10 Tips to Make a Great First Impression When Onboarding New Employees
Congratulations! In today’s competitive labor market, after a harrowing recruitment process, you have succeeded in attracting an ideal candidate to join your team. After such a significant investment of time and resources, ensuring a successful employee onboarding experience is beneficial to both your new employee and your company as a whole. The first 90-days is a vital period for you and your new hire to really determine if this is the right fit and having a structured onboarding and training program provides each new employee with a foundation for success. Having just gone through changing jobs (and potentially with backup offers from other firms), if your new recruit has a negative experience during the “honeymoon period” when starting in his/her new role, they are more likely to jump ship. That leaves you right back at square one, starting the recruitment process all over.
Here are a few simple, but crucial things you can do to ensure you put your best foot forward and make a great first impression with each new employee:
Give a Tour, a Map and an Organizational Chart
Starting a new job can be overwhelming with all the new names, faces, places and not to mention skills, processes and protocols one has to learn. Give your new employees an edge by providing them with tools and visual aids to help lessen the information overload. If you have a larger facility, be sure to give a tour and provide a map (marked up floor plan) and note essentials such as bathrooms, break rooms, emergency exit routes and the location of other staff members with whom they will regularly interact and can go to with questions. Organizational charts can be helpful as well in learning who’s who.
Have Name Tags or Name Plates
In addition to a map/floor plan noting employee names, having name tags and/or name plates throughout your offices helps new people with navigating their new workplace and with initial interactions. By eliminating the possible embarrassment for forgetting names after being introduced to numerous people, you can help your new employee get to know their peers more quickly and feel more at home.
Utilize the Buddy System
Being with a group of strangers can be intimidating at first. Align new employees with a buddy or mentor to make sure someone is tasked with checking in and helping introduce them to help them acclimate to their new environment and get to know their co-workers more quickly. Whether it is the person responsible for training or simply an outgoing member of your team, helping a new employee feel included results in a more positive immersion experience. Studies show that with the amount of time people spend at work, having friends at work and enjoying one’s co-workers is one of the key elements in long-term employee engagement and retention.
Prepare the Paperwork, Training Materials as well as Business Equipment and Office Essentials
Make certain your new hire has everything he/she needs on the first day, even if it may not be utilized right away. Walking into a furnished work space with everything your new employee needs already setup helps provide a nice welcome. Ensuring that your internal staff has advance notice of an incoming employee’s computer access needs and security rights, phone extension setup in addition to having other simple business assets like staplers, tape and pens and notepad at the ready goes a long way in creating a sense that you are excited to have your newest team member and helps your existing staff plan accordingly for their roles in making that happen. For compliance purposes and to get your employee on the right track for that first paycheck, be sure to have all your HR paperwork in order for their first day. Using a system such as Checkmate HCM to automate your new hire process, you can track and schedule setup of business assets in addition to providing your new employee with the ability to establish direct deposit amounts, indicate pre-tax and withholding information, opt-in or out of elected benefits upon eligibility and electronically acknowledge receipt of employee handbooks and other required paperwork as part of their employee record. Be sure to provide printed copies of all training materials including screenshots with instructions for any fundamental software programs and/or business systems for quick reference on daily tasks to aid in your new hire’s learning, provide them with a sense of autonomy and to reduce over reliance upon key employees involved in training new hires.
Review Job Description and Set Expectations
The interview process can be a bit of a whirlwind. Be sure to take some time to ensure that both you and your new hire are still on the same page about what their role entails, their accountability and what success in the role looks like along with any pertinent time lines. Their is nothing more off putting than a bait-and-switch including starting a new role only to find out it is nothing like the original job description and/or that there are significant difference in the mutual understanding of what will be expected of them in their new role and how they contribute to the overall success in achieving company goals and objectives.
Do Something Special
Whether your managers take new employees out to lunch on their first day or you provide a treat like donuts, pastries or chocolates for your existing team to share with their new co-worker at break, small gestures can have a big impact in creating a positive and lasting first impression.
Schedule Training and Team Meet and Greets
Scheduling specific time for your new hire to spend with managers, HR, co-workers and other team members ensures that time and resources are available to the new employee and also allows your key employees involved in the new hires immersion plan accordingly to complete their own workload. Having a chance to spend dedicated time with different groups can also help the newest team member understand his/her relationship to other employees, where to go for needed information or resources and gives them a better opportunity to remember who everyone is by providing a longer period of time with each person beyond an initial introduction. Using a centralized scheduling and time tracking system like Checkmate HCM can help with schedule mishaps if there are any changes due to illness and/or other circumstances and it can also help in making schedule adjustments, letting other employees know where other team members and new hires are if anyone is looking for them in addition to tracking on an ongoing basis how much time existing employees dedicate to new hire training for future planning and/or billing of training hours against another cost center’s budget as needed.
Keep New Employees Occupied, But Not Overwhelmed and Slowly Increase Responsibility and Workload
If you have succeeded (hopefully) in hiring a conscientious employee, he/she will feel guilty about having too much down time even during initial training. It is very like your new employee will be eager to be productive and make contributions in their new role as soon as possible. Make sure your new hire understands work and responsibility In addition to setting up a comprehensive training schedule as noted above, be sure that your new hire also has other resources available such as reading materials, online training modules and/or the necessary items like office supplies or supply catalogs they can use to personalize their work space and setup files, whiteboards, etc. Whether through formal testing or informal assessments by key employees and managers, increase your new hire’s workload and responsibilities in line with their capabilities ensures their success and subsequently the company’s as well. While some people can handle a trial-by-fire type of immersion, generally that is not the case and it can end as a crash and burn for the new hire, existing employees, clients and your corporate brand.
Check In Regularly and Expect Some Mistakes
Whether with a direct manager or member of your HR team, ensure that time is scheduled with both your new hire and those handling his/her training to check in on progress and discuss next steps. Taking the time to touch base with your new employee as well as your existing team on a regular basis ensures that any red flags regarding whether or not the new person is good fit can be openly discussed and addressed in a timely manner. Express to both parties that mistakes are expected and can be a vital part of learning, but also recognize when repeated or careless mistakes might be a sign of ongoing performance issues that can be dealt with before having a significant impact on morale, productivity and/or the bottom line.
Who better to help suggest improvements to your onboarding process than someone who has just gone through it? Asking your new employee for their candid suggestions also shows you value their input and you will benefit from their fresh insights, it encourages their participation in future process and/or program improvements and likely will help make your employee onboarding even better for future new hires.