization, too, building connections across the workforce through programs like workplace mentors or a buddy system.

New Employee Orientation Checklist: 10 Key Elements

An effective orientation includes a lot of moving parts. Use this employee orientation checklist template to make sure you have your bases covered when introducing new hires to your organization.

Collect New Hire Paperwork

First, make sure that the new hire has all of the necessary paperwork they need to complete. This may include tax forms, registration forms, and other legal documents, which you may send over ahead of their first day.

Once the paperwork is gathered, on day one, the supervisor or HR representative should review it with the new hire to ensure they understand all of the forms and their responsibilities. Finally, the new hire should sign each form to acknowledge the information and to indicate their agreement to the terms outlined in the documents. 

Share a Company Overview

A company overview helps new hires understand their purpose as employees and the culture they’re joining. The overview should include information about the company’s history, mission, values, and structure. It also should have a description of the products and services the company offers and any significant accomplishments or honors.

Provide a Workplace Tour

For in-person work, show the employee around the office, including the break room, conference rooms, and other offices. Make sure to point out any safety hazards and emergency exits. For remote employees, introduce new hires to digital workspaces and set expectations for their use. Explain the tools and resources they’ll need to get their work done and how to navigate those spaces.

Clarify Job Role Expectations

Ahead of employee orientation, give the new hire a detailed overview of their new duties and responsibilities. During employee orientation, schedule a time for managers to discuss the job description, answering any questions the new hire may have and ensuring they understand their responsibilities. Additionally, managers should provide examples of the kind of performance they expect.

Introduce Team Members

Connections with team members are key to establishing a positive employee experience. Start by briefly introducing each team member and their titles. Encourage team members to reach out ahead of orientation so the new hire can become familiar with their colleagues. During orientation, highlight each team members’ strengths and explain how they contribute to the team’s success. After the introduction, give the new hire an opportunity to ask questions and get to know each team member better.

Walk Through HR Policies and Procedures

Start by delivering the employee handbook to new hires before their first day, giving them time to read through carefully so they can be prepared to follow what it outlines on day one. If an employee needs to follow a certain dress code for safety reasons, for example, they need to know that before their first day. 

During orientation, give new hires the chance to ask questions. Emphasize that following these policies is essential for a successful, productive work environment. Finally, provide employees with a copy of the HR policies and procedures for future reference.

Lead Safety and Compliance Training

Before orientation, provide a detailed overview of safety and compliance standards employees must follow while on the job. During orientation, provide a brief overview of safety and compliance topics and give employees the chance to ask questions or provide feedback. Finally, provide employees with any relevant documents or resources they can reference in the future.

Set Up Technology and Software

Give new employees access to the tools they need to succeed. Before their first day, create user accounts for any company-provided software and technology they’ll need. Coordinate with IT to set up any necessary passwords or access codes the new hire needs, and provide them to the new employee ahead of their first day. 

Consider providing a walk-through of each piece of software or technology they’ll use. This should include any basic steps for logging in, navigating the system, and accessing any relevant documentation. Additionally, provide a contact or resources they can reach out to if they need help.

Enroll New Hires in Company Benefits

Ahead of orientation, provide new hires with benefits-related paperwork, including information about the company’s health insurance plans, retirement savings plans, and other automatic or optional benefits. During orientation, give team members the chance to meet with HR for additional information about the benefits available and to ask any questions they may have. 

Once the paperwork is finished, the HR department should provide new hires with instructions on how to enroll in the benefits they selected. This may include setting up online accounts, scheduling an appointment with a benefits counselor, or taking other steps, depending on the type of benefits offered.

Respond to Feedback and Questions

Be sure to listen carefully and answer questions as thoroughly as possible. Make sure to be patient and understanding, as new hires may feel overwhelmed and unsure. Remember that orientation lasts only a few days and that many new hires may not have questions just yet. Their questions may arise once they’ve worked for a few days, so during orientation, make sure new hires know where to go with specific questions as they evolve.

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Orientation

Have additional questions about the employee orientation process? Check out our responses to these frequently asked questions. 

How Long Should Employee Orientation Last?

The duration of employee orientation can vary based on the complexity of the role and the organization’s needs, but it typically ranges from one to a few days. When planning orientation, try to strike a balance between providing comprehensive information and avoiding overwhelming new hires.

Does Every New Hire Need an Orientation?

Yes, every new hire can benefit from an orientation process tailored to their role and the organization. Orientation ensures a smooth integration into the company’s culture, policies, and expectations, fostering a strong foundation for success.

Are Employees Paid for the Job Orientation Process?

Yes, new hires are typically compensated for their time spent in orientation. Compensation recognizes the time and effort they put into learning about the organization and their role within it.

How Can We Measure the Success of Our Orientation Program?

The success of an orientation program can be measured through various metrics, including new-hire engagement, time-to-productivity ratios, retention rates, and feedback from both new hires and their supervisors. Regular assessments and surveys can provide insight into the program’s effectiveness and areas for improvement.

How Often Should We Update Our Orientation Program?

It’s advisable to review and update your orientation program annually or whenever significant changes occur within the organization, such as updates to policies, procedures, or shifts in company culture. Keeping the program current ensures that new hires receive accurate and relevant information.

Orient New Hires Toward Success

Employee orientation is an onboarding trend that’s here to stay. That’s because an effective employee orientation isn’t just a one-time event: It’s a strategic investment in the growth and prosperity of both new hires and your business. A well-executed orientation bridges the gap between uncertainty and confidence, between a new hire and a valued contributor.

A successful orientation sets a positive tone for the entire employee lifecycle, impacting job satisfaction, performance, and retention. As new employees transition smoothly into their roles, they become part of a well-aligned workforce, capable of propelling the organization toward its goals.

Want to learn more about employee orientation and onboarding? Watch “From Stress to Success: Enboarder’s Onboarding Walkthrough” on demand.