Surviving HR: Employee Orientation Part 1

(Disclaimer: I am by no means a Human Resources expert or certified to give you legal advice. My purpose is to offer some advice on what I have learned (the hard way) to help point you in the right direction to make the right HR decisions).

You have hired your new employee and it’s their first day.  Hopefully they show up….it’s surprising to me how many people in the last year I have had just not show up for their first day! While it is tempting to throw them in and fill in the gaps later, you are busy and short staffed and just need a body right away, but this is a sure fire recipe for disaster.  No one enjoys the first day at a new job, its like the first day of High School all over again.  You don’t know what you are supposed to be doing, where you are supposed to go, who to ask questions to, and where to sit for lunch.  A solid orientation for new hires not only leads to a warm welcoming for them but also sets the tone of your companies mission and vision.  By showing them early what the culture is like and ensuring it’s a fit for both of you, you may save a lot of money training someone who is just not right for your company.

New Hire Paperwork:
It’s tempting to send a new hire home with their paperwork and get it from them a few days later, however there are issues with doing so, and even laws against it.  It is best to just sit down with your new hire for 15 minutes on their first day and get it out of the way.

There are a few required forms for all new hires, as well as some that I recommend.  My company subcontracts our our payroll services, which I highly recommend if it is in your company’s budget, (try Not only do they file the employee’s information to the necessary government agencies, they also handle your quarterly payroll tax fillings, write your paychecks, and a few other things that no one without a background in HR and/or accounting should be doing.

Required forms include a W-4 and I-9 for every person you hire.  While the W-4 is not technically required for some reason, you really should not skip this form.  The I-9 is required and has some very strict guidelines and deadlines.  Did you know you actually have only three business days to collect and verify eligibility to work in the US?  I didn’t! Did you know you have to keep all of your I-9’s for current employees in one folder, not separately in their personnel file? I didn’t know that either! And in case you are wondering (I actually just looked this up as I was wondering) how long you have to keep employees paperwork, it’s three years after hiring them or one year after they are terminated, whichever is later.  While I have not had any issues I do wish I knew more about HR when I started. If you plan to take on HR for your company, I highly recommend taking a course. There are tons online as well as day-long seminars in most bigger cities (try

Here is a list of the other forms that I recommend having in your new hire paperwork:
-In-case-of-emergency – While there are things you are not legally allowed to ask employees, having a basic information sheet telling you who to contact in case of an emergency is smart.  I do have a line on mine where an employee can add any information they would like us to know.  It is optional and as far as I can tell legal to out on the form.
-Employee handbook – There are tons of online services that offer templates to make employee manuals (try as well as companies who offer HR services that include creating custom manuals (try  There are also many options in most cities if you are looking for in person guidance.
-Direct deposit forms – My company outsources our payroll services and they offer direct deposit as well as actual checks to be sent.  They charge us around $5 per check, so we prefer direct deposit! However, you can’t make it a requirement legally.

So now that the fun part is over (sarcasm), let’s continue this topic in the next blog and talk about how to project your company’s culture on a new hires first day.

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