New Employee Orientation & Onboarding A guide for new employees and their managers

New Employee Orientation & Onboarding


Outcomes: This is a welcoming work environment with informed colleagues and a fully-equipped workspace; new employees feel “settled in” on their first day.


Schedule and Job Duties

  • Submit the Hire transaction
  • Call employee:
    • Confirm start date, time, place, parking, dress code, etc.
    • Identify computer needs and requirements.
    • Provide the name of their onboarding buddy.
    • Remind employee to complete tasks on the New Hire Activity page in Atlas.
  • Add regularly scheduled meetings (e.g. staff and department) to employee’s calendar.
  • Prepare employee’s calendar for the first two weeks.
  • Plan the employee’s first assignment.



  • Email department/team/functional area of the new hire. Include start date, employee’s role, and bio. Copy the new employee, if appropriate. (See Tools & Resources)
  • Set up meetings with critical people for the employee’s first few weeks.
  • Arrange for lunch with the appropriate person(s) or buddy for the first day and during the first week.
  • Select the buddy. (See Buddy Guidelines)
  • Meet with the buddy, and provide suggestions and tips. (See Buddy Guidelines)
  • Arrange for a campus tour.


Work Environment

  • Put together welcome packet from the department and include the job description, welcome letter, contact names and phone lists, campus map, parking and transportation information, mission and values of the Institute, information on your unit/school, etc.
  • Clean the work area, and set up cube/office space with supplies.
  • Order office or work area keys.
  • Order business cards and nameplate.
  • Arrange for parking, if needed.
  • Add the employee to relevant email lists.


Technology Access and Related

  • Order technology equipment (computer, printer, iPad) and software.
  • Contact local IT and/or IS&T to have the system set up in advance.
  • Arrange for access to common drives, and coordinate SAP roles authorizations.
  • Arrange for phone installation.



  • Remind employee to sign up for an in-person New Employee Orientation session.
  • Arrange pertinent training required for the job.



Outcomes: The employee feels welcomed and prepared to start working; begins to understand the position and performance expectations.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Clarify the first week’s schedule, and confirm required and recommended training.
  • Provide an overview of the functional area – its purpose, organizational structure, and goals.
  • Review job description, the outline of duties, and expectations.
  • Describe how employee’s job fits in the department, and how the job and department contribute to the unit/school/DLC and the Institute.
  • Review hours of work. Explain policies and procedures for overtime, use of vacation and sick time, holidays, etc. Explain any flexible work policies or procedures.



  • Be available to greet the employee on the first day.
  • Introduce employee to others in the workplace.
  • Introduce employee to his/her buddy.
  • Take employee out to lunch.


Work Environment

  • Give employee key(s) and building access card.
  • Escort employee to MIT Welcome Center to complete I-9 and obtain MIT ID.
  • Remind employee to complete tasks on New Hire Activity page in Atlas.
  • Discuss transportation and parking or escort employee to MIT Parking & Transportation office to obtain a parking sticker.
  • Provide department or building-specific safety and emergency information.
  • Take employee on a campus tour.
  • Explain how to get additional supplies.


Technology Access and Related

  • Provide information on setting up voicemail and computer.


Outcomes: New employee builds knowledge of internal processes and performance expectations; feels settled into the new work environment.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Give employee his/her initial assignment. (Make it something small and doable.)
  • Debrief with the employee after he/she attends initial meetings, attends training, and begins work on the initial assignment. Also touch base quickly each day.
  • Provide additional contextual information about the department and organization to increase understanding of the purpose, value-add to MIT, goals, and initiatives.
  • Explain the annual performance review and goal-setting process.
  • Review the process related to the probationary period.



  • Arrange for a personal welcome from the unit leader.


Technology Access and Related

  • Ensure employee has fully functioning computer and systems access and understands how to use them.



Outcomes:  Employee is cognizant of his/her performance relative to the position and expectations; continues to develop, learn about the organization, and build relationships.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Schedule and conduct regularly occurring one-on-one meetings.
  • Continue to provide timely, on-going, meaningful “everyday feedback.”
  • Elicit feedback from the employee and be available to answer questions.
  • Explain the performance management process and compensation system.
  • Discuss performance and professional development goals. Give the employee an additional assignment.



  • Continue introducing employee to key people and bring him/her to relevant events.
  • Meet with employee and buddy to review first weeks and answer questions.
  • Arrange for the employee to take MIT tour (if not already completed).



