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5 E’s that get your employee orientation experience to another level

18.07.2019

The first day at a new job can be tough. It’s usually filled with stress and insecurity, although it often turns out to be rather boring and even impractical. Not only is it a waste of the first day’s great potential but it’s also a threat to the new hire’s future at the company

The first day at a new job can be tough. It’s usually filled with stress and insecurity, although it often turns out to be rather boring and even impractical. Not only is it a waste of the first day’s great potential but it’s also a threat to the new hire’s future at the company. Research shows that 17% of employees who lacked effective onboarding will leave within the first three months, and those who stay might have lower time-to-productivity ratios and show lower employee engagement. The first, so called Orientation Day, plays a great role in the entire employee onboarding process – so it’s important to do it right. How you ask? Let me share my thoughts using the example of the Orientation Day we held for our interns not so long ago at G2A.

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This summer, seven talented students joined G2A for our second edition of our summer internship program. Just like for all of our new hires, we wanted to make their first day a memorable experience – a day that will not only prepare them for what’s ahead but will also get them to know our company culture and make them feel truly at home. And we definitely wanted it to be fun, too! But wait, is that even possible? How do you balance knowledge and fun? Can you make new hires feel engaged and entertained without losing the educational side of onboarding? With those questions in mind, we came up with our own idea on how to do it and I have to say – it works pretty well!

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There are some things you should keep in mind when preparing an onboarding and orientation plan for your new hires. Make sure to follow the 5 E’s of the ideal Orientation Day and stick to them:

🏆 educational,

🏆 entertaining,

🏆 easing,

🏆 exceptional,

🏆 and efficient at the same time!

Sounds hard to do? Keep reading and see how easy it can be if it’s prepared with just a few simple rules in mind.

5 E’s that give your Orientation Day an extra boost

First of all, make it EDUCATIONAL. Some of the elements of standard employee orientation are so crucial that they cannot be omitted. Getting to know the office? Fundamental. Learning about the company’s history, products and values? Basic. Preparing to use internal tools and software? Can’t imagine a first day and week without it. Getting acquainted with company culture? Definitely!

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Does a “fun” Orientation Day mean that you need to resign from all of those? Of course not! But each of these elements can be done in a more or less ENTERTAINING way. During our Orientation Day for interns, we chose not to show the office in a regular expected manner. We’ve prepared a special G2A Office Treasure Hunt for them instead.

All new starters (paired up in teams) were asked to find 15 specific items and complete a few more special quests. The items were placed in either important or fun places all around the building (which made the office tour far more memorable). The quests were related to the knowledge or activities expected from the newcomers. Gamifying this experience was also meant to bond interns, build relations between them and open them up. What better than teamwork to do that?

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EASING transition into new role

Don’t forget to add some activities that will ease the tension of the first day. An introductory ice-breaker (e.g. a fun way to learn each other names, share experiences or discuss mutual hobbies) or a team-building energizer after lunch can go a long way.

Make sure not to start off with anything excessively demanding (in terms of opening up, getting personal or forcing any type of physical contact between participants) because the group might not be ready for it just yet. Try to graduate the activities accordingly instead and observe how the group responds.

Consider using some accessories or gadgets to support your activities – for our ice breaker we used Dixit cards (Have you ever played with them? It’s so much fun!), but there are tons of other options (e.g. a metaphor game or tell-tale cards).

No one else does it like that!

The whole onboarding experience should be deeply rooted in your company’s culture and values. Make it EXCEPTIONAL by adding your company vibe to it. Is your company value Team Spirit? Embrace it during the first day by showing examples of teamwork and involve activities that require working in groups. You can also consider inviting your current employees (or, as in our case, previous year’s interns) and get new hires acquainted with the company culture in the flesh.

Let’s make it EFFICIENT!

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Organization and logistics of the event should also be spotless. Pay special attention to schedules (especially if the day is filled with active exercises and involves lots of people) and plan every little detail in advance. How can you make the most of this day without overloading it with information and activities? At G2A, we divide this process and use various means for it. We’ve prepared an employee handbook (manual with important info – Starting@G2A) that we send to new hires before their start date, as well as some info about what will happen later on and other activities they can expect during their first few days. Sending this information to them before they start allows us to focus on the most important things during their first day!

How not to get lost in all the fun?

Plan and write down all of the elements that absolutely have to happen on the Orientation Day. The rest – think of a different way you could incorporate them. Hand it over to the manager, schedule for a different day, use tech solutions to support you (an interactive guide that the new hire can dive into later) – whatever works without losing the expected level of knowledge, skills or quality. Smaller knowledge bites are easier to absorb and it might actually turn out for the best.

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Keep strict rules and control the fun – e.g. with the scavenger hunt we communicated the rules right from the very start. It helped the participants not to get distracted, prevented them from disturbing colleagues at work and got us all to the goal that was set at the beginning.

OK, fun is great. But what about BUSINESS? Aren’t we wasting our time?

Successful employee onboarding (or lack of it, including a great Orientation Day experience) has a real impact on business. Further performance and engagement of the new hire depends on how well and how fast they could assimilate into the company culture and ease into their new duties. In fact, research shows that 54% of organizations with a formal onboarding process experience greater new hire productivity and 50% experience greater new hire retention.

Is that all?

Orientation Day plays an extremely important role in the onboarding process and (once properly conducted) can have great impact in many different fields. Use the 5 E’s described in this article to get your Orientation Day to another level!

Remember, a great onboarding experience starts way before new hires arrive for their Orientation Day and goes a long way beyond it. You can start it even as early as during recruitment to properly set the ground and then extend it to first weeks and months in the company.

Think big but don’t forget about the impact of small actions. Good luck!

Author: Aneta Milewska

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