Drumming up new hire orientation ideas that are effective and engaging seems daunting, but the payoff is worth it. Because a large percentage of turnovers occur in the first month on a job, it’s important to make the best first impression possible while quickly equipping a new employee for success and productivity.
Before you start, plan your new employee orientation with the end in mind. What does a new hire need to know, and when do they need to know it? Does it make sense to spread the orientation over a handful of days, or is it better to do it all at once? Also, be sure that your orientation reflects the culture of your organization. Is your business culture defined by elegance? Excitement? Everything about the orientation should reflect that culture. Finally, be thorough and organized, and do not wing it. If you do, the new employee will think that's the standard.
If you’re feeling stuck in regards to new employee orientation activities, or you just need to spice it up, consider the following 10 actionable new hire orientation activities for a quick, painless, efficient, and creative orientation.
1. Deck their desk.
There’s nothing quite as demoralizing for a new employee than walking into an office, cubicle, or workspace that is empty or mostly unimpressive. Keeping in mind the culture of your work environment, celebrate the new arrival with balloons, signs, company swag, or other celebratory decoration all over their workspace. You want them to be impressed and excited that you cared to celebrate their arrival.
2. Pack their packet.
Most new hires receive an orientation packet of sorts. Use this to your advantage by including more than just the employee handbook. Any materials that will be used during new hire orientation should be included. Additionally, include other resources such as maps, a list of nearby restaurants and coffee shops, and other helpful tips and tools that may not be directly work-related. You might be to include a “look book” with a pictorial staff and/or leadership directory.
Get creative not just with the information in the packet but also with the packaging. Use colors, tab everything, experiment with different styles of notebook, and get your marketing team involved to make it exciting. If your company or organization is tech-heavy, then instead of a notebook, present the new employee with brand new technology that has all of the new hire orientation information pre-loaded and ready to go. Nothing is quite as exciting as getting new tech, so this is a double-win for you.
3. Give good gifts.
This should be a given, but maybe it needs to be re-evaluated. Company swag, but only the coolest versions, are a must. Nice office supplies that exceed the quality of what can typically be found in-house can be a way to both deck the desk and give a gift. One way to ensure that your gift communicates value to the new employee would be to have them complete a “My Favorite Things” form before arriving. These can be found on Pinterest and blogs and are easily adapted to a professional setting. This allows you to gift them things you know they’ll love.
4. Flex their start (or end) time.
This has benefits for both the employee and the employer. Learning something new, and teaching someone new, requires an enormous amount of effort and energy, so start late and end early if possible on the first day.
5. Assign seats.
Being new is hard enough; don’t make them fish for a place to sit. The details can make all the difference, so have name-tags ready at every seat that are color-coded for their team. If seated at tables, create a theme for every table and have coordinated name-tags or welcome packets. Make it easy for them to make friends on their first day.
6. Provide tools for learning.
Everyone learns differently, and if the plan is for new hires to sit for extended periods at tables, cover each table with a paper tablecloth and place pipe cleaners and markers on each table as tools for kinesthetic learners. They can keep their hands busy while they keep their minds focused.
7. Play games and award prizes.
Games can be particularly fun for large groups of new hires and can also be adapted for small groups and individuals. Resource scavenger hunts, trivia, or Guess Who games can be both instructive and engaging, and they can be tailored to meet almost any workplace. Scavenger hunts in teams can also help new hires get to know each other. Award good, or at least memorable, prizes for the winners.
8. Feed them.
Food builds community. One engaging way to feed new staff is over lunch with company leadership. Most new employees will rarely see the boss, so make sure they get ample facetime by coordinating a question and answer session over lunch. Have someone facilitate the conversation with pre-vetted questions, and allow new hires to ask anything. Don’t be afraid to get personal!
9. Launch a “New Staff Club”.
Build a sense of community among new hires so they have a natural sense of belonging from Day 1. Organize a happy hour, plan future lunches or coffees, and give them the launch they need to carry it forward.
10. Build out the week.
Think through the days following orientation and make a plan. Utilize a mentor model or other buddy system to ensure someone is checking on the new hire, taking them to lunch, and showing them “secrets” of the office. Pair them with the all-stars on the team for specific pieces of training, and spend ample one-on-one time with them asking questions and communicating expectations and values.
The best employees deserve the best, so don’t skimp on orientation. If you want employees to engage and remain loyal, make sure they know that where they are is the best place to be and work. Impress them with your professionalism from day one with the best new hire experience possible.