The first step in building employee engagement: Orientation

As we often say, the highest point that the employee experience strives to reach is employee engagement.  The employee experience starts the moment you try to reach the candidates and continues with the first working day and orientation process. All the steps you take in these processes are important to reach the ideal level of high employee engagement. Sarah Wetzel (Director of Human Resources at engage:BDR ) explains the importance of the subject: “I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them a potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.”

Employee’s first day experience

First impression is important in a new acquaintance. Although the preliminary interviews made in the recruitment processes of an employee give the earliest impressions about the company, the most critical point in employee’s experience is the first working day.

In job interviews, both candidates and companies tell about themselves. In fact, this process can be compared to a two-way sales process.  Just like the customer experience that begins after the sale of a product or service is completed, the employee experience takes shape after recruitment. That’s why first day experience is crucial.

One of the mistakes often made is the following: the manager, boss or HR officer shows the new hire around the office, shows them their department and desk, and then leaves them alone to do their work.

The feelings of the employee who spends the first day with this routine are – usually – as follows: awkward, stressed and lonely.

A robust orientation process for a good experience

A good first-day experience is an integral part of a successful recruitment process. Orientation is the process of settling a new employee into your organisation in every sense. The aim of induction is to provide everything that new recruits need to feel welcome and to do their job well. This takes time, so onboarding is not a one-day event; it can go on for weeks or even months. Key steps in the induction process include:


  • A robust orientation process should be designed for your new employees. Today’s technology and communication possibilities offer every opportunity to create a unique experience.
  • This program should clearly articulate what the employee will be a part of, the vision and the purpose of the company.
  • Employees can learn all the details of this new journey through an orientation program. However, this is not enough to prepare them for a job to which they will commit wholeheartedly. Simultaneously, guidance from a more experienced teammate or manager, preferably with coaching skills, should also come into play. This system can be easily set up. Organic guidance from a highly engaged teammate can be more valuable than any other practice. In the opposite case, a guide whose feelings about the job and the company are negative will cause a great disappointment.
  • It is relatively easy to explain to the employee the numerical information about the company, the job description, what to do and how to do it. The challenge is to explain the culture of the company. Dave Ulrich (Founder of RBL) sums up culture with this witty definition: “Culture is everything that the fly in your meeting room, unseen by anyone, sees.” How you welcome a guest, how you manage a meeting, people’s right to speak, sense of justice, tone of communication and many other things… All kinds of details, either visible or invisible, those define the company.
  • Communicating with new employees before their first day and helping them prepare can improve the efficiency of the orientation process.
  • It is a very important step that all kinds of tools they will need for work are ready. A welcome kit can also be considered at this point. This kit does not necessarily have to include work-related items. If there is, it could be a tiny gift for their children, a family-sized T-shirt, maybe a blanket, a thermos, a picnic mat, and many more. Remember, one of the most vital ways to touch a person is to touch their loved ones, especially their children. 
  • There can be many things that make an employee engaged with the company, but the main thing is that all of this is done sincerely, as a natural part of the culture. Not because it is a procedure or requirement.

Remote working and orientation

In today’s world of remote working systems, first-day experience and orientation are much more critical. Recently, people have started and worked in workplaces they have never entered or even seen. They stayed away from the unique conversations at lunches, friendship environments, elevator greetings, coffee breaks.  They may have learned the job descriptions, but they did not experience the physical contact in their work life. It’s important to be a little more proactive when working remotely.  A warm greeting at the office on the first day of work or a welcome kit sent home if that’s not possible, and an online acquaintance meeting attended by the whole team that day. It doesn’t have to be about work, it just has to be about people.