How to make a new hire feel welcome
Starting a new job can be lonely and unnerving. Walking into the office for your first day without a clue where to go or who to ask for help is particularly tough for graduates entering their first real job. Startups are generally known for their steep learning curves and new hires are expected to grasp the basics super-fast: everyone else probably has a million and one things to do and teaching new staff won’t always be top of the priority list. This is understandable, but taking the time to ensure that a new hire settles in smoothly will pay off in the long run. They will be more likely to have a positive first impression of the company as they feel welcomed, as opposed to feeling like an outsider.
31% of people have left a job within the first 6 months, and 43% of those are entry-level positions. This shows the importance of setting a new hire up properly and laying the groundwork for later success. Set aside some time to go through everything they might need to know thoroughly and use these tips to make the onboarding process easy and create a lasting impact.
1. Get everyone involved
If you are the CEO and you have to-do lists coming out of your ears, then the sensible thing to do is make the whole team part of the intro party. This will kill two birds with one stone as you can get some help and your new hire gets to meet the rest of the office sooner rather than later.
One way to ensure the rest of your company is invested in making the newbie feel welcome is by installing a buddy system. Assign someone to act as a mentor to the new employee and ensure it is clear that they are there to answer any queries (no matter how small). If your new hire is working across departments, then you might want to assign multiple people.
2. Be ready for them to arrive
There is nothing worse than turning up on day one and feeling as though your manager forgot you were coming. Clear a space in your schedule to meet your new employee when they turn up and show them how enthusiastic you are that they are starting. Even if this is just five minutes it will tell them that they are valued and that what you said during the interview wasn’t just talk.
Get their workspace ready and waiting for them to arrive. Adding small details like an office notebook and pen, a company mug, or welcome note will make all the difference. Make sure everything works ahead of time – you don’t want to make them think they broke their computer on their first day.
3. Create a unique and unusual new hire tradition
This could be as simple as taking them to the liveliest bar in your area after their first week. Or you could go really out there and brainstorm ideas with your team to do something with true personality. Lever always welcome every new hire with a team GIF celebrating the new employee and showcasing genuine excitement that gets sent to them before their first day. Mailchimp has a scavenger hunt as part of their on-boarding process that includes a few weird tasks (selfie with an alien butt anyone?) and gets the newbie fully acquainted with every corner of the office. Figure out your own way to reflect your company culture and get something in place for every new hire.
4. Make sure they aren’t having lunch alone
Everyone remembers being the new kid. It’s awkward and slightly intimidating. Someone’s first day is the perfect time to organise a team lunch and show off the best of the local delights (if it’s not that delightful there is always takeaway pizza). Some managers prefer to make sure they take their newbie to lunch to catch up on how their day/week has gone so far, which speaks volumes about how invested you are in their wellbeing. At the very least their mentor should invite them to sit with the rest of the group (but this probably goes without saying).
5. Give them things to do
Keeping a new hire busy is key to stop them from feeling bored and start thinking that the job has many opportunities for development. They want to prove how useful they can be, so why not let them? Make sure your new employee has a few different tasks to do throughout the day, ensuring that they can finish each day feeling productive and accomplished rather than like a bit of a spare tyre. Make it all manageable, but enough that they will be using their brain and contributing right away.
6. Ask for feedback
The only way that your onboarding process can improve is by asking for feedback. Leave your new employee to settle in comfortably and schedule a catch-up after 30 days. Regular performance reviews are essential for all employees, as it gives everyone a chance to find out whether anything needs to change (that includes the boss). For new hires, this is extra important as it is the perfect opportunity to go over anything they are still getting stuck on and finding out whether you have successfully welcomed them over the course of the first month.
Figuring out what could have been done better in your employee's first few days will be vital for your next hire – don’t overlook the value of finding out how it all went from their point of view. Even if you think it all went well, there may have been small ways you can improve.
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*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.