Training and Development

  • Ensure employee has attended Human Resources New Employee Orientation.
  • Ensure employee is signed up for necessary training.



Outcomes:  Employee is becoming fully aware of his/her role and responsibilities, beginning to work independently and produce meaningful work. He/she continues to feel acclimated to the environment, both functionally and socially.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Continue having regularly occurring one-on-one meetings.
  • Meet for informal three-month performance check-in.
  • Continue giving employee assignments that are challenging yet doable.
  • Create written performance goals and professional development goals.
  • Discuss appropriate flexible work options.



  • Have employee “shadow” you at meetings to get exposure to others and learn more about the department and organization.
  • Have a check-in with the employee and buddy.
  • Take employee out to lunch, and have an informal conversation about how things are going.


Training and Development

  • Ensure employee attended a New Employee Orientation session. Request the employee provide feedback on the sessions and share as appropriate.
  • Ask if needed training is completed.
  • Provide information about continued learning opportunities including tuition assistance, Your Learning Center, programs offered by Human Resources.


Outcomes:  Employee has gained momentum in producing deliverables, has begun to take the lead on some initiatives and has built some relationships with peers as go-to partners. The employee feels confident and is engaged in a new role while continuing to learn.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Conduct six-month performance review.
  • Review progress on performance goals and professional development goals.



  • Create an opportunity for an employee to attend or be involved in an activity outside of his/her work area.
  • Invite the employee to events (such as the breakfast, commencement or the Excellence Awards celebration), and introduce him/her to others.
  • Arrange for the employee to meet with appropriate head either one-on-one or in a small group setting with other new employees.
  • Meet with employee and buddy at the end of their structured buddy-relationship. Discuss how things went and what else would be helpful for the employee.



Outcomes:  Employee is fully engaged in the new role – applies skills and knowledge, makes sound decisions, contributes to team goals, understands how his/her assignments affect others in the organization, and develops effective working relationships. He/she has a strong understanding of MIT’s mission and culture. The employee continues to be engaged in his/her role and has gained greater confidence in position; begins to take on additional assignments and works with some level of autonomy.


Schedule, Job Duties, and Expectations

  • Celebrate successes and recognition of employee’s contributions.
  • Continue providing regular informal feedback; provide formal feedback during the annual review process.
  • Have a conversation with the employee about his/her experience at MIT to date:
    • The extent to which employee’s expectations of role and MIT align with reality.
    • Extent employee’s skills and knowledge are being utilized and ways to better utilize them; what’s working, what they need more of, etc.
    • Begin discussing the year ahead.



  • Support and encourage employee participating on either a DLC or Institute committee or cross-functional team.
  • Solicit employee’s feedback and suggestions on ways to improve the onboarding experience. Do this one-on-one or with a small group of new employees.


Training and Development

  • Discuss employee’s professional development goals and identify relevant learning opportunities.


Tools & Resources

To help with the onboarding effort, we’ve created a variety of tools relevant to the many components involved in this process. From the initial email welcoming your new employee, to choosing an Onboarding Buddy, to the provision of equipment and supplies, these tools are designed to cover the necessary bases for success from the first day to the first assignment.

  • Buddy Program
  • Equipment & Supplies
  • New Employee E-mail Announcement
  • Schedule for Employee’s First Day
  • Successful Communication
  • Successful First Assignment
  • Talking Points for Debrief Meetings
  • Working Location Tour
  • Onboarding Planning Tool

Buddy Guidelines for Human Resources and Hiring Managers

What is a Buddy?

A new employee’s onboarding is greatly enhanced by assigning an office Buddy, a fellow employee (other than the manager) who provides advice and guidance on the different aspects of working at MIT. A Buddy is also a “sounding board” who offers encouragement as the new employee acclimates to MIT’s culture and workplace.

Selection Criteria and Process

The successful Buddy is an employee who fully understands the Institute’s culture and environment (has been for at least one year) and wants to be a Buddy.

Additional criteria include:

  • Time to be accessible and available to the employee.
  • Familiar with employee’s role and work unit.
  • A solid performer.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Exemplifies values.
  • Patience and empathy.
  • Well regarded and trusted by others.

Individuals can volunteer to be considered as a Buddy or recommended by others. Local Human Resources and/or the hiring manager can make the final choice based on the selection criteria.

Buddy Responsibilities

In assisting a new employee, a Buddy serves as a valuable resource for creating a trusting relationship and maintaining confidentiality.

