First impressions count for a lot, and we only get one shot at it. Have you ever begun a new job, only to find that your workspace wasn’t properly prepared for you, IT hadn’t organised your logins and no one had been officially assigned to greet you? Beginning a new job can be an incredibly isolating and nerve-wracking experience, and even more so if it feels like no one is expecting you. Helping a new employee to feel welcome and part of company culture can make all the difference and be instrumental in encouraging them to deliver their best from day one.
While ultimate responsibility for bringing onboard new hires lies with HR generally, there’s no reason why ownership of this event can’t be spread among the collective. There’s an important role that existing employees can play in helping new hires to feel welcome in their new work environment. Encouraging old and new members of staff to bond can also be critical in fostering a happy and healthy workforce, where there is greater likelihood individuals will want to stay in their roles for quite some time.
If you’re looking for some inspiration in thoughtful and creative ways to welcome new members of staff, and get the whole team involved, here are our top 10 suggestions…
1. Introduce new hires on a Friday
A hectic Monday morning is generally not the best time to take employees away from their desk to welcome a new employee. Their mind will be on other things, namely the week ahead, and they could find the request to support a new starter an annoying interruption to their productivity. Instead, make it company policy to bring in new hires on a Friday, when everyone is a little more relaxed and looking forward to the weekend. Furthermore, it makes the prospect of beginning a new job a little less daunting for the individual in question, as they will know that they only have one day to get through before they can take a couple of days out to process their new role and environment.
2. Put together an awesome welcome kit
When new employees start at Jack Dorsey’s (founder of Twitter) payments company, Square, they receive a welcome kit, all neatly packaged within a sleek black box. Inside there’s a booklet explaining the company’s core set of principles, entitled “The Four Corners of Square”, along with a credit-card swiper, a beautiful Field Notes notepad and a copy of Dorsey’s favourite book, The Checklist Manifesto.
Photo credit: Andrew Borovsky
At A/B testing platform Commerce Sciences, the last employee to join the team is responsible for creating a starter kit for the next new hire. Employees can fill these kits with whatever they want: there are no rules and no limits on their creativity. The kits have included everything from books to coffee to nerf gun darts.
Whatever approach you decide to take, focus on making the new kits thoughtful and useful, showcasing the culture of the company. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to receive an unexpected gift! My perfect welcome kit would easily contain some beautiful new stationery.
2. Write a ‘welcome onboard’ card
In this digital age, there’s something quite nice about receiving a handwritten card or note, signed by colleagues. It conveys more thought and care than a scripted welcome email. You could even open it up as a fun competition within the office to design a company welcome card, which will be professionally printed, with a free lunch or bottle of champagne for the winning entry.
4. Organise a welcome breakfast or lunch
Just as you would organise a nice lunch for a new client, make that same effort with a new starter and get the entire team involved. A welcome breakfast particularly can be a fun way for everyone to meet, and the offer of treats will be appreciated by everyone. Place a one hour time limit on it so that no one feels they are sacrificing too much time, and likewise, anything longer might end up being a bit overwhelming for the new employee.
5. Prepare logins
Personal experience has taught me that rarely is IT involved in the new starter process. I can recall several new roles where I spent the first couple of days unable to login to my computer, email, voicemail, the intranet etc. For a new joiner raring to go and wanting to make an impact straight away, there’s nothing more frustrating. To prevent this happening, give IT advance notice of when the new hire is beginning, and make sure their IT set-up is scheduled for the day beforehand, so that everything is ready and in place for them.
6. A clean desk
Having a well-prepared workspace can make so much difference to a new employee, and particularly if they’re a germ phobe! There is much research to show how germ-laden keyboards and mice can be, and they can provide a fertile breeding ground for some nasty bacteria. There are more germs on the average keyboard than a toilet seat, which isn’t very enticing to a new member of staff. Help them get off to a fresh start with a clean desk and a new keyboard and mouse, and empty, crumb-free drawers!
7. Product samples
Depending upon the nature of your business, if it’s relevant, make sure new employees have product samples ready to try or use from their first day. Whether you’re a chocolate manufacturer or a software engineer, it’s crucial you have thought ahead and organised product samples for them, to help them get their teeth into the business and their new role.
8. Put together a helpful information pack
In any hotel room, there is generally a helpful pack of information containing useful phone numbers through to local restaurant recommendations, information on attractions worth visiting and details of fire escape routes, etc. Something similar should be prepared by companies for their new starters, including maybe an organisation chart with photos of notable individuals, an office map, a list of local amenities, recommended lunch spots etc. A new hire training plan could also be included within this to demonstrate how you’ve considered beyond their first day.
9. Immerse new starters into their new role immediately
Make sure that your welcome schedule fills only part of the day so that the new employee can feel productive immediately. Prepare a work plan for them, for the first couple of weeks, to provide direction on how they can get stuck into their role. Too often new employees are left feeling a little aimless to begin with, which can lead to feelings of insecurity. By directing them carefully in their initial tasks, this will give them plenty of opportunity to prove themselves, and for others to offer encouragement and praise.
10. Assign a mentor or buddy
Joining a new company can be quite a lonely process to begin with. It can really help to assign a buddy or mentor to help with this process. There’s a lot of information to process with a new role and buddies can be there to answer questions, give the new starter tips and tricks for the job and provide friendly support. This will help the individual to settle into company culture more quickly, and feel more connected to the team.
Does your company have a creative way of welcoming new individuals on board? If you have something to add to our top 10 list, we’d love to hear below…