An employee’s first day can be overwhelming—a new workplace, new co-workers, and a whole lot of information to digest in a short amount of time.
It’s reported that the majority of new employees hold early impressions of a company with them throughout their career, making it even more important to awe them with a positive onboarding experience.
As the employee manager, streamlining the training process (even the first day) can take time and practice to perfect. It’s your duty to help new workers settle in, make them feel comfortable, and to get them accustomed to their new role in your business.
There are many simple ways you can set the tone for a new hire to feel welcome, confident, and motivated to get to work so they can begin effectively contributing to the business or organization.
1. Send a preparation email
Before the employee arrives on the first day, send them an email with information about their first day on the job. Include anything they will need to know before coming to work.
This may include:
- Where to park or nearby transit centers/routes
- Lunch hours, and whether there are restaurants in the area, or a cafeteria on location
- Break times
- Dress code
- What they need to bring with them
- If there is any special equipment (computer programs, office supplies etc.) they may require
- A brief agenda of what to expect on the first day, such as paperwork, tour, and other onboarding procedures you have in mind.
This email will give them time to prepare for their first day so that they aren’t surprised to find no on-site cafeteria available or they wear the wrong shoes for the occasion.
2. Give them a warm welcome
There are a few special ways to nail the first impression. This can include greeting a newbie at the door, or simply showing enthusiasm for their arrival by mentioning how thrilled you are to have them on the team. A friendly and positive attitude will calm their nerves, let them know that you are here to help, and that you are available to answer any questions they may have.
Explain the work culture norms, and give them the basic tour, including washrooms, cafeteria, copy machine area, common room, and other important spots they will need to know to get through the day.
Start with basics, and offer social and professional tips to help them adjust successfully.
3. Cover basics first, and details later
Information overload is a natural result of first days because there is a large amount of material to cover.
There are a few ways to alleviate this:
- Speak slowly and explain concepts clearly
- Ask them if they have questions
- Allow time for them to take notes
- Provide all information in written form, or tell the employee where they can access it.
Reassure the employee that company policies and information can be accessed again if needed. Sometime employees are so nervous that they may easily miss a point. Speaking slowly and clearly can help them stay focused and retain information.
The first day is meant to provide them with the basics, including the main contacts at the company, as well as an overview of their responsibilities. You want them to feel welcome first and foremost, and in the following weeks, delve into more detail.
4. Assign a buddy
If you have gone over the formalities and introduced them to other employees, you may want to consider allowing them to shadow someone for the rest of the day. Preferably someone in their department, or who they will be working with in close proximity. It may even be yourself, depending on the size of the business, and the position they are filling.
If it’s not you, choose someone who is kind and patient, or someone who volunteers to be the mentor. Anyone who willingly takes on this role will be more effective than those who were assigned it. The buddy system can work wonders for new employees, and even give them a sense of comradery on their first day.
Learning from a colleague may even be more effective. Those who share similar duties or connect in a peer-to-peer relationship are shown to be more encouraging during those first few days.
Another method may be to allow the new hire to spend time with another employee who has been around for a few months. This person will be the most familiar and empathetic with “the rookie” feeling, and will more likely be able to offer advice than those who have been around for a while because they have just been through the process themselves.
5. Check in during the day
After leaving the employee on their own, or with a buddy for the remainder of the day, follow up with them to see how their day is going. Ask if they have any questions they thought of, or even if they have any feedback to share. Other questions include:
- Do you have everything you need?
- Have you taken a break?
- Is there anything I can do to make tomorrow go better?
This may also be the time to offer them a small gift or token, like a “welcome aboard” greeting card signed by everyone, or a name plate for their door. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, but it can reinforce a sense of belonging after the initial nerves wear off.
Go the extra mile to make their first day memorable
Everyone remembers their first day at a new job. It’s a day you don’t easily forget. Think about this when introducing a new employee into the business. Those who feel comfortable at the beginning are more likely to be productive and happy in their role, and the more you can do at the start will only fuel their motivation in the following weeks.
Beyond the first day, keep making an effort to be accommodating and helpful. It takes a while for an employee to find their stride. The impression you make now can have a truly profound impact on their job satisfaction and long term contributions to the company, so be sure to make it count!
What does your business do to make a new employee feel welcome?