For New Employees
University of Minnesota
Lita C. Wallace
New Employee Orientation for Civil Service/Non-Academic Guide for Departments
TABLE OF CONTENTS
UMD Human Resources Mission Statement
To: University of Minnesota Duluth Supervisors
Part of our department's Mission Statement reads: "Our mission is to assist the University of Minnesota Duluth in achieving its goals and objectives by recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse productive non-academic workforce."
We will provide services and information which balances the unique needs of employees and employing units and is consistent with the University's policies and procedures, laws and regulations, and collective bargaining agreements.
This is your copy of our new Civil Service/Non-Academic New Employee Orientation Guide. Our hope is that it will be a good first step in helping you welcome new employees. We encourage you to review it and use it. This document is based on a similar document developed by the University's CEE Staff Development Committee.
We are very grateful to them for allowing us to adapt their document to meet our campus needs. Though these materials are designed specifically to be used for civil service employees (including non-faculty bargaining unit members), you will see that they could be easily adapted for use with both academic and student employees as well.
I encourage you to use it in any way you find helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for improvement of this guide. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.
The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation. The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
In adhering to this policy, the University abides by the Minnesota Human
Rights Act, Minnesota Statute Ch. 363; by the Federal Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.
2000e; by the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of
1972; by Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; by the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; by Executive Order 11246, as
amended; by 38 U.S.C. 2012, the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance
Act of 1972, as amended; and by other applicable statutes and regulations
relating to equality of opportunity.
This guide is intended to be a handy reference for your use in orienting new employees. Helping a new employee feel comfortable and welcome on the first day on the job is one of the keys to a successful orientation. Your role in informing the employee about his or her job responsibilities, work rules, your department's mission and goals is extremely important. And the way in which you present the information will make a lasting impression on the new employee.
The information contained in this guide is only a blueprint for orientation. Adapt the information to fit your own particular situation and training needs. Don't hesitate to call on other resources to make your orientation complete. Our department also offers a New Employee Orientation to civil service employees with 50% or more appointment. We welcome your suggestions and those of your new employees about how to improve this guide and the orientation process.
The material included in this guide is a compilation and adaptation of numerous materials and information collected from various books, articles, workshops, seminars, meetings. etc. Of special mention are the New Employee Orientation: A Practical Guide for Supervisors by Charles M. Cadwell and How to Train and Orient Employees from KEYE Productivity Center. We adapted these materials from a document developed by the University's CEE Staff Development Committee.
The UMD Department of Human Resources & Equal Opportunity is very grateful to them for allowing us to share this valuable information with our campus.
"Oh, is that how it's done? ... I wish someone would have told me that!"... Does this sound familiar? Did you ever wish employees could be trained faster and with increased retention of the information? One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to provide an effective orientation. In fact, orienting a new employee is one of the most important responsibilities that a supervisor and trainer can perform!
According to a recent study conducted by training experts, when employees
are trained effectively, there is a higher degree of productivity and
job satisfaction. The study indicated that a properly trained employee
could be 30% more productive. Conversely, poorly trained employees tend
to make more mistakes, which means a loss of time and effort. The cost
of hiring, orienting, and training new employees has been estimated from
$5,000 to $30,000 per person, depending on the position. One of the concrete
benefits of a thorough orientation is cost savings. Effective training
can motivate an employee to do a good job, increase job satisfaction,
and reduce staff turnover, a cost saving measure for the future.
If this guide is being read prior to the interview process, remember that as questions are asked at the interview, potential employees are also gathering information to develop an impression of the interviewer, the office, and the surrounding environment. These first impressions will have an impact on whether the person even accepts the job offer.
