Sadly, when you ask people to recount their first few days at a new job, you commonly hear stories like these;
- “They put me in a workspace but hadn’t cleaned out the previous employee’s stuff, I spent my first week going through their old files/papers.”
- “I didn’t have a computer for the first two weeks.”
- “No one showed me how to use the phone.”‘
- “I never got a tour.”
- “They didn’t seem to be expecting me.”
You can easily see how these kinds of experiences can quickly zap the energy and enthusiasm out of a new hire. So, the message here is “be prepared.” There’s nothing magical about it. Like many things, it only takes some intention and discipline. At the end of this section, you’ll find an easy checklist to use with the new hire to get you started. It contains all of the “little things” (which, incidentally, aren’t so little to a new hire) that can be easily forgotten and that can ease apprehension for a new hire in those first few days and weeks. It contains items you should consider before the new hire starts as well as conversations and meetings you should be having on their first day and week. Additionally, it serves as a good reminder that you need to be constantly checking in with the new employee several times throughout their first few months. These don’t need to be lengthy meetings, but rather, a time for you to check their temperature, see if they have hit any roadblocks, and make sure they are still happy and committed to working with you.
Outside of training new hires on job-specific tasks and responsibilities, you may want to consider providing them with opportunities that allow for “cultural integration.”
By this we simply mean rather than focusing just on the job, how can we get the new hire to feel like part of our team and family as soon as possible? This is often overlooked which is unfortunate because this is where loyalty is built and long-term employee-employer relationships develop. It is not just important, it is critical. It is what makes an individual come to work feeling like they are with you for more than just earning a paycheck; it’s more than a job, it’s a career and an extension of their family.
Many managers just hope this naturally happens to the new hire over time. And you know what? Sometimes it does. But, if you can jump-start this feeling right when they start with you, you are well on your way to creating a relationship with the new hire that is not just positive and productive, but one in which they would go above and beyond for you and your company Wouldn’t you rather have that sooner than later?
Welcome Packet. You send a pre-mailer to your customers to “warm them up,” so why not do something similar for a new hire? Nobody else does this. It will set you apart as an employer who is different and better, who is prepared and anxious for the new hire to start, and who is on the ball (a message that we hope your new hire will Subliminally adopt about the way you do things.) This doesn’t need to be complicated. Decide what you want to put in it and assemble (to the extent you can) several Welcome Packets ahead of time. Then you just need to pull one out of the drawer, customize it a bit, and throw it in the mail.
Your Welcome Packet may include:
- A welcome letter from the owner
- An overview sheet reminding them of their start date and time, what to wear, where to park, their supervisor’s name and number, and the new hire’s email address and phone number
- New hire paperwork so they can get it filled out ahead of time and spend their first day on more engaging activities.
- A copy of your internal newsletter
- A nice sheet that has your company mission statement and values statements.
- If you have hats, pens, padfolios, koozies, t-shirts, etc, with your logo on them, grab one of each and place them nicely in their workspace. Nothing makes you feel more “official” than wearing and toting around logoed gear. It says, “Hey, I’m part of this team!”
Take the new hire to lunch on their first day, and consider inviting some other key co-workers. Do you remember back in grade school when you weren’t sure if some tables in the lunchroom were unofficially designated for certain groups of people?
Unfortunately, that is how many new hires will view lunch on their first day of employment. Do I bring my lunch? Is that uncool? Where do I store it? Who do I sit with? Take the anxiety out of that moment by letting the new hire know ahead of time that you’ll be taking them to lunch on their first day
Pair or “buddy” them up with a co-worker. Ask a superstar employee in your department to help you in making the new hire feel welcome. Ask the buddy to check in on the new hire occasionally. Invite the buddy to lunch. It creates another connection in the company other than the manager and provides a “friend” for the new hire to ask questions. Just make sure the buddy is a superstar!!
Schedule a meeting with the owner for 20 minutes. Every owner can spare 20 minutes with the new hire – it’s an important investment. And, every new hire wants to meet with the owner. It helps them to feel welcomed, important, and that an owner is just a regular person. The casual meeting could be the owner explaining how the business got started, how the company has grown, what the culture is like, how important customer service is, and how excited the owner is to have the new hire on board.
Invite the new hire’s family in for a tour or send home swag for the family… or send a welcome letter to the family letting them know how excited you are to have “Joe” on board. Let’s face it, most of us spend more time at work than we do at home with our families, so any time you can involve the family and help them understand what you do and what you’re a nice company to work for, it makes it SO much easier down the road when you ask your new employee to put in extra hours or if they hit a bit of a rough patch at work. You will have built an automatic cheerleading team on your behalf at their home.
Are you making an intentional effort to start your new hire off on the right foot, or are you hoping they can just “figure it out”?
New hires want to feel like they are contributing to the team as quickly as possible. Are there small tasks you can give them to make them feel productive in their first week?
Don’t forget about the power of cultural integration, or making them feel like part of the “team.” What new orientation ideas will you try?