New Tools For New Hires? The Web 2.0 Awaits


By Holly MacDonald

New employee orientation programs provide a critical introduction for your employees to the culture of your organization, encapsulating your organization’s vision/mission.  This is what drives individual contribution and empowers the values that define the day-to-day operations.  Unfortunately they can be challenging to deliver for many organizations.

Some challenges are:

  • Sporadic or unpredictable hiring – infrequent or small numbers of new hires mean that each person who gets an orientation either has an ad hoc session with their manager and/or HR representative or waits until critical mass is reached to join a “group” session.  Otherwise, a manager has to wait to hire so it coincides with the orientation day.
  • Geographic dispersion – when employees are hired, but they are in different locations, it is costly to bring them together for a formal group session.
  • Consistency – delivering a formal orientation program face-to-face will always be dependent on the facilitator and the group dynamics, making it impossible to deliver a consistent experience every time.
  • Captive Audience/content focused – organizations often fall into the habit of telling new employees all sorts of information during the orientation day that is not applicable or feels “policy-centric” as the requisites are addressd: harassment, electronic communication rules, and the always boring process of benefits administration.

Here is where the web 2.01 goes to work turning NEO-phytes into rising stars.

Web 2.0 is the read/write web and provides the ideal toolkit and forum to provide immediate or on-demand orientation for any size organization.  The web 2.0 has evolved.  There are a number of tools that will help you welcome new employees, infuse them with the culture of your organization and provide a vital if virtual link to the vision, mission and strategy of the organization.

Most importantly, training day is now.  By harnessing the web 2.0, new employees begin to understand their role without waiting for a formal orientation day.   It might even allow you to onboard or bridge the hiring date with the start date.

Here are a variety of ways that companies of all sizes can use web 2.0 technology to enhance, extend and enrich their orientation programs.  Web 2.0 tools are cheap, easy to use and readily available.  Why not investigate some of these for your orientation programs?

Small Company

The small company only hires a few people each year and has a small HR department or maybe a lone ranger.  A manager does the formal orientation and/or or there is a checklist of information (policies, key people)  provided to new employees; it is a fairly casual affair.  In a web 2.0 world, what might this look like?

Upon hiring, the new employee is emailed a video from your organization that can be simply made and posted online via YouTube or posted to your organization’s server.   Such videos are inexpensive and easy to make depending on your access to equipment and experts.

On their first day, they power up their computer for the first time and the splash page takes them to a special URL on your intranet. You can build this using Drupal (, a free content management system.  Here, they will find:

Mid-sized Company
The mid-sized company hires more than 20, perhaps 100 new employees each year and currently holds a monthly one-day formal orientation, geographically constrained.  What might the web 2.0 bring to the experience?  Aside from the above:

  • The Information – a link to your company/department/team wiki where all important files are shared.   Cost to produce/host $0. Use PBWiki/Wetpaint/Wikispaces
  • Company Blogging – new employees are encouraged to blog about their experiences and read the blogs of others in the company.  Cost to produce/host $0.  Use a blogging service, like WordPress
  • An online scavenger hunt combines purpose and play.  Provide them with clues or a list of things to find and let them loose online, (i.e. find out what 5 customers have said about your organization).  You’d be amazed at what people come up with.
  • Use Google/Twitter #hashtags ( and ask participants to share their links in a social bookmarking service (use:, they’ll create a living archive of your business presence on the web. Cost to produce/host $0.

Large Company
The large company is spread out across the province, nation or globe and hires possibly hundreds of new employees, using local or regional offices to hold formal orientation days. It may host annual “conferences” where new employees across the organization can connect.   An example of Sun Microsystems orientation can be found here:  Other opportunities provided by the Web 2.0?

Why are more companies not already using the web 2.0 to such benefit with their new employee orientation programs? Perhaps it is because when faced with a multitude of options as the web 2.0 certainly presents, uncertainty and caution trump jumping in.  All of the above have been proven in the field and the links await.

Holly MacDonald is a learning strategist and performance consultant with over 15 years in the learning and organization development field.  She has a passion for helping organizations develop their talent in the most effective and efficient way, using 21st century technology to maximize the investment.  Holly is also a featured blogger on eLearning Learning, a community collecting and organizing the best information on the web about eLearning, and is a community steward with the BC HRMA online community.

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