In the non-profit world, new hires are expected to hit the ground running. But if you’ve been one of those new hires, you might remember how hard it is to get moving while you settle into your new workplace.

Since I started onboarding new staff at NOI, I’ve been asking our new hires what worked best for them in our orientation process. Their feedback is summarized below. If you’re in charge of onboarding new staff, take the time to go over the following with each new hire:

  • The history of your organization. In my very informal polls of our newcomers, folks were more interested in hearing about this on their first day than about anything else. Give new staff a sense of where they fit into your work by talking about when and why your organization was founded.
  • Where to look for policies. In my experience, folks don’t want to memorize your reimbursement policy, per diem info, and how to use the printer on the first day. They’ve got a lot of information coming in, and details like that will go in one ear and out the other. Instead of drilling in the policy info on Day 1, just make sure they know where to look when they need it. Give a brief overview of the important stuff (benefits, office hours, etc.) and point them to a document for everything else.
  • Organizational culture. Does your organization do lunch club? Talk about it in your orientation. Help folks adjust to your organization by telling them about the values you live by, and don’t forget to tell them about all the weird stuff they’re going to encounter. Our orientation documents include a list of acronyms and vocab that new NOI staffers might encounter, because we realized that new folks were often lost in conversations about our various programs and trainings.

Taking the time to talk about each of these points with new hires will make them feel like they’re part of the team, and it gives them the opportunity to ask questions about your organization.

How do you help new staff feel at home early on? Share in the comments!