Employees today want meaningful work, the resources to do that work, a boss who helps removes the barriers, and appropriate recognition for a job well done. If they don’t get it, they will leave. And it will only be a week or two before they snag another job, because there are so many positions available in the workplace today.

The first several hours of a new employee orientation usually go smoothly. The President’s kick-off message is inspiring. There is a brief history of the company…and then it all goes downhill from there! Next comes a gauntlet of a “guest speaker death march!” One speaker after another, who talks at the employees, not with employees. It is death by PowerPoint! Rarely are there meaningful activities, storytelling or interactive conversations. Instead, it is mind-numbing, and employees painfully endure the theme of “here are 50 ways to lose your job…welcome!”

Following are a few ideas that can make your new employee orientation more positive and memorable.

First create an orientation commitment charter” that will help guide your design and desired outcomes. Strive for training to be more engaging, have inspiring guest speakers, and provide more activities and fun. Along with that, make a commitment that every employee must go through orientation as their first day of work, not three weeks after they have already worked in their department. If not on day one, it is nearly impossible to make the right first impression and change established habits.

Create warm welcomes. Have executives at the front door of your business to greet new employees and then escort them to the training room. Offer them refreshments, to relax, and introduce them to another, like you would a guest in your own home.

Make sure the training room is show ready” before any new employee walks in. Make sure the room looks great; the materials organized, PowerPoint is up on the screen and fun music is playing. Facilitators must be dressed professionally and be role models of the intentional culture and the ideal customer experiences verses running around trying to find equipment and supplies.

Create a fun scavenger hunt for new employees to work as a team to visit various aspects of the facility that customers will need to know. This way they’ll be armed with the information because they will have discovered it on their own!

Treat your employees exactly how you want them to treat your customers, patients and guests. Speak to them in a language they can understand, avoiding acronyms and industry jargon. Treat them as adult learners and involve them. You can tell stories, but don’t give them death by PowerPoint—make it fun, interesting, relevant and interactive. In the afternoon, have executives bring in a tray of freshly baked cookies after lunch and literally serve the employees. Thats servant leadership! Then they can have an informal question-and-answer time with the new employees. Tape the top 10 questions under chairs in case employees are scared to ask questions.

Create a fun theme for the day, e.g., We are taking a cruise, because we are all on a journey together. Each day of training, you will visiting a different port of call: Safety, compassion, quality and teamwork. As they enter the meeting room, take a photograph of them in front of a cruise ship poster, and then Inter-office mail them the photograph (that they forgot all about) and congratulate them on making it through their 90 days introductory period (not probationary period).

Fresh blood, fresh energy, fresh perspective: At Disney, every 12 months we auditioned, selected and trained a new batch company employees to teach new employee orientation.  It gave the audience a trainer who was eager to do their best, and not just another salaried employee who reluctantly “had to teach another orientation program today.” This also became a way to get promoted from within the company if you got selected as a “Disney Traditions” instructor.

Ask an “Onboarding buddy” from the department where the employee will be working to join you at the end of day one orientation. Their job will be to explain to the employee what they will be doing the next day and alleviate any anxieties.

Have the manager welcome new employees to the team and the department. Introduce them to other team members and say these exact words: “Welcome to our department! We are going to show you how we localized things you heard yesterday in orientation and how we brought them to life.” 

Think of a way to end the meeting on a high note: a graduation ceremony, or have them sign their name to a book, committing their pledge to the companies’ mission and service strategy. As they leave the training room, have a red carpet with ropes and stanchions where current employees could welcome them to the organization with a standing ovation.

These are just some ideas to get your brain churning. Think about what best fits your organization and its culture and go from there! The important thing is to make sure new employees feel comfortable, properly equipped, and an integral part of the care team…no matter what their new role will be.

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