Performance Management

12 Orientation

Orientation is an event that is structured and organized to focus on all the information a new employee needs to get started in a new job. Orientation is the best time to influence and shape perceptions and attitudes in new employees.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word orient means “to acquaint with an existing situation or environment” (Encyclopedia Britannica Company, n.d.). Therefore one of the main objectives of an orientation program is to integrate employees into their new work environment. The goals of orientation are to:

  • Familiarize new hires with your organization’s history, current undertakings, and future plans
  • Inform them about relevant policies and procedures
  • Outline desired workplace philosophy and behaviours when people are most receptive

Why orientation?

Orientation is well worth the time. With the focus on integrating into the organization, orientation allows a new employee to feel comfortable in the environment and with the new job. Effective orientation contributes to:

  • An increase in employee commitment
  • An increase in productivity
  • A decrease in employee turnover

Orientation should emphasize people, procedures, and information. New employees should understand how the company is organized, what its history is, how it operates, and what’s expected of them. They should understand that they are welcome, valuable members of the organization, and that coaching and personal networks are there to help them to develop and learn.

Employees should have a chance to get to know other people in the organization and to witness the approaches and styles that form your corporate culture. This process helps to introduce employees to both information and people in a controlled manner. A note of caution: new employees can’t absorb everything at once, so be careful not to overwhelm them. To help employees remember information presented during orientation, provide as much written material as possible.

An orientation program

Start with the basics. Orientation should introduce employees to the company and to their jobs. People become more productive sooner if they are firmly grounded in the basic knowledge they need to understand their job.

  • Provide employees with an introduction and education to your organization. This sets the stage for your employees to understand and integrate the core values, mission, philosophy, and goals of your organization.
  • Create comfort and rapport. Provide an environment that encourages acceptance and belonging in your organization. Spread out and vary meetings and any training sessions. Offer refreshments, dinner, lunch, or informal conversation.
  • Create a team spirit. Encourage camaraderie among employees as this enhances communication and openness across departments. It is important to provide opportunities for team members to get to know each other so that the workplace is professional and team members understand and care about each other, which will enhance the work environment and business.
  • Show the big picture. Detail your organization’s past accomplishments, future goals, and current directions. What are your organization’s vision and goals? Where does your organization want to go? What is your current focus? Who are your customers? What is your market position? Demonstrate excitement for future directions.
  • Explain job responsibilities and rewards. Clarify expectations from the beginning. Ensure your new employees are well versed in their job responsibilities and understand the levels of authority.
  • Introduce the company culture. Let your employees know how things “really work around here.” New employees want to fit in and understand the culture and the informal rules of how to operate or behave in the organization. Don’t leave them guessing!
  • Handle administrative tasks. There will always be paperwork to complete and detailed procedures to follow, such as knowing how to complete time sheets, requisitions, and incident reports (in the case of workplace accidents).
  • Gain full participation. Give everyone a role to play; engage in talks, and use games or exercises. Have your new employees explore the company, research the competition, meet the customers, and/or generate their own questions for you.
  • Explain what the employee can expect from the organization. If you have an employee handbook, ensure your employees receive a copy of it before they start. If possible, provide the handbook two weeks in advance so they have time to absorb information. Try to not overwhelm them with too much information on their first day: spread orientation over a period of days or weeks. Use the handbook during orientation to reinforce the information they have received and build identification with your company. If you don’t have an employee handbook, and want to create one, the list below provides topics that are usually included. Alternatively, you can use this as your orientation checklist:

Orientation Checklist

  • Introduction to company and management
  • Values, mission, goals, objectives
  • Company history and culture
  • Organizational structure (reporting hierarchy)
  • Product and service descriptions
  • Employee and employer expectations
  • Comprehensive job description (if not provided with employment offer letter)
  • Benefits: medical, dental, life insurance, employee assistance programs, etc.
  • Payroll specifics
  • Incentive programs
  • Grooming policies
  • Workplace health and safety (first aid and emergency procedures)
  • Workplace harassment and discrimination policies
  • How promotions and raises are handled
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Probationary period
  • Vacation details and pay specifics
  • What to do if there are problems
  • Work hours and statutory holidays
  • How performance evaluations are scheduled and done
  • Copies of communication vehicles (e.g., newsletters, annual reports)
  • Personal comfort issues: staff room, restrooms, eating facilities, rest breaks, lockers, restricted areas, smoking policies
  • Security issues during the day and after hours
  • Keys
  • Employee agreement (signed document stating they have read the employee handbook)

However you choose to present your orientation program, give it structure and provide a schedule or an agenda with everyone involved having clearly defined roles. See Appendix 6 for a sample orientation checklist.



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Human Resources in the Food Service and Hospitality Industry Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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