New Employee Orientation

December 5, 2006

Studies show that a minimum of 27 percent of employees who leave an organization do so within the first year of their employment. With the help of many healthcare organizations with which we work, we at SG have developed best practices in selection and the use of the 30- and 90-day supervisor/new employee meetings. Now we want to explore those very first days when all new staff become oriented to an organization.

Here is one interactive technique that I found to be successful. Please blog on what works for you. When done, we will compile a list of best tactics for new employee orientation


When I was President of a hospital, this is a technique that I found worked. The first morning of orientation, after introductions, I quickly broke the new employees into small groups. The size varied depending on the overall number present, but usually there were about five people in a group. Each group selected a recorder and someone who would report on their findings. Then the groups were given the same two handouts.

The first handout asked them to describe what a great workplace looks and feels like. Sometimes I provided a few examples to get the groups started. Quickly the groups got to work and developed a list of attributes. These ranged from knowing what’s going on, tools, and fair pay to recognition, training, and more. Each group then presented to the large group. Each presenter didn’t have to repeat a point already made, so the process went quickly. Each presenter was given a WOW card to signify his/her stepping out and presenting. This led to an explanation of the various recognitions staff could earn. All points were listed on a flip chart. This also gave me an opening to discuss what they described was the type of culture we want also. I provided examples to demonstrate the points listed.


The second handout asked the groups to list the characteristics and behavior they wanted in their supervisors. I used the same process as the first question and found a few examples helped them get started. Most groups listed being a good communicator.  It is important then to ask the group to go into more detail on what they mean by communication. This is also reported out. These presentations also led to a good discussion on what the organization’s goal is in leadership, what the staff will see, and good times to manage up their supervisor. I provided examples for them to expect. I would explain they will see the manager round on them and ask specific questions. They will be involved with peer interviewing.

That afternoon all attendees received a copy of their work. An email went to all leaders explaining that the current orientation group had completed the work on the two questions and giving them the list of what the staff was looking for and expecting. This took place 26 times per year. Each time the lists were very similar. These email reports proved to be great reminders and reinforcements to the leaders.


While I served as president of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, Bob Murphy worked for me in a variety of roles and eventually became the administrator. He is now with Studer Group on a full time basis as a presenter/teacher. I’m grateful to be working with Bob again. He is a great leader and presenter. He recently described many techniques on this subject. I have picked one to share with you.


There is an activity that can be done in the new employee orientation that will lead to instant alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives. In the handouts provided to each new employee, include a page with five inter-locking circles. At the top of the page is the question “Where would you focus?” Break the employees into groups of five or six people with this instruction, “You have just been promoted to CEO, where would you focus?” The employees fill in each of the five circles with the things they would focus on if they were CEO. After a few minutes’ discussion, solicit the ideas from the groups. It is amazing that no matter how many times you do this, the new folks always identify the five pillars: Service, Quality, People, Financial, and Growth. It gives you the opening to explain what would be measured under each pillar.

For example, if a group reports that they would focus on employee satisfaction, you can link that to the People pillar and discuss key goals such as lowering turnover below a certain percentage. Then explain why lowering turnover is important for quality, physician collaboration, satisfaction of other employees, and lowered costs of replacement. You should be able to connect the dots and explain many of the goals of the organization.

We want to know what you doing to make your new employee orientations successful. Please add your ideas and suggestions to the comment section of this post. We will compile into a list and send out for your review.



13 Responses to “New Employee Orientation”

  1. Meg Steele Says:

    These are great ideas! Another valuable discussion that could be held in small groups, is around desired behaviors within the organization. Once they’ve identified what a great organization feels like, and what they want from their manager, how about a discussion of what their manager or organization should reasonably expect from them? (medium performers…?) what would you see in someone who goes above and beyond? (high performers…?) It could introduce this new concept to them on their terms, help them to understand it in their own words first, before it is explained to them by the employer.

  2. "T" Says:

    Introduced to 30-90day new employee Q/A sesson. I have been with the Pels since 2003 without this review. I had opportunity in our weekly individual meetings and ask this questions with the people who run the meat and patatoes of the Organization. Couple of things that I noticed: 1- I was pleased every wanted to stay with the Pels 🙂 2- The only reason they would leave is if I let them go. 3- Most of our staff have been with us 1-3 years and all felt the freedom to compare experiences from previous jobs and implement procedures: ie. Shelley Welch background in Merchandise with a Pet Co. has brought us to speed by leaps and bounds in the baseball merchandise and we should Double or Triple revenue for 2007. another is Chuck McCartney sales back ground were a sales call data base has always been used….has assisted tremendously in streamlining our ACT Database system…something that we have had since 2005 but never committed to. 4- and final comment is that all felt there was a TEAMWORK mentality and that all staff was exrtemely helpful. Strides are being made early and often which has lead us to 50% of our sales goal for the 2007 Season.

