It’s like they forgot you started work today or something.
The receptionist had no idea who you were and now you’re waiting in the lobby like a customer for your manager to introduce you as the newest employee to join the team.
Have you ever had that experience? Arriving all fresh and ready to go for your first day at an important new job and … the manager is late to work. He doesn’t know where your desk is. Maybe you don’t even have one. You set yourself up in a corner and wonder what you’re supposed to do first as he rushes off to a meeting.
A bad first experience can ruin a new job for any employee.
As their manager, it is your role to ensure their first impression is a good one. It’s important they settle in well and overcome any initial hurdles of a new workplace and a new environment as quickly as possible in order to begin bringing good value to your team and organization.
How can you be sure you’re giving them what they need?
Below are some best practices to instil into your team culture and processes to ensure any new employees are made to feel welcome and are oriented as quickly as possible.
1. Prepare for their arrival
It seems obvious but often a new employee is forgotten about and unprepared for.
Don’t be caught finalising documents or rushing around looking for a vacant desk when your new employee arrives. Show that you remembered they were starting and ensure they have a desk, phone and any necessary logins set up and ready to go – or at least a time set aside with the appropriate person to get it all ready.
Ensure you arrive earlier than they do and clear your calendar for at least the morning. There is nothing more important than ensuring this new employee is positively welcomed and settled in well to their new role.
2. Create an agenda for their first day
Your new employee’s first day is the most crucial. It’s important that they get acquainted with any key colleagues they will be working alongside to and get an overview of the systems and tools they will be using.
The agenda doesn’t have to be detailed. It could even just be a list of meetings you’ve set up and blocked in their calendar eg: 2 hours with Jan from Accounts, 2 hours with Phil from Sales, etc. Ensure your new starter has a time to have lunch with other team members as well as time to simply familiarise themselves with their computer and systems.
3. Be visible
The most important thing is to be as visible as possible for every new employees in the early days. They will likely have a lot of questions or reach points where they are stuck and not sure where to head with their next task.
Keeping visible gives them a source of information to ensure their workflow continues. More importantly though it communicates that they are important. An employee left struggling to find or communicate to their new boss for the majority of their first week will likely head home feeling unsure about the position and lose morale very quickly.
4. Have them sit with key roles from around the business
Most companies organise new employees to receive training on their particular role from relevant people in the business. However, the employee needs more than just a narrow focus of their own role. They will benefit from seeing how other positions and departments function in order to get a wider perspective of how their role fits into the company as a whole. Arrange some tours around departments that may not typically interact with your own.
5. Highlight important dates
If your company activity centres around time periods – such as fiscal years – or is heavily affected by seasonal events like Christmas, ensure you point these out to the new recruit in their induction. They may need to plan annual leave or personal events around these dates and the more notice you can give them the better.
6. Develop a manual
Every employee should have a manual that outlines important information about their role. These can be collectively built through an intranet for those with similar positions or simply notes jotted down by a secretary on how the daily diary should be managed. Key passwords and usernames are important to include in these documents but make sure they are secure and protected from people who should not see them.
7. Create a resource hub
Even better than a manual is an entire resource hub. Your other employees can contribute to this, from items as small as ‘how to get the photocopier working’ to ‘clients that are easy to deal with… and others that aren’t’. A few hours browsing through this content will help a new recruit much faster than the weeks it would take them to learn such nuances of a new workplace on their own.
8. Discuss expectations
After a few days of getting the ‘lay of the land’ in their new role, your new employee should be aware of some of the activities they will be doing over the first few months in particular and be ready to plan out how they will take responsibility for those activities.
Take them through their own expectations of what they would like to achieve and develop an action plan together for their first 30, 60, and 90 days. Include in this discussion KPIs and review/check-in dates.
9. Organise a team lunch or gathering
It’s unlikely your new recruit will get much time for more than just a friendly hello and cursory chat with a few people in the office during their first week of work. Creating a social event where they’ll have more space to meet people outside their usual sphere of connection and can develop deeper conversations with those they enjoy hanging out with will cement their personal connection to your team and your organization.
Changing the environment from formal to casual opens the way for informal discussion that can deepen friendships. Maybe this call for a Friday lunch or afternoon drinks away from the office?
10. Publicly welcome every new starter
It can mean a lot to a new starter when they see their boss publicly welcoming them – not only internally but also to suppliers and clients. This can be done as simply as by sending an email introducing the new starter to key contacts; a small paragraph and photo being included in a monthly or quarterly newsletter; or even a specific blog post dedicated to welcoming them aboard.
The importance of professionally on-boarding your new employee cannot be underestimated.
You’ve spent a lot of time and money securing them for the position. All of that can go to waste if you reduce their moral or don’t provide them information they need in their first week with you.
On the other hand, a great first week can keep an employee with your company for many years while being productive right from the moment they walk through the door.