Responsibilities include:

  • Providing information on policies and procedures.
  • Identifying resources in the workplace.
  • Familiarizing the employee to culture, norms, and unwritten guidelines.
  • Introducing the employee to others in the unit and throughout.
  • Taking the employee on an expanded tour of the workplace and campus.
  • Answering questions and referring the employee to the appropriate resources.

Suggested Structure

Ideally, there is a formal, six-month relationship between the Buddy and the new employee. Toward the end of the six months, they can discuss if and how to continue their relationship outside of the structured Buddy role. On the employee’s first or second day, introduce the Buddy and employee. This introduction can be facilitated by your local HR or the hiring manager. Discuss Buddy’s role and responsibilities as well as the employee’s needs, and answer any questions. Ensure that the Buddy and employee meet during the first week (ideally for breakfast or lunch, if possible). Suggest and then allow the Buddy and employee to decide on the frequency, length, topics, and method of interaction between the two of them. The structure will vary. What’s important is that the arrangement is clearly defined and works for both the employee and the Buddy. Here is one of many possible examples:

Week 1:

  • Meet for an hour (over breakfast or lunch, if possible).
  • Learn about each other’s background, experience, interests, etc.
  • Decide on the most important and relevant things to cover.
  • Respond to any immediate questions employee may have.
  • Agree on frequency, length, and method of communication.

Months 1 and 2:

  • Meet weekly for a half hour (in person).
  • Be available for phone conversations and email.
  • Take employee on a campus tour.
  • Introduce employee to other colleagues.

Months 3 and 4:

  • Meet bi-weekly for a half hour (mix of in person and by phone).
  • Be available for phone conversations and email.
  • Have a check-in with the employee, and local HR and hiring manager.
  • Invite the employee to relevant business or social events, and introduce him/her to others.

Months 5 and 6:

  • Meet monthly for an hour (in person).
  • Continue introducing employee to colleagues and inviting the employee to relevant business or social events.
  • Decide if and how to continue the Buddy relationship. Have a wrap-up with the employee, HR, and hiring manager.

Note: HR and/or the hiring manager is responsible for having a mid-point check-in and a wrap-up conversation with the employee and Buddy.

Onboarding Buddy Suggestions and Tips

As a Buddy to a new employee, you play an integral part in helping the employee successfully. Here are some suggestions to help you in this vital role.

Before the Employee’s First Day

  • Meet with your local HR or the hiring manager to clearly define your role, and schedule a date to have lunch with the employee during his/her first week.
  • If appropriate, call or email the employee. (Get contact information from local HR or hiring manager.)
  • Learn about the employee. Get his/her resume or background from HR or hiring manager. Google him/her. Check LinkedIn, etc.

On the Employee’s First Day

  • Stop by the employee’s office to introduce yourself. Confirm plans to meet with the employee later that week. Give him/her your business card (or contact information).

During the First Week

  • Take the employee to lunch. Share information about yourself – how long you’ve been at ______; what it was like when you first started; your role, interests, and hobbies. Learn about the employee’s background and interests.
  • Show the employee around the working area and make introductions.
  • Explain how to order equipment and supplies.
  • Take a walking tour around the office.

During the Following Months

  • Plan ahead by scheduling meetings for the next several months. Meet over coffee.
  • Check in with the employee in between regularly scheduled meetings to see how things are going and if he/she has any questions.
  • Continue introducing the employee to others.
  • Invite the employee to relevant business or social events.

Helpful Tips

  • Don’t worry about being perceived as the “expert” or think you need to have all the answers. Your experience at ______ is what’s most important to the employee.
  • In some situations, listening is more valuable than giving advice. Ask questions like “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”
  • We all have a preferred communication style. Talk about each other’s preferences, as the new employee may have a different style from yours.
  • Recognize that it takes time to develop a relationship.
  • Be patient, positive, and supportive. Don’t try or expect to cover everything over a short period of time.
  • Stay open-minded, and avoid being judgmental.
  • Maintain confidentiality.

Equipment & Supplies

Among the tasks to be completed prior to your new employee starting is the provisioning of proper equipment and supplies, which should be in place for his or her first day or work. This helps to establish both a level of comfort for the new hire as well as the means for work projects to begin in a timely manner. Keep in mind that some provisions can be acquired more quickly than others, so allow for additional time for the proper set-up of computer and phone services prior to your employee’s first day.

