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Orientation/Onboarding Intervention Strategies

Recruitment and Retention Toolkit   Orientation/Onboarding Intervention Strategies   The Basics of Employee Orientation and Onboarding 2.4.2

The Basics of Employee Orientation and Onboarding [2.4.2]

New employees form impressions of an organization during the first few days on the job and seek confirmation that joining the organization was the right decision. New employees are highly motivated to succeed and in a state of transition, so they are willing to test new behaviors as they adapt to their environment. Employers can seize this opportunity to present the organization in a positive light and shape desired behaviors in new employees.[1] This can be accomplished through an effective, inviting new hire orientation.

The Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton provides a detailed onboarding model based on best practices in employee orientation. The report recommends a year-long onboarding process to integrate new employees so that they gain a sense of commitment and become effective and productive more quickly. The model identifies five distinct phases during which the focus consistently remains on integrating the employee into the work environment, communicating the goals of the organization, and supporting engagement in work. The five phases are:
  • the period from acceptance of the job offer to the start date;
  • the first day orientation;
  • the first week of employment;
  • the first 90 days; and
  • the first year.
The first day and the first week are times to foster a positive energy by introducing the employee to his/her new environment and providing continuous support and feedback. Beyond the first week, it is important to maintain the energy created by providing meaningful work and encouraging managers and peers to help motivate and acculturate the new employee. A new employee should feel fully integrated by the end of the first 90 days. During this time, managers should continue to monitor performance and provide feedback by setting individual goals and reviewing performance objectives.

For some employees, the learning period and sense of newness continue beyond the first 90 days of employment, but most organizations do not extend the onboarding process beyond that point. The report suggests that employers should conduct performance reviews at 6 months and 1 year after hire, and continue to provide support and feedback to solidify engagement.

While completing required paperwork is a necessary part of any orientation, it should not be the focus of the program. Instead, emphasis should be placed on conveying information that will help new employees perform their jobs more effectively. In order to reduce the amount of paperwork required, the report suggests that employers establish technology and policies to allow new employees to complete this paperwork before the start date.[2]

[1] SESCO Management Consultants (2009). The importance of good employee orientation. Retrieved from
[2] Hansen, F. (2008). Onboarding for greater engagement. Workforce Management Online. Retrieved from

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