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Onboarding Steps and Process

While often used interchangeably, onboarding and orientation are not the same. Orientation covers need-to-know info for new employees: benefits sign-up, parking information, systems access, office kitchen protocol, etc. On the other hand, onboarding dives deeper and has a greater impact on retention as it calls for employers to make sure people have the tools they need to be successful, engaged, and empowered in their new positions.

Inclusive onboarding expands beyond supervisor and employee involvement to connect employees with institutional missions and values, employee resource groups, mentorship opportunities, and more – the process is truly a department-, unit-, even institution-wide effort.

For information geared towards supervisors regarding either orientation or onboarding, please see the topics below. Clicking on any of the headers below will expand the selection to show additional information.

New Employee Orientation

As part of the hiring process, all new benefits-eligible staff will be automatically registered for new employee orientation [PDF] and the date for orientation will be included on the official offer letter sent by the HR Service Center. Similarly, new benefits-eligible faculty will be automatically enrolled in orientation. That date will be shared with both the department and new employee.

As orientation is a half-day virtual session, it is important that no meetings with the new employee be scheduled during the session. Ideally, pertinent team meetings would be rescheduled to allow the new employee to participate fully.

New Faculty Welcome

In addition to new employee orientation for benefits-eligible employees, department heads and deans are strongly encouraged to have new faculty attend Ohio University’s New Faculty Welcome.

Hosted by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the New Faculty Welcome provides critical information, resources, and support for new faculty joining any of Ohio University's campuses. The event offers information regarding critical processes and procedures, student support and success, promotion and tenure, tapping resources that support teaching and research, and key introductions to University contacts.

Orientation Checklist for Supervisors

The first day can be overwhelming for new employees and their supervisors. When setting a start date, supervisors should ensure that their schedule is as clear as possible so they can engage new employees in an interactive departmental orientation: making introductions, sharing pertinent office information, etc. Supervisors are encouraged to utilize the departmental new hire checklist [Docx] and establish an itinerary for the first day that a new employee will be in the office.

Aligning Employees with University Mission, Values, Strategic Pathways, and Initiatives

A robust recruitment plan typically includes sharing information about the institutions overall mission, values, and strategy as it helps inform a candidate’s decision regarding an offer of employment. Once an employee has accepted that offer, reaffirming this information can help solidify their understanding of their role within the university and their sense of belonging at OHIO.

There are various ways supervisors or departmental leadership can incorporate this information into onboarding. First, supervisors encouraged to share relevant resources such as the Mission and Values and University Culture web pages and the Dynamic Strategy page from the Office of the President. Additionally, these high-level focuses should also be taken into consideration when setting goals with employees as discussed in the performance management section. Lastly, whenever possible, supervisors should encourage employees to attend relevant campus events such as the annual Faculty and Staff Convocation hosted by the Office of the President. 

Encouraging Engagement with University Involvement Opportunities

University-wide, there are a variety of involvement opportunities for faculty and staff such as employee affinity organizations, professional development programs, senates and committees, and a wide-array of campus and community events.

Again, supervisors are encouraged to share this information with new employees as early as possible so that new employees feel empowered to immerse themselves into the campus community as quickly as possible. Additional information is available on the Get Involved at OHIO web page.

Establishing Awareness of University Resources and Wellness

Beyond involvement opportunities, there are a variety of resources available to ensure that employees feel supported and engaged throughout their employment and, similarly, it is critical for employees to know that departmental-, unit-, and university leadership all value employee wellness and engagement.

Available resources include, but are not limited to, our Employee Assistance Program; Office for University Accessibility; wellness programs; the LGBT, Multicultural, and Women’s Centers; meditation spaces; lactation spaces and more.

For more information on these and other resources, employees and supervisors are encouraged to visit the Accessibility, Accommodations and Inclusion web page or contact their HR Liaison.

Aligning Employees with Departmental or Unit-wide Missions and Values

Beyond university-wide mission and values, it is important that department leadership can also help employees align with department- and unit-specific goals. As noted above, the performance management model provides a great opportunity for employees and supervisors to connect positions back to bigger-picture strategies via goals that embody mission and values.

