How important is new employee orientation?

Disney University exterior view
Yesterday, lunch meeting at Disney University.


Q. How important is it to conduct new employee orientation as the very first day (no exceptions) of work for newly hired employees?

A. If an organization doesn’t immediately set context for everything else that will happen in an employee’s career, what is at risk?

Seriously, let that sink in for a minute…

  • New people filling in the blanks by guessing
  • Making assumptions about priorities and focus
  • Questioning why their questions aren’t anticipated, and answered without having to ask
  • Feeling like the slick marketing doesn’t live up to the real thing
  • Setting the tone that winging it is acceptable
  • And on and on

Disney over-focuses on this question and insists that every new employee (Cast Member) attends Disney Traditions, every new employee’s first day of work.

The day is spent building an emotional connection to the Disney company culture that by the end of that first day, it’s something everyone wants to defend.

When done with excellence, that feeling should last a lifetime.




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Company orientation programs labeled Bore-ientation?

Chalk art at Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion
Orientation should trigger front line desire for discretionary effort


The first day of a new employee’s work is typically orientation. Often called bore-ientation.

Why make orientation unforgettable, over-the-top amazing?

Because if we can’t deliver it to them on day one, when will we?

We are setting the standard for all the rest of their days with our organization.


And most of us are clueless.

Which is why most employees won’t do any more than you pay them to.

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One big goal of great company orientation programs is…

Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom
Culture is an organization’s greatest asset


The goal of great company orientation programs is to have the instructor tell emotional stories about how cool the culture is. Know why?

Given the choice between working in a cool, exciting culture, and one that isn’t, which would you pick?

Personal, emotional, real stories from someone who was in the operation yesterday and is going back tomorrow, well, it’s as authentic as it gets. 

At the end of the day, we want new employees to have an emotional attachment and a pride – one that they will defend throughout their entire career. 

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