Think about your employee orientation experiences. What comes to mind? A long morning of paperwork? Listening to a member of HR walk you page-by-page through the employee handbook? A day stuck in a conference room signing disclaimers and other employee procedure forms?
When done robotically like this, employee orientation can discourage new hires. When handled creatively, employee orientation can be a fun and engaging experience that, according to research published in January 2015 in the journal Human Resource Management, results in higher job satisfaction and, as a result, higher motivation and commitment to the organization.
HR is an #orientation "influencer" tasked with strategy, plan and process. [Click to tweet]
Here are five creative employee orientation strategies that will help you nurture loyal, engaged new hires from day one:
1. Make HR processes interactive.
Learning more about company policies and HR processes is an important part of an employee orientation program, but it doesn’t always have to be boring.
Instead of walking new hires through every page of the employee handbook or discussing different policies adnauseum, try using simulations that get the new hire out of their seat, games that involve other members of the team, or interactive orientation software that helps make the process more efficient and engaging.
2. Get out of the conference room.
There’s no other way to put it -- spending a whole day in the conference room is boring. If you want to shake up your employee orientation program, start getting your new hires out of the conference room.
Schedule time for new hires to tour the office and meet the people with whom they will be working with starting on day one. Socializing with new co-workers and interacting with managers can be an effective way to have new hires start nurturing the kind of relationships that will make them more productive and engaged members of the team.
3. Start your new hires on a Friday.
In most organizations, Fridays tend to be somewhat more relaxed. Employees often have a bit more pep in their step as they look forward to the weekend. Is there any better day to start new hires?
Starting your new employee orientation program on a Friday gives you a little more freedom to introduce the new hire to co-workers and give them a proper welcome. When your new hire’s co-workers are more relaxed, they’re more likely to make your new hire comfortable.
Since it’s Friday, consider hosting a welcome breakfast, team lunch, happy hour or office get together to make your new employees feel more at home.
Once everyone has met, encourage your teammates to share fun stories or interesting anecdotes that highlight the company’s mission or culture. Not only will you be making your new hires more comfortable, but also you’ll be giving your current employees an opportunity to reflect on what they love about your organization.
4. Reward your new hires.
Gamification has been an emerging trend in hiring and employee orientation over the last few years. If possible, try to find ways to reward your new hires for the things they are learning. If you’ve taken the time to develop simulations or games that test the new hire’s knowledge, offer points for correct answers or superior performance that can be redeemed for company swag, free lunches or other prizes.
When you reward new hires during their employee orientation program, you’re giving them a reason to stay engaged throughout the day. Just be sure to make your rewards something that a new hire would want to pay attention for.
5. Create new hire teams.
If your organization is hiring several people at once, try creating new hire teams to keep things interesting. These teams, made up of different new hires with similar roles in the organization, can compete with one another, learn together, and lean on each other when they need help.
If you really want to keep these teams engaged, encourage them to meet periodically during their first year to share challenges, problems, and institutional knowledge that will help them grow professionally.
Consider how you can apply these and other creative strategies to create an employee orientation program that nurtures the kind of committed, productive employees that all organizations hope to employ.