Job changes are stressful for new hires, but they’re not simple for HR either. And sometimes during the whirlwind of paperwork, supplies to order, and concern for the happiness of your new employee, we forget to do the little things that make a HUGE difference. To help you help employees fall in love with your organization, we’ve teamed up with HR specialists and put together an agenda of items not to overlook during onboarding during four periods of time: Before the first day, first day, the first week, and the first month to six months.
There’s a reason people make countdowns until vacations or holidays. It’s because those events are exciting! Hopefully, your new hires are thrilled about their new position at your organization. To help them countdown the days, start the new employee onboarding checklist before they start working.
Send a gift.
Mikaela Kiner, executive coach and CEO of uniquelyHR, suggests starting the new employee onboarding schedule as soon as new hires sign the offer letter: “Once your candidate accepts, send a welcome card or gift, even if it’s something small. In the past, Starbucks was known to send coffee and a CD, and Amazon sent “book bombs”—hand-picked books that the candidate was sure to enjoy.”
A small gift or note helps you build your employer brand. New hires are still developing their expectations of your organization, and letting them know you’re thinking about them helps them anticipate great things in their employment future. This confirms to them that they made the right choice by picking your company.
Get the paperwork signed.
You can also build your employer brand by showing new hires your organization is, well, organized. Cara Silletto, the founder of consulting firm Crescendo Strategies, says, “Have them do the HR paperwork before they arrive, so you can focus on introducing new hires to key leaders, the culture of the organization, the building itself, and their new team.”
Tools like electronic signatures enable you to get all the paperwork taken care of before your new employees get to work. And this will help you focus on more important things on day one.
It’s the day they’ve been waiting for: the first day of their new, exciting job. Now it’s on you to make it all they hoped it would be. (Don’t panic! You’ve got this.) Here are a few things you should be sure to do on day one:
Set up a welcoming workspace.
Picture this: a vacant desk covered with dust and a mountain of new-hire paperwork. Does that look welcoming? Of course not. Instead, make your new hire’s workspace comfortable.
Urbanbound’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Krasman, says, “Our new hires are met with a card from our leadership team, a water bottle, a t-shirt, and box of chocolates. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but a small gift can go a long way toward helping new employees feel welcome.”
Even if you don’t have the budget for a welcome package complete with gifts, you can certainly put together a card and a package of office supplies they’ll need anyway. And at the very least, you should have your new hire’s desk set up.
“Have the workspace ready and tidy. Include basic office supplies, a copy of your employee handbook, and log-in instructions,” suggests Kiner.
The rest of their first day will go much more smoothly if new hires have a comfortable, set-up space to do be in. Whether you go the extra mile and provide little gifts or simply make sure everything is plugged in, clean, and working, creating a welcoming workspace is vital on the first day.
Often, the only people your new hire knows at the company are the recruiters and/or hiring managers. And those may not be the people he or she will be working with on a day-to-day basis. Starting the day off with some introductions will help him or her feel like a member of the team.
Kiner suggests using a welcome email with “a few lines written by her about who she is and what she likes to do. This will speed up the process of everyone getting to know each other.” Self-onboarding software will gather all the information you need for a Welcome Email and send it out to any group or the entire organization. Just knowing simple things like hometowns or favorite vacation spot can help employees break the ice more quickly.
Introducing your new hire to the team is the easier introduction. What’s more difficult is helping acquaint new hires with the rest of the team. The rest of your team only has to remember one new person. Your new hire could potentially meet dozens of teammates on his or her first day—and that can be a little daunting.
To help ease those introductions, Marci Lauber, Partner at Gilman Partners, suggests HR should “provide a cheat sheet of who’s who in the company. It will allow the employee to ‘study’ on his [or] her own and not feel embarrassed about asking who an individual is.”
You want new hires to feel comfortable on their first day. A large part of that is feeling comfortable with the people they’re working with, and facilitating lasting introductions is a vital part of that.
With all the newness of a first day, new hires shouldn’t have to worry about packing a lunch or finding a group to grab grub with. Let them know that lunch will be provided by the organization.
Amber Vaughn, new hire concierge at Atlantic Bay, says at her organization, “The new hire’s lunch is provided and they get to chat with their manager one on one during lunch to ask any job specific questions and to build on their relationship.”
It’s tough to build real, relaxed relationships on first days when pressure and anxiety are high. Lunch helps facilitate those relationships in a relaxed atmosphere.
After the first day, onboarding is about setting employees free to do their own work. Start pointing new hires to the people who they should lean on for support as they get up and running.
Managers should be trained to help new employees succeed on their teams. After lunch on the first day, encourage managers to continue developing a relationship with new employees so they will feel comfortable working together. Tell new hires what issues they should take to managers and the help they can expect to receive from their manager.
Lauber suggests organizations should “provide new employees with a mentor. Just having someone to go to with organizational questions will make their lives easier.” A mentor in the same department can help with questions that might feel uncomfortable to discuss with managers (e.g. “Do people in our department ever take long lunches?” or “Any suggestions for bringing up a concern with our manager?”). Mentors can also provide workplace friendship—which is vital to employee satisfaction.
New hires should likely meet with a lot of new people in their first week. That way they’ll know who to contact if they can’t connect to the internet, or who to work with to change benefits elections (etc.). Kiner suggests creating an onboarding plan for new hires that includes key people to meet and recommended trainings. That way, your new hire will know who and where to go to for help.
Even though you’re mostly out of the onboarding picture after the first week, there’s vital feedback to give and get during the first six months on the job.
These can be formal or informal. What’s vital is that you know whether or not your new employees is engaged. Kiner says, “After 90 days your new hire may not seem new anymore but remember it takes a year to get fully settled in. Continue quarterly check-ins and make sure there’s time to connect informally for coffee or outside of work.” She suggests working on goals, giving feedback, and seeing if there is anything your new hire needs to succeed.
The first few months after onboarding is a great time to get feedback on the process. “Ask if he has any questions, is stuck on anything, and if there were any surprises. Remind her that you appreciate her fresh perspective and [ask] whether she has any suggestions. New folks can also give you great tips to improve the onboarding experience so don’t hesitate to ask,” says Kiner.
For a better first day, make sure you make time for the little things in onboarding. Getting paperwork signed before new hires start, buying lunch on the first day, introducing hires to the right people, and remembering check-ins are great ways to make a lasting first impression.