Equipment, supplies, and information to provide:

  • A campus map and access to and demonstration of campus directory
  • Keys to the building/office
  • Telephone, cell phone (if applicable)
    • Access to online and phone directory and other useful contacts
    • Voicemail set up and instructions
  • Computer and monitor
  • Tablet (if applicable)
  • Printer access (codes if required)
  • Photocopier (maintenance, supplies and codes if required)
  • Scanner and fax machine (codes if required)
  • General office supplies (stapler, tape dispenser, pens, scissors, paper)
  • How to request equipment, repairs, and supplies
  • Organizational charts
  • Business cards (if applicable)
  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________

New Employee E-mail Announcement

Welcoming a new employee? Here’s a template you can use to notify your DLC about a new colleague.

To:             [Staff in new employee’s work area/department]

From:         [Employee’s manager or Department Head]

Date:         [One week before new employee’s start date]

Subject:     Welcoming [New employee]

I’m very pleased to announce that [new employee] will be joining us as [job title] on [start date]. [New employee] will be responsible for [insert information about what he/she will be doing].

[New employee] has recently joined us from [information about recent relevant employment background].

Please come to [location of welcome gathering] on [date] to meet [new employee] and welcome [him/her] to our team!

You can reach [new employee] at:

[work address/office location]
[phone number]
[email address]

Best regards,

[Name of Manager]

Schedule for Employee’s First Day

The first day for a new employee can be overwhelming, with a flood of new faces, introductions, and information to help them gain familiarity with their new environment. To help ease the new hire into his/her role, it is important to focus the first day on the employee’s individual workspace, navigating the office itself, modes of communication, use of equipment, as well as office expectations.

Some first-day activities may be influenced by the job itself, so consider what’s most important for the new employee to know. When planning the first day, be sure to schedule some downtime as well as time to explore the office and campus. Other considerations could include the following:


  • Greet the employee, introduce him/her to the workspace, including where personal items are kept.
  • Provide facilities access information, security information, and keys.
  • Answer any immediate questions the employee may have.
  • Introduce employee to co-workers (and buddy, if assigned).
  • Meet with HR representative to complete any required paperwork.
  • Provide a tour of the immediate facilities (give personally, or assign a buddy).
  • Take the employee to obtain MIT ID and visit parking office, if applicable (or buddy, if assigned).
  • Give employee some time to get acquainted with his or her workspace.


  • Pre-arrange plans for lunch with you, the buddy and/or others, if possible.


  • Schedule time for the employee to become familiar with computer systems.
  • Arrange for the employee to receive any instructions and codes for the photocopier, fax, and other equipment or machinery he/she will use.
  • Go over any pertinent office policies and procedures (office hours, lunches and break times, phone coverage, etc.).
  • Allow time for the employee to settle in and review all of the information provided to him/her throughout the day.
  • Meet with the employee to debrief the day, answer any pending questions, and provide and explain the schedule and activities for the next several days.

Successful Communication

Regular, effective communication between a manager and employee creates an environment of mutual trust and respect while optimizing productivity. To this point, the early establishment of a positive communication pattern begins before the employee’s first day on the job. Discussing each other’s preferences can add clarity to both formal and informal exchanges from the earliest days in the manager-employee relationship.

Determine the preferred means of communication (e.g., in-person, phone, email, other).

  • Do you generally prefer to talk in order to understand, read in order to understand, or do you have another preference? How does this preference influence how and when you choose to receive information?

Set the expectation for communication with the employee.

  • Will you have one-on-one meetings? How often will they occur? Who will schedule them? What’s the format and how are topics selected? Individual meetings can improve morale by helping a new employee realize he/she is heard and valued. High morale generates a positive work environment. Use one-on-one sessions to inquire about the new employee’s goals, skills, and interests.
  • Do you have an open-door policy in your department? This communication style works well when the manager is truly able to accommodate “drop-in” interruptions and is willing to give the employee his/her full attention.
  • When the employee has an issue that he/she would like to discuss, how would you like to handle it?
  • If the new employee has an idea for changing or improving something, what is the most effective manner for him/her to introduce the idea to you? Would you prefer an initial question, an emerging idea, or a well-thought-out plan?

Clarify any specific language frequently used in the workplace.

  • What are the commonly used acronyms and abbreviations the employee should be aware of? Direct the new employee to the Institute’s online Acronym Guide as one way to ease into ABCs.

