Day 1: How to Run Your New Hire Orientation

So you’ve hired your first employee and completed the necessary pre-hire steps. You’re right on track! Now it’s time to prepare for your new employee’s orientation. What do you do? Don’t worry! We’ll help you through it.

The orientation process might seem overwhelming now, but it will seem much less daunting as you hire more employees and find a process that works for you. This article focuses on new hire orientation and also breaks down the process into three core areas: required documentation, required notices, and developing a workplace culture.

Required Documentation

Before you do anything else, you should understand what documentation is required. The paperwork outlined below is essential to legally hire an employee. You must file these documents with the appropriate government agency and must be maintain a copy in the employee’s file. 

  • New Employee Report. This contains the employer’s information and then information on the new employee, such as name (obviously), address, and “start-of-work” date (typically the orientation date). The employer or the employee can complete this document. 
  • Employee Withholding Allowance Certificate. This contains several questions that regarding the employee’s life that is used to determine the amount of taxes withheld from the employee’s paychecks. The employee must complete this form.
  • W-4 This is related to the previous withholding allowance certificate. These documents determine tax withholdings for the employee’s paychecks each pay period. The employee must also complete this form.
  • I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. Basically, this is a quasi-background check that certifies that the employee has the proper credentials to work in the U.S. There are different categories of documents that properly certify an employee, all of which are clearly laid out here.

Required Notices

In addition to gathering and filing the above paperwork, there are certain notices that every employee must receive. The required notices below include both Federal and California State:

  • Paid Sick Leave provisions (read me);
  • Equal Employment Opportunity notice;
  • A “Notice to Employee” document that contains basic disclaimers and information;
  • Federal and California minimum wage requirements (read me);
  • Military Leave provisions;
  • Workplace safety provisions under OSHA (read me);
  • Disability Insurance provisions;
  • Information on Paid Family Leave (read me);
  • A sexual harassment pamphlet, which is basically what it sounds like — Yikes!;
  • The Worker’s Compensation information material;
  • Whistleblower protections;
  • Time off to vote;
  • Employee rights under the Polygraph Protection Act;
  • The Notice of Victims Rights (domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking);
  • Emergency contact information; and
  • Payday notices.

*Pro tip:*  These required notices can be difficult to keep track of, because they can be updated at any time. To lessen risk and give you more peace of mind, it is sometimes a good idea to purchase the standard notices poster from the State each year. However, the poster must be either in plain view for all employees to see in the office, or provided in digital form to employees.

Workplace Culture

Phew! Paperwork is the pits. But now on to the (hopefully) more fun part. The new hire orientation is also a time to introduce the employee to your workplace culture by setting expectations about conduct, dress code (if applicable), and other “house rules” for your business.

Generally speaking, one of the most common and effective ways to do this is by having a solid, up-to-date employee handbook that contains all of this information in one easy place. The employee(er) handbook, as we call it, is fundamental to melding your workplace culture. For more information, check out our article on handbooks.

Additionally, there may be other unwritten policies or norms that will need to be incorporated into workplace operations. These are equally as important in defining your workplace’s culture. After all, this is your chance to make the new employee feel welcome and nurtured. Step #1 for having a happy workplace is fostering happy people (a.k.a. performance management in action).


New hire orientation can be a headache, but it’s important to consider how much of an opportunity this is for developing the employment relationship. With open arms and compliant minds, we know that your new hire orientation will be a great success! But don’t forget, we are always here and happy to help you along this journey.

By: Zach Avina
Updated by:  Olivia Phillips  –  12/29/17

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