Eek. The first day of a new job can be daunting. Do you want your new hire to feel vindicated in the awesome decision to join your business? Or would you rather they felt a gut-punch of doubt and regret about accepting your job offer?
Forget the formal onboarding stuff for a moment. Settling your new employee’s stomach and getting them off to the best start possible takes a little humanity and compassion, not a grotty manual on company codes of conduct. Get it right and you will inspire productivity, performance and loyalty from day one.
Here are seven tips.
- A welcome from the head honcho
A classy way to welcome a new employee is to schedule a meeting with the boss on their first day. Explain that you are keen to bend backwards to help them settle in and that you will be scheduling catch up meetings over the first few weeks to check they feel comfortable and understand the goals they have been given to work towards.
- Assign a buddy (even if it’s a secret)
Being the new girl/guy can be pretty lonely. Be sure to assign someone to look out for your new hire. If you’re worried that might seem a little patronising, your new employee doesn’t have to know about it. Just ask one of your more gregarious members of staff to check in on them now and again.
Oh and of course...
- Make the office less like the surface of Saturn
The colleagues, the kitchen, the frustratingly quirky coffee machine. To you, everything about your workplace is familiar. To your nervy new team member, it’s an alien landscape. Take the time to show them around properly, while introducing them to some of their new colleagues.
- Prove a popular idiom wrong...
No such thing as a free lunch? For your new hire there is. Take them out for a bite to eat and get to know them a bit. Keep it light and informal.
- Be prepared
Monday morning is going to be pretty awkward for everyone if your new hire is standing around doing nothing while you try to find them a desk with a computer that works properly. Whether it’s a laptop, a vehicle or access to the company intranet, make sure everything is in place for them to hit the ground running. It’s a respect thing. If you’re not ready for them, you cannot expect them to be ready for you.
- Give them a welcome pack
Lots of new staff feel like a burden when they start a new job. They feel uneasy knowing that they will have to be carried by colleagues during their first few days. You can make things easier with a welcome pack that your new hire can take home. After all, there’s lots to take in and you can’t expect them to remember everything.
Things to include:
- Names, photos and (short) job descriptions of immediate colleagues
- A few words about company culture
- Important phone numbers and network passwords
Things not to include:
- Bureaucratic rules
- Your disciplinary procedure
- An essay on health and safety
- Ease them in nice and gently
If you have hired a superhuman, good on you. If not, you need to accept that your new hire won’t be working at 100% productivity right away. Resist the temptation to give them a bulging to-do list that has to be completed within their first week - no matter how busy you are. A little pressure is good. Too much pressure is corrosive.
- Over to you!
Your new hire’s first days will play a big role in shaping their opinion of your company, your culture and your staff. And very often that opinion can become particularly deep-rooted. Making your new staff feel welcome will give them the confidence they need to get off to the best start possible, helping you to sow the seeds of a positive, prosperous and loyal working relationship from the get go.