Resist the temptation to make your new hire orientation fun.


will-work-for-cupcakes-signI think your first day of work is your best day of work.

  • Everyone is nice. Nobody hates you.
  • You don’t have any responsibility or accountability.
  • Someone will probably take you to lunch.

The worst part of your first day of work is doing the paperwork that accompanies a new job.

But you know what makes the first day of work even more insufferable than a pile of paperwork? Having a local HR team pretend like your first day on the job isn’t work.

I have a ton of HR friends who have spent years of their lives trying to revamp the “new employee orientation” from boring to amazing. They have created a fun and goofy experience where you’re meant to have a party and learn about the spirit and essence of a company. And that’s fine except your employees still have to select your health insurance and possibly fill out immigration forms at some point in the process.

But where there were once binders, now there’s an iPad! And you no longer get lectures straight from the company handbook because now you get to sit through a video presentation from the company’s CEO! And there are cupcakes! We also give out a goodie bag and a t-shirt!


I think most professional adults are okay with plowing through a few hours of paperwork if it allows them to get started sooner on the actual work they’ve been hired to do. And as much as you want to imbue the new hire orientation process with fun and meaning, nobody really understands the tempo and tone of an organization until they get to work and start building relationships.

The best thing you can do to your new employee orientation program is to make it as brief and efficient as possible. Resist the temptation to roll out a marching band. Kill the jazz hands. And it might be worth holding your recruiting team accountable. If they’re doing the work of communicating your employer brand, your new hires will come into your organization with a full understanding of what lies ahead.

Although I’m not saying you should kill the cupcakes.

That part is okay.

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