Effectively orienting and onboarding new employees to the campus, your department/unit, and to their positions is critical to establishing successful, productive working relationships. The employee's first interactions with you should create a positive impression of your department and the university. The time you spend planning for the new person's first days and weeks on the job will greatly increase the chance for a successful start.
Orientation is one part of an effective onboarding process. Onboarding is the process of bringing employees into new organizations and roles to ensure they have what they need to succeed.
Effectively integrating a new employee into their position, their work unit/department, and the university. Creating a positive first impression, establishing productive working relationships, and providing support and information to allow the new hire to be successful in their new job.
Effective orientation processes increase employee engagement and have a positive impact on employee retention in the longer term.
Tasks associated with hiring a new employee, such as new hire paperwork, ordering office equipment and supplies, getting technology access, etc.
A well-organized onboarding experience signals to a new employee that we are excited for them to start and that they are joining a professional and highly functional work unit.
Orientation and onboarding are not mutually exclusive. Orientation is a primary feature of the initial onboarding process. Effectively managing both orientation and onboarding positively impacts employee engagement.
Managing an Effective Department Orientation
Do you remember your first day on the job? Were you confident or anxious? Were you introduced around? Did you feel welcomed and informed? Did you feel you had all the information necessary to perform your job satisfactorily? Did you understand what was expected of you? Chances are, your early experiences help shaped your impressions and perceptions about your work, colleagues and the University of Oregon in general.
Most employees begin their new job feeling a bit anxious. They worry about how their supervisor and colleagues will receive them, and they worry about measuring up to their new job duties and expectations. They have many questions about their work environment, university policies and procedures, benefits and services and the overall UO culture and climate.
Effectively orienting new employees does take considerable time and effort, but the time invested will pay huge dividends. A positive transition can leave a lasting impression with a new employee for years to come, but negative impressions brought about by bad experiences with colleagues, unclear expectations and an unpleasant work environment are next to impossible to undo.
Additionally, employees tend to establish either good or bad patterns early in their employment. Once bad work habits or unacceptable job performance are tolerated or become ingrained, they are hard to change. University orientation programs and resources can help with the transition, but steering employees onto desirable paths is the primary responsibility of supervisors and managers.
Deliver a departmental orientation that:
- Creates a favorable impression of the university and the employee’s work environment.
- Introduces the employee to departmental goals, policies, procedures and protocols.
- Conveys the supervisor or manager’s expectations.
- Assists employees in developing quality working relationships with colleagues, supervisors and students.
- Addresses the anxieties and uncertainties of the new employee’s experience in the early stages of employment.
- Provides employees access to information and resources necessary to ease their transition into the workplace.
- Introduces employees to the benefits and support services available to help them maintain a high quality of life.
- Forges a "partnership" between the employee, the hiring department and other service units to help the employee become an effective member of the university community.
For a new employee, it may take a while to fully integrate into a new work unit. One way to assist the new employee through the initial adjustment period is to provide them with an "orientation partner." The orientation partner is an established colleague of the new employee who is knowledgeable about the job duties they will be asked to perform. The role of the partner is to serve as an informal point of contact for information about the new employee's position and department procedures and social norms. The orientation partner supplements, not substitutes, regular interaction with the employee's supervisor. The affiliation with the orientation partner helps the new employee to feel connected to the work team and to create a sense of inclusion, while providing them with support as they learn their new job.
- Has been employed more than one year
- Is compatible with the new employee in age, education, temperament, etc.
- Has time or is given time to be accessible to the new employee
- Has a good performance history
- Is skilled in the new employee’s job
- Is proud of the organization
- Is a peer of the new employee
- Has patience, good communication and interpersonal skills
- Is willing to be an orientation partner
- Is a positive role model and is liked/respected by other employees
Orientation Partner Functions
- Serve as an information source for the new employee on policies, procedures, expectations, norms
- Help the new employee clarify assignments
- Identify resources
- Provide opportunities for the new employee to socialize with others
- Be a lunch companion
- Be a tour guide
- Provide feedback and encouragement
- Provide introductions
Onboarding information is available to employees and supervisors to access in a variety of ways.
For hires completed in MyTrack:
New employees who are hired via MyTrack are provided onboarding information and a checklist through the MyTrack Onboarding Portal. An onboarding checklist for supervisors is also available in MyTrack and should be used for all hires via MyTrack. Review the MyTrack Onboarding Portal demo so you are familiar with the information and instructions the new employee is receiving directly from HR. Also, please direct your new employee to the MyTrack portal should they have missed it during the hiring process.
For hires completed outside MyTrack:
New employees who are hired outside of MyTrack can access onboarding information through the New Employee webpage.
For hires outside of MyTrack, supervisors should use the onboarding checklist:
A Multi-Tiered Approach at UO
The onboarding and orientation process is not a one-time event. It occurs over time and involves representatives at many levels.
Collectively, the information and support provided to the employee by the university, the college/unit, and the supervisor positively impacts the onboarding and orientation processes for the employee.
Key levels involved in effective onboarding and orientation are described below:
Orientation activities that are of general interest to all employees are conducted at the university level. The purpose is to provide an overall understanding of the mission of UO, help employees to enroll for and understand benefit options, explain conditions of employment, and increase awareness of the resources available regarding work/life balance, employee assistance and more.
Orientation activites include:
- benefits enrollment & consultation
- employee orientation
- campus & community resources
- work/life balance resources & opportunities
- employee assistance program
Since colleges and departments have unique bodies of work with a range of constituents, a tailored assimilation conducted by a department and/or college will help an employee to understand their work environment and culture.
At this level, employees get to know key contacts and how their work and that of their colleagues contributes to the UO mission.
Orientation activites include:
- organizational structure
- training and certifications
- unit checklists
- key personnel introduction
- support networks
- department/college tour
- culture and traditions
What an employee's position does, the expected results, resources available to get the work done, safety and other training requirements becomes clear through regular communication and feedback between the employee and their supervisor.
Orientation activities include:
- working partnership
- expectations & standards
- communication & feedback
- goals for the first month
- rules of the road