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New Employee Departmental Orientation: A Guide for Supervisors

important information


Assuming new duties and being in unfamiliar surroundings may cause a little stress and some anxiety for the new employee. This Guide for Supervisors is to help you help your new employee’s transition into the Boston College Community. As the supervisor, you have the most immediate effect on creating a positive initial experience and work environment. Making the new employee feel welcome, providing the necessary, basic information, and responding to questions and concerns are accomplished by a well-planned orientation.

Use the following information as a guide. Some items may not be applicable to the position or to your department. Remember, the new employee will be absorbing a great deal of information so teach the basics first. You may want to divide the topics into segments over the next two weeks.

For other suggestions and resources, take a look at Online Guide to Boston College for New Employees, which new employees receive in their orientation (brochure). (To navigate there from the Human Resources home page, choose "New Employees" in the left navigation panel, then then scroll down to "Orientation and Online Resources.")


Before the New Employee Arrives

Orientation is a process. It begins at the interview and continues through the probationary period. Use the time between acceptance offer and actual starting date to maintain contact with the new employee. You'll create a positive impression and reinforce the employee's decision that he or she made the right choice in accepting.

Here are some ideas to ensure that the first day starts off right and that the new employee feels welcome. Not all items will be appropriate for all employees.

  • Send the new employee a welcome letter indicating:
    • Reporting time, date and place
    • Whom to report to on first day
    • Job description
    • Position, title, and salary
    • Length of probationary period
    • Organizational chart for employee’s function or division
    • Directions to the department
    • Where to park
    • Suggested office attire
  • Announce to department and other appropriate employees new employee’s name, arrival date, and overview of responsibilities. Encourage their support in welcoming the employee.
  • Finalize logistics for departmental welcome.
  • Choose an individual from your work group to be available during the new employee's first week to answer any questions, give a tour of the department and campus, and to take to lunch at department’s expense. This person should be someone who wants to do this, who will make the new person feel welcome, and whose performance and attitude will reflect positively on the department and University.
  • Clean desk/workstation and/or office.
  • Order suppliies and stock desk/workstation.
  • Order business cards.
  • Assemble appropriate office resources, e.g., directories, dictionaries, computer program manuals, staff listing; University-wide and job-specific terminology and acronyms
  • Prepare meaningful and interesting tasks for first day and first week.
  • Prepare a “first week” schedule of meetings, on-the-job trainings, and tasks for employee to refer to

Technology Needs and Training

Information Technology Services has technology-related things you need to know, including Training and Communications.

The Technology Consultant is your resource. He or she is eager to assist you in seeing that the new employee has the requisite technology and the training to use it. Contact your TC to:

  • Review technology needs and training
  • Arrange one-on-one technology training for new employee

Technology needs and training may include these items:


Employee's First Day

Making the new employee feel welcome is your top priority. You'll want to time the giving of information to meet the new employee's needs and to avoid information overload. Here are some suggestions. Please customize to meet the needs of your own area.

  • Introduce the new employee to other members of immediate staff and other key departmental members
  • Provide information on obtaining a BC ID and parking permit
  • Provide general orientation to office and departmental policies and procedures (also refer to Employee Handbook).Topics may include:
    • Issuing required keys
    • Employee’s work schedule
    • Department work hours
    • Breaks (lunch, coffee)
    • Dress code
    • Department and university culture
    • Campus Mail
    • Attendance
    • Punctuality
    • Confidentiality issues
    • Security
    • Personal safety
    • No smoking policy
    • Customer Service tenets
  • Provide organizational overview by:
    • Presenting organizational chart to employee
    • Discussing Department’s function, goals, objectives, and culture
    • Explaining inter-relationship of department with other departments
    • Describing place of employee within the department
    • Describing main functions of other members in department
  • Introduce employee to other assigned staff member who will take new employee to lunch
  • Arrange a tour to include these locations, as appropriate:
    • Work area
    • Conference room
    • Lounge area
    • Vending machines
    • Restrooms
    • Water fountain
    • Copy machine
    • Fax machine
    • Bulletin boards
    • Dining Hall(s)
    • Supply room
    • Staff parking and assigned parking spots


Examples of First-Day Work Assignments

Completing a meaningful work assignment on the first day of employment is important. The new employee will feel useful and needed, and it will lessen any anxiety he or she may have. Identify specific tasks that can be completed following little training. The list below contains samples of first-day activities. Such activities could also be scheduled throughout the week as part of the departmental orientation. Not all activities are appropriate for all employees.

  • Create password and greeting for voicemail use
  • Have set up one-to-one interviews with co-workers and specialists
  • Attend meetings to meet key people
  • Review files created by the previous job holder
  • Operate tools or equipment critical to the job
  • Attend a training session
  • Conduct a safety inspection
  • Use the computer
  • Assemble or review written resources
  • Work on a process or procedure related to the business of the department
  • Assign a first project and schedule a follow-up meeting
  • Meet with the employee at day's end to answer questions, review important information, give encouragement, and reinforce how happy everyone is to have him or her on board.


During the Employee's First Week

New employees are interested in, and need a sense of, where they fit within the department and Boston College. They will need information on both the University's and your department's objectives, policies, values and plans. Other topics might include:


At orientation, employees receive a resource packet containing an overview of Boston College. Its contents include history, organizational structure, campus environment, technology services, and various policies and procedures. The back pocket also contains several brochures. Among them are the policy on discriminatory harassment, emergency preparedness, Employee Development Program offerings, and a pocket guide to Jesuit education. In these first few weeks, please encourage your new employee to review these materials and be available to answer any questions or supplement the information.


During Employee's First Month

New employees are highly motivated to do their job and to demonstrate their skills and abilities. Give them time to learn the basics — the hows, wheres, and whys of getting things done. Have them learn by doing under direction and try to provide the information just before the person needs to use it. Reinforce this motivation by:

  • Checking if employee received all training necessary for his/her position
  • Reviewing job description performance expectations
  • Meeting regularly to discuss any issues or concerns


Within Three Months



Other Resources

Here are other resources that may be useful for your new employee as well as yourself during this time of transition. These books have an easy-to-read format with bulleted information, checklists, and self-evaluation questions. And they're inexpensive.

Helping Your New Employee Succeed. E. Holton and S. Naquin. Berrett-Koehler. 2001.

So You're New Again: How to Succeed When You Change Jobs. E. Holton and S. Naquin. Berrett-Koehler. 2001.

Your First Thirty Days. E. Chapman and R. Maddux. Crisp Publications. 1992.

Find the Bathrooms First! Starting Your New Job on the Right Foot. R. Blitzer and J. Reynolds-Rush. Crisp Publications. 1999.


How to Design and Conduct a Successful Orientation Program. Training Clinic. 1990.

New Employee Orientation: A Practical Guide for Supervisors. C. Cadwell. Crisp Publications, Inc., 1988.

Successful New Employee Orientation. J. Barbazette. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. 1994.