A Successful First Assignment

The first assignment is significant for several reasons. When all goes well, it can serve to build confidence in the new role, positions the employee for a successful start, and helps to establish productive interaction between the employee and his/her manager and co-workers.

To ensure that the first assignments are successful, consider the following to help set expectations and outcomes:

Explain the expected outcome(s) of the assignment.

  • What will be the end result of the assignment? Will it be newly created or updated?
  • What will the desired outcome look like? (Provide examples, if possible.)
  • How will success be measured?

Clarify the importance of the outcome(s).

This will help the employee connect the assignment to the overall organization.

  • Where do the results fit into the larger organizational picture? (Consider missions, goals, and priorities). This will help the employee understand the impact the job has on the organization.
  • Who will benefit from the results (students, faculty, staff, alumni, external stakeholders, others)?

Describe the key features of the assignment.

  • What actions or steps are required?
  • What resources or resource limitations may apply?
  • What are the deadlines? Will there be milestones to meet prior to the final deadline?
  • What is the priority of the assignment for the employee?
  • How will progress be monitored?

Define the level of authority the employee will exercise throughout the assignment.

  • Should the employee carry out exact instructions?
  • Should the employee bring recommendations to be decided by the manager?
  • What recommendations should the manager and new hire decide together?
  • If the new employee has the authority to make decisions, should he/she inform management before acting?
  • Will the new employee have the authority to make decisions, act, and then inform management of the outcome?

Let the employee know who else will be involved in the assignment.

  • Who can influence success?
  • Who will the employee need to consult with? (Ensure that the employee knows how to contact any relevant individuals.)
  • Who will the employee need to get resources from, if needed?

Identify potential issues, and determine how they will be addressed.

  • What could possibly interrupt or stand in the way of success in this assignment?
  • How should any potential issues be resolved?

In moving through this process, continue to check with the employee to ensure clear expectations are established and understood. Encourage questions and clarify what management will do to support the employee’s success.

Following completion of the assignment, it is recommended that the manager debriefs with the new employee to gain his/her perspective on what went well, and what may have been challenging. The conversation should also include the assignment’s outcomes, as well as how his/her interaction with other employees went and what may have been done differently.

Talking Points for Debrief Meetings

As covered in several of the other tools, a new employee’s first days, weeks, and months can be overwhelming as he or she assimilates a wealth of names, places, and other information. Scheduling regular debrief meetings with the employee gives managers the opportunity to clarify information and to answer any subsequent questions that may result from a meeting, orientation, or training session.

After an initial meeting with department/lab/center employees:

  • Who did you meet with? Explain the individual’s role in the organization (a current organizational chart may be helpful), and how individuals in these positions could interact with the new employee’s position.
  • What topics were discussed? Do you have any questions regarding the information covered?
  • Discuss how this individual can be a resource for the new employee (e.g. subject matter expert, authorizer, etc.).

After the in-person Human Resources Orientation session:

Not all new employees may feel comfortable asking questions at an orientation, so it’s critical to inquire whether the new employee has any additional questions afterward.

  • What did you learn about ______ at the orientation?
  • What additional questions do you have about any of the topics covered (e.g. the Institute’s mission, values, benefits)?
  • If not already discussed, tell the new employee how _________’s mission and values apply to your department/lab/center as well as to his/her position.

After a training session:

  • What was the topic of the training?
  • What new/important information did you take away?
  • What information did you find helpful or applicable?
  • What did you learn during the session that you anticipate using in your work? Discuss how the training benefits the employee in his/her new role.
  • Was there any information you did not understand or that was unclear?
  • What more do you need to know about the topic?

Working Location Tour

Among the tasks for the employee’s first day, a full tour of the new workspace can help to establish a level of comfort and ease while also serving as an opportunity to meet co-workers.

Important areas to cover include:

  • Restrooms
  • Break/lunch rooms
  • Kitchen, including any department procedures/norms
  • Closest dining hall, coffee/tea location, and vending machines
  • Local lunch options and locations
  • Supply room, including any department procedures/norms
  • Emergency and first aid supplies
  • Photocopy, fax machine, and scanner (including instructions on use)
  • Mail Room
  • Transportation services and stops
  • Emergency exits and procedures (and evacuation plans)
    • Including location of ______Medical
  • Location of office location relevant to _______campus

If there are other department locations on campus the employee will frequent, please make sure to include those spaces on the tour as well.

  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________
  • ________________________________________________


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