7 Elements of a Good New Hire Orientation

March 9, 2015

Imagine it’s the first day of your new job. You arrive feeling motivated and excited for the opportunity, but you’re also nervous about ramping up on a new company, role and responsibility. You walk in all smiles and sweaty palms…only to find an empty, lonely desk with a pile of paperwork and a computer. Huh.

Now, imagine a different scenario: You walk-in to find 30 other new hires, name-tagged seats overflowing with schwag, flipcharts and markers throughout the room, and warm faces to greet you. Likely, you’d be smiling ear-to-ear affirming your life-changing professional decision.

It makes sense: First impressions are everything, after all. When you meet someone, you immediately start sizing them up, deciding who they are and how you feel about them. And while it’s true that second chances are given, it often takes more time and effort to get people to change their minds about you—especially if the first impression was a lousy one.

Having a good new hire orientation also makes sense for keeping employees engaged and happy with their decision to join the company. In a recent Bersin by Deloitte study, 4% of new employees quit after a disastrous first day, and 22% of employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days. That’s why 79% of business leaders surveyed said successful new hire programs are an urgent and important priority. In the long run, a solid onboarding experience sets both the new hire and the company up for success.

Additionally, a study by analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment.

That’s exactly why LinkedIn’s Jason Weeman spends his time creating transformational experiences for new employees through [In]troduction -- LinkedIn’s new hire orientation.

Last year, Jason and his team led 220 [In]troduction sessions for 2800 employees worldwide, earning a Bronze “Brandon Hall” award for Best Onboarding Program. “[In]troduction is more than just giving new hires a laptop,” Jason explains. “We want new employees to be truly introduced to the company mission and values, and start building relationships on day one.”

To help you think about and develop a successful new hire program, we’ve listed the 7 key components of LinkedIn’s new hire [In]troduction for your consideration.

1. Explore the company during new hire orientation

As the new hires start their first day, the morning of orientation is dedicated to icebreakers and learning about the company. “At the end of the day, we want people to feel inspired, motivated, and curious,” Jason explains. “So we combine dropping company knowledge with collaborative activities.”

First, new hires grab sticky notes and write their name and a headline describing them as a professional as well as an interesting personal fact. They walk around the room sharing unique pieces of information about themselves, finding commonalities and discussing their backgrounds. Later, they write a “fill in the blank” phrase and throw it into a fishbowl. Occasionally, one person will pull a phrase and share their answer, allowing people to get to know each other (and laugh) throughout the day.

Once the crowd is warmed up, Jason gives an overview of the company, introduces the leadership team, and explains LinkedIn’s mission, vision, culture and values. To bring these concepts to life, Jason breaks the group into teams, challenging them to visually represent the company culture and values. This increases discussion, shows off some hidden artistic skills, and encourages new hires to think about and describe these core pillars in different ways.

2. Campus tour and lunch as part of the new hire roadmap

Next, employees are given a quick campus tour en route to the lunch café. Jason doesn’t want new hires to feel lost or overwhelmed, so he secures a dedicated table with cheerful balloons where new hires can sit and eat together.

3. Employee investment

After lunch, Jason brings employees out of their post-lunch coma with a session called, “Investing [In] You”. While this covers the typical orientation topics like corporate, medical and financial benefits, Jason tries to spend most of this time highlighting the unique company cultural benefits.

When Jason highlights InDays, LinkedIn For Good, the LinkedIn Speaker Series, and the bimonthly company All Hands Meetings, new hires feel eager, excited and empowered to make an impact and participate. He even encourages employees to recruit new talent starting day one, explaining the Employee Referral Program.

4. Exec Q&A

Every [In]troduction includes a fireside chat with a member of senior leadership. “All our execs have an open door policy, and we want the new hires to feel that closeness to various company leaders on the first day,” Jason explains. On this particular day, VP of Corporate Development Emilie Choi gave new employees an inside look at LinkedIn’s M&A approach and shared her proudest career moments at LinkedIn.

5. Unpack your perks

In this career fair inspired set-up, members of the LinkedIn Wellness, Transportation and Food teams explain the unique lifestyle perks available at the company. Jason divides everyone by office location so each group learns the perks available at their specific locations. And of course, like any career fair, each booth has schwag for new employees.

By the end of the first day, new hires should feel suitably exhausted and overwhelmed but equally excited and exhilarated. If your onboarding team was successful, then new hires should also feel solidified by their decision to join your team.

6. Tech support

At the end of the day, the tech team hands new hires their shiny laptops and backpacks for storing LinkedIn goodies. From VPN setup and communication tools, IT support locations and the importance of security, the team gives new hires a hands-on overview of the tech tools needed to be most effective and efficient in their new jobs.

7. Continued education

Before new hires head out for the day, Jason takes a moment to explore the other great onboarding resources available, including the New Hire Roadmap and New Hire Resource Kit.

The New Hire Roadmap is designed to help each new employee transition into LinkedIn and their new role. It’s a week-by-week online guide that identifies what new hires need to learn so that they can be more productive and successful during their first month. There are also customized Roadmaps for each department. The New Hire Resource Kit has additional content and information on their day-to-day activities.

Onboarding is a critical point for both the candidate and the company. Top performing new hires start with an amazing onboarding experience, and this experience can lead to longer term employee engagement and higher retention. For the company, it transitions responsibility from one HR team to another and poses a opportunity to solidify or inspire employee engagement, advocacy and satisfaction.

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