How Do You Conduct Job Orientation During COVID-19?
Orientation is usually an opportunity for companies to welcome new employees, set up their workstation, and introduce them to colleagues on their first few days. However, with companies still operating remotely—some for good—how can employers introduce new hires to the company culture and conduct productive orientation when they aren’t in the office?
Defined: What is Job Orientation?
Every company’s orientation will look a little different, but orientation typically introduces a new employee to a company’s culture when they join the team. This can include a welcome meal, where new employees meet other members of the team during the first day, presentations, and other traditions within the company.
Orientation is a part of onboarding, which is the process of integrating a new employee into the organization. The onboarding process includes a series of introductions and tutorials that help a new employee better understand their roles and responsibilities as well as the company itself. It also includes things like reviewing the employee handbook and filling out compliance paperwork like Form I-9. Orientation only takes place once, whereas onboarding is ongoing.
Orientation is important because the first day or two of a job can be a make-or-break period for retention efforts. If reducing turnover is the end goal in developing your remote onboarding, then your orientation process must ensure new hires feel welcome, supported, and familiar with the culture.
Tips for Remote Job Orientation
When part of a well-managed remote onboarding strategy, remote job orientation can still help new hires feel welcome and get a feel for the company culture.
- Spell Out Remote Orientation Expectations. Having a schedule will help new hires know what to expect during orientation. Just like a high school freshman orientation, send a detailed schedule of events, including housekeeping items like check-in calls throughout the day, a lunch meeting, breaks, and when the day is expected to end. Also, spell out how long orientation will last—is it a one-day event, or multiple days? Knowing what to expect will help the new hire become familiar with how the company operates and help them become more comfortable in their new role, despite not being in the office.
- Introduce New Hires to the Company’s Culture Guide. Employers should start introducing cultural components and expectations as early as the new hire’s very first day. By communicating your company’s employee handbook and/or Culture Guide during a remote orientation, managers can more effectively communicate culture and mission to new hires. This information will make the new hire feel like part of the team from the very beginning, even if they haven’t stepped foot in the office yet. This should be written down ahead of time—again, this is a benefit of having a Culture Guide in place. If your company has a Culture Guide, go over the guide on a video call to make sure new hires have read and understood the information.
- Adapt Orientation Traditions That Can Work Remotely. Orientation usually includes team-building traditions that every employee goes through. For example, every new hire on the BerniePortal team reads The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Schedule a virtual team lunch to chat about non-work-related topics. These simple yet important traditions help new hires feel like they’re part of the team from day one, which is why it’s vital to continue these practices remotely. Provide reimbursement for a lunch delivery of the new hire’s choosing and conduct a lunch meeting over a video call.
- Organize Introduction Calls. If new hires are being onboarded remotely, they’re missing out on the conversations that happen organically with team members during orientation in the office. Encourage new hires to conduct video calls with the team members they’ll work alongside on a daily basis. Show your new hire what makes your team and your company special—and demonstrate why you’re happy to have them on the team.
- Don’t Skip the Goodies. If your company gifts new hires with swag—think company sweatshirts, mugs, treats from local businesses or vendor partners—assemble the package ahead of time and mail it to your new hires. Receiving a token of the company in the mail helps get new hires excited to be a part of the team and culture from day one.
- Introduce Employees to 30-60-90s. To help give new employees a snapshot of expectations for their role and what’s to come, have a 30-60-90 plan prepared. A 30-60-90 is a list of tasks that an employee should aim to accomplish by 30 days, 60 days, then 90 days, so it helps chart a course for success for the first three months. Keep these tasks manageable and logical, eventually escalating in responsibilities as time goes on—your new hire should be able to see their growth in their role mapped out in clear, achievable goals.
A lot of planning and organization goes into the orientation and onboarding process, especially when conducting it remotely. The following resources can help:
- How to Online Onboard New Hires
- BernieU Course: Building a Remote Workforce
- What is Employee Onboarding?
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