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Orientation/Onboarding Intervention Strategies

Walking through Orientation 2.4.2.b

A successful orientation program helps a new employee gain the skills and knowledge needed to function effectively in a new environment. Regardless of a new employee’s past job experience, knowing the technical and social aspects specific to the job and the company is essential. Lockwood and Tai (2006) state that an orientation program should allow a new employee to develop knowledge in the following areas:[1]

  • Performance proficiency. Learning and mastering the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the required work task.
  • People. Establish successful and satisfying work relationships with organizational members.
  • Politics. Gaining information regarding formal and informal work relationships and power structures.
  • Language. Understanding the profession’s technical language as well as acronyms, slang, and jargon unique to the organization.
  • Organizational goals and values. Understanding the rules of principles that maintain the integrity of the organization.
  • History. Learning the organization’s traditions, customs, myths, and the personal background of other members.
Use the Orientation Checklists [2.4.2.b.1] to assist you in including all the necessary components in your Orientation program, this resource can be modified to your organizational needs. There is also an orientation check list for supervisors (see Orientation Checklist for Supervisors [2.4.2.b.4]) that can be used if the orientation is given at the supervisory level rather then the Human Resources Department. This resource has additional listings at the department level. If one checklist is utilize these two resources should be combined.

To meet individual learning styles, an orientation should be as interactive as possible. One way to ease into the orientation program is to invite a senior person in the organization to welcome the new employee and reinforce the message that his or her contributions will be appreciated. Consider having other staff members – either veteran employees or those who were recent hires – share their experiences. Testimonials often have greater credibility than a prepared HR representative talk, and offer the opportunity for new employees to interact with and learn from coworkers.

If orientations are conducted for groups of new employees, encourage them to get to know each other. Having someone to call on who is in the same situation can help ease the transition and integrate new employees. Make it clear to new employees that they will be supported in their efforts to integrate and be successful in their new environment.[2]

No matter what the format, the following topics should be covered in an orientation program:[3]
  • Organization history and services;
  • Mission and goals;
  • Overview of organizational policies and practices related to equal opportunity, non-discrimination/non-harassment, health and safety, and benefits;
  • Organizational structure and management style (e.g., emphasis on teamwork, group problem solving, quality assurance, and open communication);
  • Organizational culture (e.g., workforce diversity, dress code, commitment to work/life balance, company-sponsored activities);
  • Interrelationship between the various departments and who leads them;
  • Career development opportunities including training courses, mentoring programs, tuition assistance plans, and internal transfer/promotion policies;
  • Explanation of the company's performance evaluation system;
  • Information about clients served; and
  • Facility tour.
Make sure to schedule time for a question-and-answer session at the end of the orientation program. Because some employees may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of the group, communicate availability to answer questions and provide assistance outside of orientation session.[4]

Distribute an evaluation form at the end of the orientation (see New Employee Orientation Evaluation Form [2.4.2.b.2] for a sample template). Stress that honest responses are appreciated so that future sessions can be modified accordingly. Make it clear that feedback is welcome at any time.

Follow up survey

A follow up survey to be completed after the first two to four months of employment is recommended. Once the employee has been working in the position his/her feedback on the effectiveness of the orientation can be useful in modifying or improving the orientation strategy. A suggested follow up survey is available (see Orientation Follow up Survey [2.4.2.b.3]).

[1] Lockwood, N., & Tai, B. (2006). Organizational Entry: Onboarding, Orientation and Socialization. Retrieved from,OrientationAndSocialization.aspx
[2] Morfeld, C. (2000). Successful employee orientation (Part 2). Retrieved from
[3] Morfeld, C. (2000). Successful employee orientation (Part 2). Retrieved from
[4] Morfeld, C. (2000). Successful employee orientation (Part 2). Retrieved from

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