Encouraging Engagement via Departmental or Unit-wide Involvement

Aside from mentorship opportunities, many departments or units also have additional internal involvement opportunities such as diversity committees, reading groups, various special events, etc. When welcoming a new employee, supervisors are encouraged to share general information about such opportunities and calendars with new employees prior to their start date. Doing so allows new employees to explore opportunities and be prepared to ask questions or discuss interests upon their arrival.

Providing Departmental Mentorship Opportunities

As more and more institutions recognize the value of peer mentorship or group mentorship, various departments at OHIO are developing their own internal mentorship programs wherein new hires are paired with peers whose work embodies the core mission and whose behavior embodies the core values of the department, college, or university. While this approach has typically been studied with new faculty, research also suggests that establishing peer networks and mentorship opportunities is beneficial for new staff.

If your department is interested in learning more about existing examples across campus, or designing an internal peer mentorship model, please contact your HR Liaison. 

Fostering Key Connections

A critical component of onboarding is ensuring that people know how they align within the organization and with whom they should connect for various needs. On the first day, it’s fairly standard to introduce the new employee to anyone in the office, but it’s difficult to make any real connection in those brief hallway greetings.

It is recommended that supervisors utilize a calendaring tool to set up meetings throughout the first several weeks for more thorough introductions with key contacts: teammates, research partner(s), supervisor(s), department/planning unit head(s), HR liaison, campus partner(s), community partner(s), etc.

When creating the meeting invites, supervisors can help facilitate the conversation by providing pertinent information such as summarizing the value of the connection and/or by providing key talking points.

Managing Performance through Goal-setting and Check-ins

A primary goal of onboarding is ensuring employees have what they need to be successful in their new position. An easy way to get the ball rolling is by jumping into the performance management model: establishing what both short- and long-term SMART goals are, identifying what resources and/or training may be necessary, and engaging in open, honest check-in sessions to evaluate progress, answer questions, field ideas, etc.

When establishing goals, it is important that the supervisor not simply set goals for the employee, but rather, that both parties engage in an open dialogue about the needs of the role, where the new employee feels they can best contribute, and what new or ongoing projects are most likely to engage the new employee based on the employee’s skills and interests. This is also a critical opportunity for supervisors to help new employees align with the mission, values, and strategic plans of the department, planning unit, and university.

Additional information about performance management as well as available training opportunities for both supervisors and non-supervisors is available on Performance Management web page.

Strengthening Team Dynamics

Helping a new employee become an integrated member of a team can be challenging and takes more than some icebreakers. Supervisor or department heads can take a variety of steps to assist in this process such as facilitating introductory meetings, preparing existing team members by sharing the new employee’s qualifications and areas of interest in advance of the new employee’s arrival, and/or seeking understanding of where new expertise may be most welcome on existing projects.

Many supervisors or department heads may wish to engage in team exercises wherein all team members take an assessment such as DiSC. It is important that, should a team engage in such an assessment, next steps or action items also be identified to make the experience most meaningful. For more information, please contact Lewis Mangen, Director of Organizational and Talent Development at

Creating Departmental Onboarding Events

While onboarding is, by definition, a process that endures throughout the employee’s tenure, some departments have elected to created events that combine, standardize, and calibrate some general onboarding efforts in order to assist supervisors with the process.

Such events take varying forms across campus. In one example, a unit holds a semi-annual all-day meeting geared towards only new faculty and staff. During that time, new employees have an opportunity to get to know each other and unit leadership, learn about the unit’s mission and values, and are encouraged to learn about how each department aligns with the overall university strategic initiatives. This event also provides an opportunity for new faculty and staff to handle some orientation-style topics such as any mandatory training.

In another example, the unit conducts an annual meeting for all faculty and staff – new and old – to come together for a workshop-style event wherein everyone has the opportunity to network, share newsworthy information, engaged in team-building activities, and kick-off new efforts that highlight the unit’s commitment to university strategic initiatives.

If your unit is interested in developing event to assist in the onboarding process, please contact your HR Liaison.