New Employee Orientation: How to Onboard New Employees

Eric Green
January 15, 2021

Creating a great employee onboarding program has numerous benefits. Most notably, it increases employee retention, and helps a new hire ramp-up to full productivity more quickly.

The time and money spent to find a new hire varies by company but can add up to thousands of dollars per person. That’s a lot of resources wasted if the new employee quickly leaves the company. From this point of view, good onboarding is simply maximizing your investment in training.

New employees often report that their onboarding was too short, inadequate, and left them feeling adrift in a sea of information. Why do so many companies skimp on the onboarding process when it’s so important?

Why Onboarding Fails

The first step in improving your employee onboarding process is identifying what needs work. If you find that your onboarding hasn’t been met with rave reviews, you could have one of these common issues:

  1. Your onboarding program is too short. Most companies only plan for a week of onboarding. Successful companies extend their onboarding to 30 days or longer.
  2. Your onboarding sessions are boring. There’s too much focus on paperwork and monotonous slideshows.
  3. You haven’t addressed the stress and anxiety that often come with a new job. This leaves new employees feeling isolated and confused.

The good news is that each of these issues has a solution. If you work with focus and intention on improving your employee onboarding experience, you will increase productivity, employee retention, and job satisfaction. Happy employees are a great source of referrals, reducing the time and financial costs of filtering applicants.

If you’re not certain which of these common problems applies to your company’s onboarding process, survey your employees. The best time for this is right after they’ve completed the process. Touching base again once the employee has settled in can also yield valuable insight.

Starting A Relationship

Onboarding is more than just hiring a new employee; it’s the start of a relationship. Think of what you might do to start any other type of relationship out on the right foot. 

You probably do your best to make a good impression. You should try to make the other person feel comfortable, valued, and heard. The elements that start any good relationship need to be incorporated into your onboarding process as well.

A good place to start your employee relationships is by getting to know each other. Identify commonalities, discover strengths, and nurture interest from both sides. Your employee applied to your company because they saw something they identified with. You hired them because you saw value in their experiences. 

It’s vital that every employee feels equally valued. When you’re assessing your employee onboarding process, make sure you are being inclusive of women, people of color, and those with physical or psychological challenges. People in these groups are more likely to feel isolated or marginalized. 


Your relationship with the new employee starts before they walk in the door on their first day. A key element to making your new person feel welcomed and comfortable is to be prepared for their arrival. This means setting them up for success and identifying internal resources.

A few things you should have in place before onboarding day:

You can reduce the time they spend completing tedious tasks like tax paperwork by sending it to them ahead of time. Just keep these documents to a minimum. Nobody appreciates being asked to do work they’re not being paid for.

What’s Your Style?

Research shows that, despite the hype around learning styles, classifying them isn’t very useful. The premise is that everyone learns differently and needs a teaching style that matches them to learn effectively. 

The important takeaway from teaching styles is not that they should match learning styles, but that there’s an optimum teaching style for each subject. This, more than anything else, is a good reason to vary your employee onboarding education.

Do not sit your new employees in a room for an entire day of watching PowerPoint presentations. It’s not stimulating, it’s sedentary, and it invites disengagement. Think about the last time you were required to watch a boring business presentation. Did you look at your phone? Did you take too many bathroom breaks or get up for coffee several times?

To keep engagement high during your employee onboarding, use a range of activities. For every hour they’re sedentary, you should have an activity that gets people up and moving. Tour the department or the building. Take the group for a coffee break. Leading simple stretching exercises will wake people up.


After assessing your current employee onboarding strategy, you might find that you’re not dedicating enough time to the process. New employees often feel overwhelmed with the amount of information they’re expected to absorb in a short amount of time.

How much time you allot to onboarding will depend on the job position, your company’s industry, and the tasks required for the job. A successful onboarding program is focused and consistent. Make a list of your onboarding goals to help you pinpoint desired outcomes.

Ask yourself these questions:

You may consider having the employee spend half the day in orientation style meetings and the other half with a mentor. Mentoring a new employee can help form strong bonds that encourage employee retention. 

Spice It Up

Avoid new employee disengagement during onboarding by livening things up a bit. Games may seem childish but they’re great at icebreaking. Friendly competition stimulates the brain, aids in information retention, and can foster camaraderie. 

Here are a few game ideas:

The point of these activities is not only to give everyone’s brains a break but to help them feel a sense of community. When they finish onboarding and begin their normal schedules, they will know at least a few familiar faces.

Stress Reduction

It’s not easy starting a new job. Extroverts may spend a lot of time engaging with their new coworkers but may be nervous about learning new tasks. Introverts might like having their own personal workspace but have trouble assimilating into the office community. 

Every person responds to new job stress differently. There are a few things, however, that can help anyone feel at home. Employees who feel confident and at ease adapt more quickly and are more productive.

Here are some suggestions to help ease new job anxiety:

Wrapping Up

You will get out of your onboarding program what you put into it. If you invest in your new employees during this crucial time, they’ll likely be with the company long enough to make that investment pay off. If you treat it as a troublesome inconvenience, your new employee may not feel valued and start looking for another position within a year.

Enhancing your onboarding & training process is made easier when you have a robust talent management system. That’s why Criterion has developed a new talent engagement solution to help you streamline your recruiting process, design unique onboarding experiences, create custom training workflows, and drive productivity.

Interested in learning more? Book your demo today.

Eric Green
Director of Sales
Executive Sales Leader with 10+ years’ experience of strong sales and revenue generating skills, which led to consistently accelerating sales growth and have an ability to set up teams that close deals.

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