When my firm conducts a brand assessment for a healthcare organization, we always ask to sit through the new employee orientation. Usually, this is a full day (or longer) series of presentations. The marketing team is often surprised by our request to attend orientation. For me, it’s a no brainer. Orientation represents a formative opportunity to shape a new employee’s perception of your brand. I want to know what a new employee takes away from that experience. And let me tell you, most new employee orientations are not well crafted brand experiences.
Following the interview process, orientation is the first major occasion for the new hire to experience your organization’s brand in real depth. This represents a significant opportunity to communicate brand values, share brand stories, and establish cultural norms. Importantly, the experience should affirm the individual’s decision to join your organization and further fuel their passion for the organization’s mission. If they don’t come to the table with passion for your brand, orientation is a time to ignite passion.
Here are some tips and thoughts related to crafting a winning brand experience during new employee orientation:
- History – In orientation, we are often so busy covering the nuts and bolts, we forget to spend time on the organization’s origin story. History is important. Be sure to tell stories about the organization’s history. As you tell these stories, you’ll want to weave in messaging that effectively communicates your brand values.
- Stage the room – This is a special day and you are excited to have these individuals join your organization. So make it feel like a celebration. Post welcome signs that let other employees know that orientation is taking place. Also, think about having namecards for each of the attendees. That will help the employees get to know one another and will allow presenters to use the names of new employees when they speak to them. Above all, go ahead and create a welcoming environment. Set the right tone.
- Brand the presentation – Take the development of the various presentations seriously. Use a well-crafted brand template for the PPT presentations (if you’re using PPT). Don’t let it feel cobbled together. Show these new hires that your organization takes orientation, and its brand, seriously.
- Proof all the presentations – Typos and grammatical errors will send the wrong message to new hires.
- Have one person sit through and review every presentation – One of the challenges with new employee orientation is that there are usually multiple presenters — each responsible for his or her presentation. Therefore, there can be great variances in quality and messaging. That’s why you should have one person review each of the presentations and sit through a trial run. This is your brand. Take it seriously.
- Storytelling – (This point is worth reiterating.) If you’re going to have new employees spend a full day in a conference room listening to presentations, please make sure your presenters weave in some meaningful stories that help communicate your organization’s values and history. This will make the day so much more memorable and interesting.
- Cadence and Pacing – Be respectful of the new employee’s time. Make sure your presenters have rehearsed and effectively use the time that is alloted for their presentation. If you’ve only got four hours of good content, don’t try to stretch it into a daylong presentation. You don’t want these new employees sitting there with big gaps of time where nothing is happening. It is the kiss of death when a presenter is scheduled for an hour and only uses 20 minutes. That leaves the attendees with 40 minutes to kill. If three or four of your presenters do that, you will have wasted a great deal of your employees’ day and unknowingly showed a lack of respect for their time.
- Multimedia – To shake things up, be sure to weave in a few short videos that are relevant. Often a well crafted video will make a point succinctly and in an engaging fashion.
- Introduce Interactive Elements – A full day of training in a conference room can be overwhelming and monotonous. The curriculum is often flat (PowerPoint slides) and lacks any type of dynamic quality. To make the day more effective and memorable, I recommend integrating dynamic elements at key points throughout the day. For example, it would be fun and instructive to have the attendees take a quiz at the beginning of the session, testing their knowledge of your organization. Then the moderator would go through each item and have attendees offer up answers. The moderator would then provide the correct answer and an explanation. This would provide more of an interactive learning experience and break up the monotony of the day.
Above all, when designing your new employee orientation experience, remember that you are impacting the ways in which these individuals perceive your brand. So make the most of that opportunity!