An 8 Hour New Hire Orientation? When Does HR Go Too Far?

Meredith Soleau Culture, HR, Meredith Soleau, Onboarding, Trench HR

My former intern called me yesterday.

Meredith, you will not believe this! I know how you feel about new hire orientations, so I couldn”t wait to tell you that they last EIGHT HOURS at my new job! Everyone is so bored. Can you tell me how to jazz it up?

My questions back to her were obvious.

How long is your employee handbook? 

About the same as yours.

How sophisticated is your medical insurance?

It”s an HSA. Just like you have. No big deal.

Well, what the heck are you doing in there for 8 hours?

We watch videos. There is a cheesy one about sexual harassment. There”s one about forklifts. There”s one about lifting with your legs and not with your back.

Here”s my suggestion… stop doing that. Cover what needs to be covered, and let them go start their jobs. No one wants to spend all day with HR, and you have better things to be doing with your time. 

I want to tell you guys something super important. Are you ready?

HR policies are boring to people who don”t do HR.

Stop boring people to death in your new hire orientations. I can”t think of anything you are teaching people in new hire orientation that would require 8 hours, or that they wouldn”t learn better hands-on once they get to their department.

A good HR new hire orientation should take about 3 hours, and maybe even 2 hours once you get really good at it.

First, I suggest you hit your big policies hard. This should take about an hour.

  • Don”t smoke at your desk, drink from a flask in your company car, or get high in the bathrooms.
  • Try not to date anyone that works here. We don”t like that sort of thing, and you”ll have to sign a Love Contract.
  • You can”t wear flip-flops on the plant floor, and leggings are not pants.
  • You can”t touch people or leer at them for too long.
  • Your mom doesn”t work here, clean up after yourself.
  • Don”t start a Texas Hold “Em tournament in the break room.
  • If you have Blackjack Switch a bad attitude, we”ll fire you.
  • Don”t steal our stuff. We”ll happily allow you to use anything you need while you”re here.
  • Protect the customer”s privacy.
  • Hit your performance goals because we”re evaluating you all the time.

Second, have them sign off on all the stuff you just went over, and fill out tax forms and I-9″s. This should take about 45 minutes.

Third, go over your benefits package. This takes about 30 minutes. If it takes any longer than that – you have a package that is much too complicated to navigate.

  • Here”s our medical insurance, and this what applies to the deductible.
  • Vision insurance will help you get cooler glasses. You can get $130 frames every year.
  • I am thinking you haven”t been to a dentist in a while, here”s a list of Dentists in our network.

Lastly, make sure they”re safe when they hit the floor. We have a safety manual that we go over. It”s about 20 pages with pictures. It takes me 30 minutes to get through it all, and I remind them that safety is common sense. Any job specific safety policies are addressed and taught on the job (e.g. forklift certification).

That”s it. Let them start their new position with your company, and you get back to your office so you can start inputting all of their information. Their manager can show them how to use the phone and log into the company network. That”s why you have managers. They manage people.

How long is your new hire orientation?

Meredith Soleau
Meredith Soleau was supposed to be a famous country singer, but her parents made her go to college and major in something “real.” She graduated with a B.S. in Business from the University of Toledo, and landed a gig as a Human Resources Director at a large car dealership in Ohio. After eight years of HR at a car dealership, she burned out, decided to sell cars herself, and has since launched her agency, where she specializes in finding blue-collar workers. Clearly she has plenty of stories. But the best stories are probably about Meredith, herself. Read them on her personal blog, meredithsoleau.com, where she holds nothing back. Follow Meredith on Twitter. Become her friend on Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.