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Moving Employee Orientations Online--Duke's Site

August 20, 2000
Related Topics: Intranets/Extranets, Benefit Design and Communication, Policies and Procedures, Featured Article
Workforce members have asked if we have any examples of companies that have moved parts of their orientation programs to the Internet. One example to take a look at is Duke University. Here's a quick look at what they've done:


Duke's orientation site is just one component of its HR Web site, which includes policies, benefits information, job listings, a resume builder, and more.

The orientation section took about four months, and was completed this spring.

"Our goal is to offer an orientation tool to new staff coming to Duke University, as well as to help managers orient their new staff to Duke," says Nancy Denenberg, special projects manager, Duke Learning & Organization Development. "We want to highlight the tangible and intangible benefits for working at Duke, as well as introduce them to the Duke culture.

"This is just one tool in the entire Duke Orientation process. All new campus employees hired by Duke (and their managers) are encouraged to use this Web site" says Denenberg.

About the site:

Some of what new employees find on the Duke site:

  • Benefits info. Duke offers a wide variety of downloadable documents for employees to make plan decisions, and see how life events will effect their coverage. There are additional links to forms, calculators and other information.

  • An employee orientation checklist. This lists everything employees will learn during their orientation, and includes a space for them to mark "completed."

  • Safety policies and procedures. Includes a training checklist, as well as additional links to injury-reporting information and more.

Some of what managers find on the Duke site:

  • Sample letters and checklists. These letters include sample templates for supervisors to write to their employees, for 'buddies' to write to their employees, manager's checklists and more. "Most of our templates and letters originated from various operational manager's practical experience in orienting new employees," says Denenberg.


It's a bit early to tell how many people are using the site, but the anecdotal evidence is positive.

"We have received positive feedback on the Web site so far from new hires, managers, and senior leaders at Duke," says Denenberg.

Denenberg says they're in the process of revamping their orientation process for managers, and the Web site will be a key component.

"We are constantly updating and improving the information within the site to fit the changing needs of this organization."

Denenberg says, "We are still in the process of working out the kinks. Again, as Duke changes we are continuously trying to adapt the site. Short term we need to make the site searchable. Another of our goals is to launch a similar site for Duke Health System.

"Long term, we would love to make it more interactive with quizzes, etc. Make it more fun. Multimedia such as video, and employee interviews, etc, can be incorporated as we progress."

The Duke team has high hopes for the rest of their HR site, too. "We'd eventually like to put everything online," says Nancy Sutter, Duke's director of HRIS. "You'll be able to apply for jobs, do career development, training, manager's toolkits...It will all be linked together on one site."

Duke's department letter, new-employee announcement, as well as the buddy letter, "buddy requirements" and "buddy selection criteria" that are in the buddy program suggestions and manager/supervisor checklist are all adapted from and used with permission from Jean Barbazette, Successful New Employee Orientation published by Pfeiffer & Associates, Copyright Jean Barbazette, 1994,

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