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Learning how to hire like a pro is both exciting and scary — so is starting a new job. The first few days at a new workplace can be overwhelming, filled with paperwork, new company policies, and meet and greets.

Most companies have orientations in place, but frankly, most of them aren’t very exciting. Make your orientation more innovative by implementing team building activities that are better than awkward ice breakers and these nine edgy orientation ideas: 

1. Instead of sending an email... send a welcome note.

A handwritten note is a thing most of us don’t even get for birthdays anymore. Give your new employee a blast from the past and show some consideration by ditching an email and having a team member write a personal note welcoming them to the office.

Showing your new hire how excited the team is to have them aboard is a great start to a new job. Want to include the whole team? Get a card and have everyone sign with a personal message.

2. Instead of having a team lunch… have co-workers go out to eat with the new hires in small groups

Team lunches can be overwhelming and it’s hard for someone new to connect with everyone at once. Set your new employee up for success by setting up smaller group lunches during their first week. This way, they’ll never have to eat alone in their first few days and they’ll get to have more intimate conversations and connections with their new co-workers.

Plus, going out for a meal guarantees they’ll get to try a few different places for lunch and get to know the local spots.

3. Instead of giving a tour of the office… hold an office-wide scavenger hunt

Office tours can be pretty boring. Yes, it’s important to know where the copy machine and coffee maker and marketing department is. 

Game-ify the experience by turning a tour into a scavenger hunt. Identify key locations new employees will need to know and plant cleverly written clues in each that will lead them to the next spot.

Or get more interactive and have new hires perform a task to earn a clue or introduce themselves to other coworkers in those spaces who will deliver to the clues. Bonus: this doubles as a meet and greet. 

Remember, everyone loves a prize, so having something small at the end (like a gift card to the local coffee shop) is a great reward for finishing the hunt.

4. Instead of showing them their personal workspace… welcome them with a treat at their desk

Remember the feeling of receiving an Easter basket or birthday gift at the end of the bed upon waking up? Recreate that feeling by putting a treat on a new employee's desk.

Some ideas: a basket filled with office essentials like a company sweatshirt, snacks, tea bags, hand lotion, fun post-its, notebooks, pens, and a mug. Like most gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts. Whatever you add in will show you’re excited they are on board.

5. Instead of hoping that new employees meet everyone on the team their first day… put new employees’ photos on the wall.

In offices that have more than just a few employees, it’s hard to meet everyone on day one. Putting a photo of a new employee of the wall with a caption such as “Have you met Cary? Make sure you say hi on her first day in her new role as Marketing Coordinator!”

Make sure not to choose an embarrassing photo. There’s nothing worse than being embarrassed on your first day of work, and you don’t want to scare a new employee away. Ensure your new hire that everyone who is new gets their picture put up so they don’t feel singled out.

6. Instead of asking for questions… have an anonymous question box.

Your new employee will be oversaturated with information and when you ask if they have any questions, their minds might go blank.

Create an anonymous question box for when questions do come up and answer them at all-hands weekly meetings so everyone can hear the answer and no one feels silly asking.

7. Instead of putting new employees directly on the job… have them shadow a current employee.

Coming in on the first day and going right to work can be intimidating. Let your new hire shadow someone on their team so they can learn the ropes before diving in. Choose someone you trust that will make a new person feel welcome and teach best practices. Your new hire will make a fast friend and learn on the job.

8. Instead of beers… play ball.

Lots of co-workers go out together for drinks. And while winding down with a cocktail at the end of the day is fun, there are other fun ways to bond with a team. 

Head to the park and play a game of kickball or volleyball so your new employee can meet the team without having to sit and make conversation during a long happy hour.

If your company has some favorite team building games you can pull those out, but keeping it casual with sports will make your new hire feel at ease. Make it even more of a treat by going after lunch for “recess” instead of after work.

9. Instead of making the orientation about the company… make it about the employee.

Your new hire already knows why your company is great — that’s why they're working for you! Instead of focusing only on the history of the company, company policies, and best practices, focus on the employee and how they will best fit into the company and its culture. 

Get to know them and personalize their experience. If you know your employee is athletic, introduce them to the head of the company kickball team. If you learn they are a vegetarian, show them the best things in the cafeteria without meat. If you know they work in marketing but are also interesting in working in sales, swing by that department and let them meet the sales department.

Orientation is a huge part of employee retention. Making someone feel excited and comfortable on day one has lasting effects. 

Showing you care about them as a person instead of just filling their head with company knowledge that isn’t always relevant will show you’re invested in their experience, which leads to an invested employee.

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