What are some of the reasons for this guide and for providing a comprehensive orientation? Initially it is to present information for orienting employees faster, more effectively, and efficiently. Ultimately the expected outcome is to increase communication and to lessen the time needed for retraining. More explicitly, some of the objectives of an orientation and this guide are to:
Since the assumption can be made that a smart, hard-working, and competent
employee has been hired, the orientation process should not only assist
supervisors and staff to more readily establish a foundation with the
new employee, but also provide a vehicle for the new employee to assimilate
into the work place and to quickly understand the job-specific tasks at
The supervisor should feel free to share any and all of the information
in this guide with the new employee. Subsequent pages of this guide are
organized into several sections:
Section 2 provides information on conducting the employee orientation, and
Section 3 includes a listing of attachments and support materials as well as comments on the various packets.
Preparation and planning are key elements to a successful orientation. By providing positive perspectives and teaching the fundamentals that each new employee should know, the employee will be made to feel welcome, learn the basics quickly, and become an integral part of the organization. Keep in mind that a poorly planned and implemented orientation will reverse all the efforts made during recruitment to match the needs of the position with the right skills and abilities of an employee. A thorough and well-planned orientation is the first step in providing a successful experience for all.
Review the Planning for the New Employee and the Suggested Orientation Timetable. They will provide the basis for preparation and will assist the supervisor and trainers in deciding what information to cover. Read through the Orientation Checklist and mark-off those items that the supervisor will discuss, pre-assign items to trainers, and add others that are pertinent. Once the planning is complete, the outcome will be an action plan and schedule of activities. Appropriate paperwork and materials will be gathered, staff will be aware of their role in orientation, and a first job assignment will be designated. Subsequent information in this section expands on these preparatory elements.
Who should be involved in the orientation? The supervisor has a significant role in setting the stage, creating training plans that follow clear-cut learning objectives, directing the overall flow of information, and meeting one-on-one with the new employee. The supervisor should make it known to staff involved in training specifically what items have been pre-assigned to them, what they should discuss with the new employee, and the depth to which it should be relayed. Familiarize other staff with the new employee's background. If possible, cross-training should be conducted by the person currently holding the position or with someone who has a similar position. When considering staff to help conduct an orientation, the following strengths or traits will be particularly useful for an effective orientation:
In addition to training from the supervisor, the new employee should be paired with another staff member who is a veteran employee and is interested in being a mentor. This person should be a superior performer in his or her own right and have good people skills. An element of the mentor's responsibility is to help establish a sense of belonging for the new employee. The mentor should have a personal presence that will impress and persuade the new employee that the staff member is someone the employee can trust. Part of this role is to allow for a comfortable, more informal environment in which the employee can ask and receive information about the office culture and norms, those everyday, mostly unwritten, procedures and policies that help to explain how things really work.
Once it has been decided what the employee needs to know, and who can provide that information, the next question is: What is the best training method to relay that information? The training method chosen to relay information should be based on the skills and style of the trainer and, if known, the individual learning style of the new employee. Keep it simple and specific, and to the point; don't assume anything. Weigh the Orientation Checklist items in importance and complexity; group for similarity. Also, to avoid misconceptions, don't oversell the job, responsibilities, etc. The reality and expectations of the job should closely match.
The supervisor and trainer should ask employees what their preferred learning style is for each area of the orientation, especially job responsibilities. The easiest way to do this is to ask: "Would you prefer to read this first or discuss it before you read the materials? "The presentation of materials and information should then be adapted to that person's style whenever possible. Studies have shown that over a period of three days, the retention of learning is as follows:
It is known that learning takes place by reading, listening, and watching. It also is known that people learn better if they are actively involved in the learning process. Think about this when orienting a new employee.
Communicating expectations to employees enthusiastically, with a smile and a positive attitude, will affect the employees' interpretation as well. To enhance communication, relate a personal experience, or perhaps let the individual know what stimulates individuals to work here by giving examples.
Having a planned and organized orientation will help to facilitate positive
first impressions. Secondary information gathered through observation
when visiting the work area is also very important to the initial perceptions
of the new employee. Consider the following
If most of the statements can be answered affirmatively, then positive perceptions are being created. If these basic statements are generally not positive, then there may be a need to review these items with the staff. Positive perceptions are especially important to new employees and to the long-term job satisfaction of all staff.
