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A Quick Guide to Employee Orientation

Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D.

A Helpful Resource for Hiring Managers

Orienting employees to their new organization and position is one of the most neglected functions in the workplace. A new employee needs guidance and instruction to get settled into his or her new role. Without a proper orientation, it can be very stressful on the new and existing employees.

Purposes of Orientation

As managers, anything we can do to retain employees is a must. Orientation is a good way to provide a new employee with a smooth transition into the organization and eliminate frustration early on that could lead to an unhappy new hire. Orientation is a benefit for the following reasons:

1. It Reduces Startup Costs. Proper orientation helps the employee get up to speed more quickly, reducing the time and cost associated with the transition.

2. It Reduces Anxiety. When put into a new situation, any employee will experience anxiety that can impact his or her ability to learn. Proper orientation helps reduce anxiety and helps provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, so the employee doesn’t have to experience the stress of guessing.

3. It Reduces Employee Turnover. Employee turnover increases as employees feel they are not valued, or are put in positions where they can’t possibly do their jobs. Orientation shows that the organization values the employee, and helps provide tools necessary for the employee to be successful in his or her new role.

4. It Allows More Productivity. The better the orientation, the less likely supervisors and co-workers will have to spend time teaching the employee.

5. It Develops Realistic Job Expectations, Positive Attitudes and Job Satisfaction. It is important that employees learn early on what the expectations are, in addition to learning about the values and attitudes of the organization. This will help eliminate potentially damaging problems down the road.

Two Phases of Orientation

The first phase of the orientation deals with the basic information an employee will need to understand the system he or she works in. This phase can typically be conducted by the human resource department. It includes the following:

  • policies and general procedures of the organization, not specific to the job
  • compensation and benefits information
  • preventative safety and accident issues
  • employee and union issues (if applicable)
  • physical facilities

The second phase of the orientation deals with job specific information to help employees understand their new role. This phase should be conducted by the immediate supervisor or manager. It includes the following:

  • how the employee fits in to the function of the organization
  • job responsibilities, expectations, and duties
  • policies, procedures, rules and regulations
  • layout of workplace
  • introduction to co-workers and others in the organization

Some Tips

1. Orientation should begin with the most important information (basic job survival).

2. Orientation should emphasize people as well as procedures and expectations. Employees should have a chance to get to know people and their approaches and styles in both social and work settings.

3. Buddy an employee to a more experienced person. Make sure, however, that the more experienced person wants to buddy up, and has the interpersonal skills. This provides ongoing support.

4. Introduce employees to both information and people in a controlled way. A new employee can’t absorb everything at once, so don’t waste your time. Space out introductions.


Orientation makes a significant difference in how quickly an employee can become more productive, and also has long term effects for the organization.

About the Author
Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D. photo

Elizabeth Feltner, M.A., A.B.D., is Vice President of Deffet Group, Inc. She works collaboratively with clients nationwide to identify and retain executive leaders and advance organizational success. An accomplished public speaker for employers and national conferences, frequent topics include succession planning, on-boarding, and leadership development.