  3. Kathy Browne Says:

    When I meet a new staff member I talk with them for a few minutes. I then think about which staff member they would communicate well with. I then try to match their schedules.

  4. Monte Wright Says:

    One of the first things we are doing in our Health System is getting data to find out when our turnover is occuring. Is it in the first 90 days, 180 days, 1 year? This will determine our strategy for retention that will hopefully eliminate recruitment!
    The challenge will be to measure this information on a quarterly basis to determine the next steps. Turnover is an ongoing issue and cannot be solved with one strategy. Strategically speaking, an organization needs accurate data to make informed and timely decisions.

  5. Dawn Cunningham Says:

    We’ve been doing Facility Orientation at NCBH for years now. It’s an opportunity for leaders to give a personal welcome during our informal breakfast gathering before HR continues to cover topics that will introduce all associates, volunteers, transfers, & students to our culture. We collect evaluations from every group and the most frequently noted kudos pertain to two things. 1. The CEO taking the time to welcome them, express gratitude for choosing NCBH, & delivering an inspiring message that connects back to the mission, vision, & values of the organization. 2. The second thing is simply the tour of the facility, which is mentioned quite often as impressive & informative.

  6. At our new employee orientation we use our Standards of Behavior and ask our new employees what they would expect to see in their department related to the standards. This would include patient care and employee relationships. They work in groups at their table and then share with the entire room. We have had some very awesome thoughts and comments. We then ask them to share those with their managers.

  7. Brent Green, Ph.D. Says:

    Much like previous comments I believe it’s critical to assign each new employee a ‘buddy’. This is not the boss. It’s a stakeholder or opinion leader that guides the employee to the cultural details of the hospital. They could have brief weekly meegtings for a month. Also, I’d ensure that the first week each employee has a lunch partner

  8. Debbie Crouchley Says:

    In our division, the manager takes the new employee to lunch, away from the unit. The focus is for the manager to learn about the new employee on a personal level, and vice versa. There is no discussion about work during this time. We talk about children and husbands/wives and pets, hobbies, etc. Connecting on this personal level is a great icebreaker, and opens the lines of communication with the new staff member.

  9. Tom Sampson Says:

    Here at Calgary EMS we have our new folks in for 4 weeks of orientation. On the first day I meet with them and run over the Vision, Mission and Mandate of the organization. Most importantly I take a lot of time to run over our organizational values. These are: be Honest, persue Excellence, be Accountable, be Responsive compassionate and fair, and finally Treat others with respect. The values, if you look at the capital letters line up with the acronym HEART. We talk about what the values mean to us…and how they translate to our behaviours.

  10. A key element in successful orientations is also making sure that employees stay engaged throughout the day(s). At every hospital and healthcare system where we provide our signature concierge services, we partner with the hospital’s HR function to participate in orientations to educate employees on the benefits available to them. For example, at one of our clients we play “Errand Solutions Trivial Pursuit” and new hires win prizes by guessing various different ways they can take advantage of our concierge service.

    Essentially, integrating employee benefits in an interactive, fun format helps keep people involved, engaged and excited to participate in the hospital’s benefits programs.

  11. Vicki Felger Says:

    New employee orientation is a crucial time for both manager and the new employee. One tactic is to have the manager/supervisor attend a continental breakfast the first day orientation to meet and greet. If this isn’t possible, the manager is asked to hand write a welcome note to be included in the employee’s orientation packet. During a portion of the planned agenda, which may focus on service excellence, culture development etc., each new employee is asked to introduce him/herself and explain why they are in health care. This is fascinating and really connects to mission and purpose!

  12. My new employee (in marketing) has wonderful talent and experience but has never worked in health care. I am forwarding her every newsletter that comes in from AHA, IHA, local legislators, etc. She is finding those more helpful than internet research on her own to learn the culture and climate of healthcare delivery.

  13. Patti Bedlion Says:

    We do a learning map as one of the first activities for our NEO. The learning map consists of a tour of the history of our organization and how all of the components fit together to make the whole.

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