I once started a new job, on a Friday, at 2:30 p.m. Mind you, this was a typical Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job. There was no explanation given on the somewhat odd start day and time. When I showed up, no one seemed to remember I was coming in. My desk was dusty, did not have any supplies and there was no plan for an orientation. I was walked around the building for about an hour and told that I could leave.
That should have set off red flags about the type of employer and the value that was placed on employees, especially during the on-boarding phase. True to that first impression, the company had a do as I say, not as I do approach that resonated from the top levels down to the front line. It is no surprise that turnover was extremely high and departments did not work well together.
Here are five tips to create a great first impression for any new hires.
1. Schedule the person to start two hours after you plan to arrive: This will give you time to get settled and put out any fires so you can devote your time and attention to the new employee when he or she arrives.
2. Provide a new hire FAQ, before the first day: Be sure to cover if you will be providing lunch or if lunch should be brought, dress code, parking and smoking policies. Nothing makes people feel more uncomfortable than if they do not fit in on the first day, simply because they didn’t know.
3. Ensure a welcoming environment: Alert the receptionist that a new hire is arriving or be visible when he or she is due to arrive. Make sure a work space is cleaned and stocked with standard supplies. Post a welcome sign, including his or her name. Introduce the person to the team. And be sure to point out things like the coat rack, closest restroom, employee break room, copy machines, etc. Also, plan ahead so an email address is setup and any other necessary logins and passwords are ready.
4. Have downtime activities planned: In most environments, new hires will need direction and guidance for most of their tasks. Have other things planned for the employee to do when he or she gets “stuck” and you are not immediately available to provide guidance. This may include industry publications to become familiar with, training manuals, websites to review and depending on the role, it may even be appropriate to include filing or other non-urgent but important tasks.
5. Consider asking for their help: If employee onboarding has not been a focus in the past, consider asking the employee to help in documenting procedures, checklists and manuals for future new hires. Use a fresh eyes approach to help you prepare for the future.
Showing all your new hires that they are valued and appreciated from their very first day will create the right environment for them to be a trusted ally for you and the company as a whole.