Who is Responsible for New Employee Orientation?

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What is new employee orientation? Who conducts the process? Is it different than onboarding? Who is involved? You might think new employee orientation is HR’s responsibility, but there are many hands in the pot.

Orientation and onboarding play a critical role in the happiness, productivity, engagement, and retention of your employees. Their time with your company all starts here and will be influenced by how well the orientation process went, or how well it didn’t go.

How is New Employee Orientation Different Than Onboarding?

New employee orientation generally takes place on the first day of employment and sometimes only lasts a few hours. Orientation involves giving new hires a tour of the building, introducing them to new colleagues and maybe even executives. Orientation is one piece of the onboarding process.

Onboarding new hires can last 30, 60, or even 90 days. It is a process beginning from the first point of contact with the new employee. Onboarding includes interviews, orientation, training, and probation periods. For this article, we’ll discuss the different roles played in orientation on the new employee’s first day.

Key Roles in New Employee Orientation

Responsibility is shared throughout your company from top to bottom. Every employee plays a part in bringing on a new person. The goals of orientation is to achieve three things:

  1. Make the new employee feel welcome.
  2. Ensure they fully understand expectations.
  3. Get them ready for success in their new position.

These are the key roles required to achieve those goals.

Human Resources

We’d be lost without our beloved HR professionals. They play a major role in having employees, especially in onboarding and orientation. Before even starting orientation, the Human Resources team should ensure there is a thorough and updated framework for the orientation process. Whether this is a handbook, checklist, or training; managers and executives should all be on the same page with HR as to how they should conduct each orientation period. This helps prevent important information from falling through cracks and not reaching new employees.

HR should also develop the employee handbook and ensure all policies are updated as well. Spend a little time in orientation to ensure the new employee’s receive and understand the handbook and ensure they complete all necessary paperwork whether that is acknowledgment of the handbook, benefits forms, or NDAs.

It would also be a good idea for an HR professional to check in with the new employee after they’ve had a proper onboarding period of up to 90 days and make sure they don’t have any unanswered questions regarding policies or procedures.

Don’t have an HR department? Apply this info to the person who typically handles employee related issues like this or learn how you can have a whole team of HR professionals working for your business for less than the cost of one employee/year here.

Direct Manager

The direct manager of the new hire will most likely take the hands-on duties of orientation. This role plans and prepares a comprehensive orientation that includes:

  • Giving them a tour of the building including locations for office supplies, break room, etc.
  • Introducing them to their colleagues.
  • Showing the new hire their workspace and any involved tools and/or systems.
  • Ensuring all policies are clear (leave, sick time, vacation, etc.) as well as performance and attendance expectations.
  • Ensuring the employee is comfortable asking questions.
  • Communicating the company’s mission, goals, value, and the new employee’s role at the company.

Managers should also consider taking some time to build a strong professional relationship with new employees. Maybe treat them to lunch on their first day with a group of other new hire’s or colleagues they will frequently work with.


Although many executives won’t play a large role in new employee orientation, you should try to get involved to some extent. Welcoming new employees and briefly talking to them about what this company means to you can make a big impact on their first impressions of your business. After all, you’ve had a major influence in forming the business’s mission, values, and goals. Pass along your passion for what you do, it’s contagious.

It is also a good idea to ensure orientation is taking place and has at least a consistent structure through every onboarding session. You won’t need to do this often or spend much time on it. But it’s better to check-in instead of finding out later there was an issue that could have been avoided.


The employee’s participation is essential to the success of orientation. If they “just aren’t feelin’ it,” they probably aren’t a right fit for your company and won’t be staying long.

The employee’s part in orientation involves some skills, motivation, and a positive attitude. When you’re hiring, look for candidates who are always curious about their specific profession and your company, they should always be eager to learn and should be excited to start working for you.

Where Does Your Role Fit in New Employee Orientation?

Are you active in your company’s onboarding process? Now that you know the difference between onboarding and orientation, and where specific responsibilities lie, will you be making any changes to your orientation process? You never know, taking the time to meet your new employees and explain to them what this company means to you and their role in the organization could lead to more productivity, higher engagement, and better retention.

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