The UMD Department of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, University Employee Benefits,
and individual departments have each developed packets of materials which
are mailed to new employees within the first few weeks of employment.
The packets can be shared during the interview
Make sure to evaluate the current orientation material and modify it
Providing photographs and biographies of staff is extremely helpful to new employees to identify ther staff and facilitate communication through common interests and experiences. The biographies should be a mix of professional and personal information. Another element that will enhance clear communication is writing down and explaining acronyms and other buzzwords which are used with a special meaning other than how a dictionary may define them.
You may or may not know if your new employee has a disability since an employee may have an invisible or hidden disability. Individuals with a disability want to be as successful at their job as employees without a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment practices and employment related activities. This includes orientation, training, job assignments, etc. Whether you know or do not know if the employee has a disability, don't make assumptions. The simplest way to find out is to ask: Is there a need to accommodate you in any way? If so, how? How can this be made more accessible to you? How can this orientation experience be made the most beneficial to you? The key is to ask and involve the person in the planning process.
The new employee should be taken to a space that is neat, orderly, and
ready for work to begin. It should contain a desk, chair, telephone, and
other equipment such as a computer, typewriter, or calculator as appropriate
to the position. Office keys should be on hand.
The UMD Department of Human Resources holds new employee orientation sessions on a periodic basis. Check with this office to find out what current new employee information is available and to schedule an orientation meeting.
A memo should be sent to departmental staff announcing the arrival of
the new employee and the orientation timetable. Make a copy of it and
give it to the new employee as well. It should include the employee's
name and nickname (if appropriate), starting date, office telephone number,
and a brief description of the employee's background and other relevant
Before meeting with the new employee, the supervisor and trainers should have read this guide, reviewed the appropriate attachments, and gathered the required forms and documentation to be discussed with the new employee. Most importantly, the supervisor and staff should be able to answer the questions pertinent to the office and the position. It is recommended that brief answers be formulated and written down, either as part of the employee's job procedural manual or formulated in the order in which they will be covered with the employee. Encourage the employee to take notes in order to review the material at a later date.
The employee is enthusiastic about being hired and the orientation will
be an opportunity to confirm the employee's decision to join your department.
Nurture the employee's thirst for knowledge. New employees are willing
and eager to learn. Orientation need not be difficult nor time consuming.
In fact, a successful orientation will save time in the long run. Avoid
compressing everything into the first day.
Depending on the size of the immediate staff and out of consideration for the new employee, it may be helpful to have the staff wear name tags the first day. Inform the employee of what is going to happen. Give the new employee an orientation schedule and a folder in which to place additional material. Show the employee his or her workspace and offer refreshments. Make initial introductions either by walking the person around or having staff members meet in a group at a specified time and location.
The supervisor's role during orientation must be an active one. Calendars
should be open to devote as much time as possible on the first day to
the new employee. Exactly what is covered from the Orientation Checklist
and when it is discussed is based on what the supervisor wants the employee
to know the first day. A good way to set priorities for those items from
the Orientation Checklist not included the first day is to ask the employee:
What would you like to discuss next? What projects or information are
you most interested in knowing about? A few employees will want the big
picture first; most will want to start simply and build to the more complex.
This allows the employee's individual preference to shape the formulation
of theorientation. It also is a way to have the employee add other items.
What, if any, orientation process differentiation should there be for
a part-time or temporary employee compared to a regular employee? The
part-time employee with an on-going appointment should have the same orientation
as an employee with a regular on-going appointment. The temporary employee,
on the other hand, usually has the unique distinction of fulfilling a
need for a specified period of time.
