Blog | Academy for Nonprofit Excellence - Tidewater Community College -

Employee Orientation and Onboarding: Why it Matters

November 22, 2016

Most nonprofits spend considerable time and money identifying and selecting talent, but some fall short once the person starts with the organization. Think about your own orientation and onboarding strategies. What is the candidate experience once the offer is accepted and a start date is determined? 

An effective orientation creates a positive experience that lessens anxiety, encourages enthusiasm and helps socialization of the new hire. These factors contribute to higher productivity and staff retention.

Ideally, you want a new hire's first day to be the very best experience that it can be. Although there are always some transactional activities of completing I-9 forms and other administrative documents, an orientation program provides an opportunity for you to showcase your organization and lay the foundation for why you are an employer of choice. You want the new hire to affirm his/her decision to join your staff.

Orientation also provides a great opportunity to present your workplace culture. Be creative in selecting anecdotes about the work you're doing in the community. What are some of your success stories? It's also great for new hires to hear from multiple perspectives, so think about the people who can present your unique story during orientation. This may be senior leadership, board members, volunteers or recipients of your services.

Most orientation programs last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The length of your program doesn't matter as much as the message. The new employee's first day is a starting point and you want an upward trajectory for performance and excitement about your nonprofit.

You also want to have a solid plan in place for the new employee's first few weeks with the organization. Consider the things that you would want to know if you were starting with the organization. Even basic things like when and where to have lunch or find office supplies are important to making the new hire feel comfortable.

If you're not sure about the next steps to take your orientation and onboarding programs from blah to a-ha, please join us for Creating an Effective Employee Orientation Program and Engagement Strategy for your Organization on September 29, 2016.

During the session, you will learn:

  1. Why orientation and onboarding are important elements of your overall strategic plan;
  2. How to communicate with new employees about their roles and responsibilities with the organization such that they know what is expected of them and how they will be measured; and
  3. How to foster a culture of engagement within your organization.