Starting a new job is overwhelming to say the least. In your own experience, you may recall facing a whirlwind of paperwork, instructions, and introductions to new faces. A new hire’s first day of work sets the tone for their entire tenure with a company. Notably, those who report a positive onboarding experience have higher rates of employee retention, productivity, and engagement throughout their employee lifecycle. This means early impressions matter a lot, and having a solid onboarding strategy will pay dividends. Here are some tried and true ways to welcome a new employee and get excited about their new role from day one.

Designate a welcome team

Walking into a room full of unfamiliar faces can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Creating a welcome team as an internal initiative can make the process of diving into a new environment much easier for recent hires. Concerning team responsibilities, small gestures can go a long way. Make sure someone is ready to greet the new employee at the door, lead them to their desk space, and give a tour of the office. It’s also important to have their workstation established in advanced and fully stocked with the tools they’ll need to do their work. Throughout the day, the team should remain proactive in helping the new hire adjust to office life, perhaps striking up conversations or answering questions to help them feel as comfortable and welcome as possible.

Let everyone know they are coming

You should publicize a new hire’s arrival within the company on their first day. Whether it be over your company’s messaging platform, the PA system, or email, a company-wide announcement will guarantee that everyone gets the memo. A welcome message doesn’t need to be complicated– a simple statement including their name, role, department, and perhaps a fun fact or two is plenty of information for company members to spark a conversation with their newest co-worker.

Create a visual reminder

While verbal or written announcements can help build awareness of a new employee’s presence, a single visual reminder is worth a thousand words. The recent trend of tying balloons to a new employee’s desk or chair is a powerful way to make them feel welcome and special, but also easily identifiable to coworkers who are eager to greet them. The gesture is the perfect way to send the message that the arrival of each new employee to a company is something to celebrate.

Less paperwork, more on-the-job training

Ideally, onboarding paperwork should be emailed to new employees and completed before their first day. Companies today are leveraging technology to offer onboarding portals, welcome emails, and engaging video tours to new employees before they even set foot in the office. These virtual tools have become a powerful way to give employees a taste of the company’s values, culture, and history.

By taking care of the administrative details beforehand, new employees can spend their time in the office engaged in more valuable activities, like training and face-time with coworkers. Simple tasks, setting up email accounts or using Slack, can require more instruction than a seasoned user might realize.

Depending on the size of the company, the new hire’s direct manager might be responsible for showing the new employee how to master the various tools and technologies their job requires. Otherwise, you should assign a veteran employee within the company as a mentor for the new hire. As a point-person, mentors can also be helpful for advising on things to do in the area or tips on how to commute between places, which are invaluable to employees who have recently relocated for the job.

Take them out to lunch

Lunch is an excellent time for managers to get to know new employees and gain a sense of what motivates them, what their goals are, and how to help them best succeed in their new role. On the flip side, new employees will also benefit from the valuable one-on-one time during which they can draw inspiration from their manager’s career path, history, experiences, and wisdom. Besides, lunch can be a great space to help fill in gaps in a new hire’s knowledge. This might include crucial insight into team dynamics, workplace culture, or new company developments. No matter what the topic of conversation is, going out to lunch with a new employee will get the ball rolling on building rapport that will spark employee engagement and productivity in the long run.

Provide a first-day agenda

Faced with a bunch of new tasks, a to-do list or agenda can help guide new employees through the storm. Listing essential agenda items, organized by category (administrative, training, meetings, personal, etc.) can help the new employee know what to focus on despite having many tasks vying for their attention at once. A more detailed first-day schedule might include chunks of time devoted to the activities outlined above, including a lunch break with the manager or time spent for introductions around the office.

Welcome a new employee with a little gift

Employee welcome packages, also known as “onboarding kits,” are a game-changer for onboarding efforts. These kits often include some company-branded gear, like t-shirts and mugs, a handwritten-note, various gadgets, and other office essentials. These welcome gifts guarantee that employees feel appreciated from the moment they sit at their new desk.

What’s more, welcome gifts can be practical for building a company’s internal brand. Based on the ethos of the kit, employees will gain insight into the company’s overarching culture and core values. Whether the company is sleek and refined, quirky and eccentric, or artsy and creative, a welcome gift is a perfect canvas for a company to show off its personality to newcomers. The collection of different items, guides, and tools represent what the company is all about. This isn’t to mention the benefits to employee engagement that come with receiving a gift. The relatively small gesture of providing a welcome kit can boost an employees enthusiasm and excitement for joining the team and lays the foundations for them to become champions of company culture over time.

Final Thoughts

The purpose of the onboarding period is not just bringing new employees onboard the company administratively, but helping them get on board with the company’s values and goals. The right mix of welcome activities, mentorship, and recognition can be enough to set employees on a path to becoming the next great advocate for your company’s culture and mission. All employees deserve a chance at a work-life that is personally and professionally fulfilling, and companies can achieve this through the impression they make on their people beginning on day one.

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