First Day on the Job: Employee Orientation Checklist

The first time Polymath LLC hired an employee, I had no idea what I was doing. I brought on a friend to assist during the insanity month of January, and the first task I assigned her was helping me establish our employment procedures.

Fast forward four and a half years with quite a few employee ups and downs. I have discovered that involving our team in the ongoing creative process for our guidelines and procedures is absolutely essential to creating a strong culture, where our team members feel heard. All of our routines and documents are created and maintained by our team, and everything is considered living and evolving.

One of the documents created in those early weeks was our Employee Orientation checklist. While interviews are important for determining, in advance, whether someone is going to be a good fit to join our team, the first real day on the job is when many employers fail to follow through. It's easy to assume that you covered a lot of the key expectations during the interview. In reality, even the best interviews can be a bit intimidating, and most of those details are forgotten amidst the emotion of wondering if they said, and did, the right thing. The worst possible thing to do, on the big first day, is to toss them in head-first without any guidance to figure it out on their own and make things up as they go. That can leave your new team member feeling confused, aimless and unconnected, when what they need is a solid win to get them started.

To really make sure that your new employee starts on the right foot, plan a full day for them to go through the entire Orientation Checklist with support. This day can be spent with multiple members of your team guiding them, and different team members may be appropriate for different training areas. It is important for them to know that you have a plan, and that someone will be there to support them through it. After all, you are both taking a risk on each other, and it needs to be clear that you see them as a worthwhile investment.

Know which members of your team will be going through which areas of the checklist with your new team member, and ensure that this time is set aside on the calendar in advance. Schedule your new team member's first day with the same care and attention that you would place when scheduling important time with your best and favorite client. Make sure that all of your guiding team members are fully on board and engaged with the plan for your new employee. Having a team member running late or feeling overburdened by the interruption to their routine can cause your new employee to feel unwelcome or disconnected.

At the end of the day, check back in with your new hire, and ask them how it went. Ask them to be completely honest about how they are feeling following this first day, and really listen. Find out if they have any lingering questions, and see if they have any feedback. Review the key elements of your corporate culture with them, including your vision and core values, and ask if they still feel like it's a fit after seeing your team in action. Remember that an employment relationship is a big investment for both sides, so it's important to be upfront about potential deal-breaker concerns and doubts to save everyone time in the long run. Keep it positive and focused on what's best for everyone.

A strong, cohesive team is the air a company breathes, and having happy employees leads to happy customers. Launching each new employee relationship with positive intention and a solid plan can help set your company on a path to success.