What’s The First Thing Your New Employees Hear?


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I’ve written in the past about the importance of new employee onboarding and how it can shape people’s earliest impressions about a work environment (see “The Worst Onboarding Indignity… Ever!“).

While formal employee orientation programs are but one component of onboarding, they do offer a helpful litmus test to better understand what signals your firm is sending to new staff.

For starters, look at the agenda of one of your company’s employee orientation meetings. Who’s the first person these employees hear from? What’s the first thing they hear about? What topics get the most airtime during the meeting?

For one of my Fortune 100 clients, the answers to these questions were quite surprising – and disturbing. They discovered that the first thing new employees heard about at orientation was… the seventeen ways you could get fired for violating the company’s business ethics code.

Imagine what kind of signal that sends to new hires. For one, it suggests that the organization they’ve joined is very rules-based and bureaucratic. Some might even interpret it as a sign of distrust towards employees. Whatever way you slice it, it doesn’t make for a good impression!

And it’s not that this information isn’t important to new hires. They should know the seventeen ways you could get fired for violating the company’s business ethics code. But it sure doesn’t have to be the lead-off item on the agenda.

This might be a particularly egregious example, but companies engage in these sorts of missteps all the time – viewing employee orientation as an administrative exercise where paperwork gets signed, HR policies are communicated and organizational charts get distributed.

Think instead about employee orientation as an opportunity to highlight for new staff what really matters to your company.

Hopefully, that’s not the seventeen ways people can get fired, but something slightly more inspiring – like your business’ purpose, your reason for being, the principles that set you apart from competitors, and how these new hires fit into that big picture.

Through new hire orientations, companies have the power to set the tone for employees’ entire workplace experience. Don’t miss this opportunity to get new employee relationships started on the right foot.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jon Picoult
As Founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon Picoult helps companies impress customers and inspire employees. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Jon’s been featured by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall St Journal and The New York Times. He’s worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, personally advising CEOs and executive teams.Learn more at www.watermarkconsult.net or follow Jon on Twitter.


  1. Jon, thanks so much for a great reminder!

    You are absolutely correct, the employee orientation process is a great opportunity to get new employees engaged right off the bat with what the organization is all about and what it is trying to accomplish. That means it is a wonderful chance to message to these new ambassadors just how important the customer experience is to the vision of the company and how their new job (wherever it is in the company) connects with the Customer Value Chain. In fact, I would suggest that every new employee should leave the orientation with a clear idea of how their job impacts the overall Customer Experience, whether directly or indirectly. By accomplishing this, the company sends a powerful message to its newest constituents of what is REALLY important as they start their new adventure.

    Again, great job!

    Dr. John Miller


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