New-Hire Orientation

After the new-hire paperwork is completed, the following hour or two should consist of an orientation to help the new employee feel welcome and begin a smooth transition into the company. The orientation may be lead by either you or an employee who has been trained to handle the task. It is important that consistent information be given to all new hires, and that as policies change the staff is notified accordingly. With this practice, new staff members, as well as the not-so-new ones, will have the same information. Many managers find it helpful to develop an orientation checklist to ensure that all pertinent information is covered on an employee's first day.

There is a lot for a new employee to absorb on the first day of work. The orientation should not be rushed, and the employee should get your undivided attention. This is an important day for her and will set the tone on how accessible you will be when she needs something, as well as how thorough you are in keeping employees up to date. Following are some things to cover during the orientation.

Attendance Issues

Let the employee know what time work starts each day and when she is expected to clock in and out (for example, if work starts at 8:00 A.M., you may not clock in earlier than 7:55 A.M.). If the work schedule varies each week, let her know where and when the schedule is posted, the procedure for switching days with another employee, and how to request a day off. Discuss what to do if she is ever going to be late for work or is sick and cannot come in.

If employees are not allowed on company property during nonwork hours, let new employees know. Your workers' compensation insurance may not cover them if they are injured on the property while off the clock. This is the most common reason why employers do not allow hourly employees to be on the premises.

Many companies put into effect an “introductory period” for the first thirty to ninety days after a new employee is hired. This time is used to determine if the person is indeed a good match for the job. Benefits usually do not go into effect during this period. If you designate an introductory period, let the employee know.

Personal Property at Work

Employees who bring a purse to work should be advised how to keep it safe and where to put it. If radios are allowed, set a limit on volume and let it be known. In this high-tech age, many people like to bring a cell phone to work or even a laptop to tinker with while on a break. Employees will need to know if the ringer on their cell phone is to be turned off during working hours and if it is okay to plug into the company's electricity or Internet access when using their laptop.

Breaks and Lunch

When are breaks, how long are they, and where should they be taken? Designated smoking areas should be pointed out to all employees, whether or not they smoke. If loitering in the parking lot is not allowed, now is the time to share that information, but let employees know if it is okay to sit in their cars on company property during break or lunch. Some people like to do this to read, use their cell phone in privacy, or just have some peace and quiet. Sitting in a car isn't usually considered loitering, since the employee is off the clock and owns the car, so it should be allowed as long as they are not disruptive.

Employees are unlikely to make personal phone calls on the first day of work, but this is the perfect day to bring up your policy to avoid having it abused later.

Pay and Benefits

This is why people work, and their pay and benefits are of the utmost importance. Salary was discussed when the job offer was made, but the employee will now want to be familiar with the payroll calendar. Let her know how often she will be paid and on what days (every Friday, alternate Wednesdays, or the first and fifteenth of the month). Employees will also want to know when they will receive their first paycheck and how many days of pay they will receive. If they started midcycle in the payroll period, their check may be for three days of work instead of five, or seven days of work instead of ten if payday is biweekly.

Show the employee how the pay periods work. On a calendar, point out the first and last days of the current pay period, when payroll is processed, and on what day the checks arrive. This will give her a better understanding of how many days she will have on her first check.

Inform the employee where and when paychecks are distributed and what the procedures are for having a family member pick up their paycheck should the need arise. Also, advise them to look at their check stub carefully to ensure accuracy; people and computers are not perfect. If there is an error on the employee's paycheck, you want to know about it promptly so that you can have it fixed.

People will want to know when they can expect a pay raise. Some companies give one at the end of successfully passing the introductory period. Others give them once an employee has worked for six or twelve months, or a combination of both or all three. Raises may also be given to everyone across the board at the end of the year or the company's fiscal year. If a performance evaluation is tied to the percentage of increase someone will receive, let them know this. It's a great incentive for a person to work harder. A lot of people expect at least an annual cost-of-living raise. If this applies, let them know.

If there are any benefits that are included in the compensation, give the employee the enrollment materials and the procedures for signing up. Explain who qualifies as an eligible dependent on the insurance plans.

If the employee needs to sign up for insurance plans by a specific date to avoid a delay or denial in coverage, give her this statement in writing and ask her to sign it. Make a copy for the employee and put the original in the personnel file. It is the employee's responsibility to turn in the paperwork on time.

If you offer paid time off such as holiday, vacation, or sick leave, let the employee know which holidays are covered, how many sick and vacation days are earned each year, when these benefits go into effect, and what the policies are to request the time off.

At the end of the orientation, ask the employee if she has any questions and let her know that you are available to answer them as they come up, whether it's now or in the future. It's a good idea to encourage employees to ask you or their supervisor the most important questions to make sure that they receive a correct answer. If they ask an employee who unknowingly has incorrect information or has their own opinion about something, the employee could end up breaking a rule or procedure.

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