What can a supervisor or trainer do to provide a learning environment that helps an employee retain the information and maintain interest during orientation? These two areas are critical in reducing the amount of information needing to be repeated during and after initial training has taken place. The following is a list of ways that will enhance the employee's ability to retain information and keep his or her attention focused:
* Vary the training method, be friendly and natural
Information overload, too much, too fast, is a common occurrence during
orientation Body language such as less verbal interaction, detachment,
and inability to sit still can be obvious signals. One of the ways to
be proactive and head off information overload is to practice the
Relaying pride in the University and its traditions will reinforce the employee's choice to work here. Focus on why people choose to be involved with UMD and emphasize the importance of the services provided by UMD to the community. Relay how much the staff are valued by your department and the impact staff have in accomplishing the department's mission and goals. Have the new employee complete a staff biography to add to the office directory or to be used for the arrival announcement. Providing an organizational history and a personal biography will help to establish a sense of purpose and belonging.
Explain how this position fits in the office, department, and UMD. Use
the department packet of information and the organizational charts to
explain how the employee's position and work group fits into the total
structure. Outline the reporting lines. This allows the employee to see
at-a-glance where he or she fits and the relationships among various groups
The degree to which the employee engages in sustained communication, discussion, active listening, etc., will determine the degree to which information will be remembered. Encourage the employee to keep notes. Schedule the orientation in a meeting room or enclosed space to maintain privacy. This will keep outside distractions to a minimum.
New employees are eager to demonstrate their skills and create a good impression. The supervisor should recognize this and actively involve the employee in a task or current project as soon as possible. The first job assignment should have distinct parameters and steps for completion within a given time frame. The essential ingredient of the task is to provide a sense of achievement for the employee and a means to appraise the work by the supervisor. As noted earlier, this will set the stage for future performance appraisals.
The first day of orientation should include a luncheon and an end of the day activity, such as a meeting with the supervisor or mentor. Lunch should be informal and as relaxed as possible. The location of the luncheon should be either on-campus or close to campus to familiarize the new employee with local food service. The way in which the first day ends is just as important as the way it began. The supervisor should spend the end of the day with the new employee discussing how the first day went and communicating the next step in the orientation plan. End on a positive note, perhaps to the point of walking the employee to the door at the end of the work day.
At the end of the first week of orientation, the supervisor should discuss the Orientation Review form with the employee. The Orientation Review form is another part of the orientation process that will assist the supervisor and the employee in communicating effectively. As the overview statements are discussed, it will provide an opportunity for the employee to ask for further information or clarification. It is also a time for the supervisor to ask how the employee thinks the job is different from what the employee expected. Time should be allowed for other questions from the employee. A regular meeting should be arranged between the supervisor and employee to discuss items, as long as there are items and job tasks to discuss. It is recommended that within the first few weeks of employment the supervisor should take the opportunity to ask the employee to discuss ways in which the employee's strengths can be best utilized and developed. Discussion about the employee's career or developmental plan also may be appropriate at this time. This reinforces the department's mission in continuing education on a personal level.
The support materials detailed in this section and referred to in the
other sections of this guide will assist the supervisor in a variety of
ways. They will provide a means for the supervisor to review the diversity
of information to be discussed in an orientation, offer suggestions for
a plan of activities, include items to cover with the new employee, and
provide a checklist template to be used generically for each orientation.
The checklist template information can also be used to create another
checklist developed by the supervisor.
Supervisors and other staff members should be prepared for the arrival
of the new employee to provide a warm welcome, to put the employee at
ease, and to create a positive impression of your department.
Notify appropriate staff of the plan which outlines roles and activities:
Designate a work area
Collect appropriate paperwork and forms for completion
Prepare a first job assignment
End of First Week
After Two Weeks
After Four Weeks
The checklist of orientation items below shows the most common topics
that are typically covered during new employee orientation. They are divided
into several categories; supervisors may wish to add or eliminate items
from the list. The phrase or question by each item should be used as a
starting point for discussion and further detail.
Check those that apply to you.