You’re excited, nervous and not quite sure what to expect as you psych yourself up to step through the door on your first day in a new job. What you need is to feel welcomed, supported and part of the team, but employers often fail to realise how important these first few hours are and neglect to properly induct their new recruits. As a result, they may lose a vital chunk of that person’s commitment when engagement levels should still be at their peak.
To put it into context, imagine how you would feel if you woke up on the morning of your birthday and no one bothered to celebrate with you or send you a card? Acknowledging an event that bears significance to someone through our actions is a key way of demonstrating their value and importance and employers can achieve this with a little bit of thought and pre-planning of their onboarding process.
- Send out any necessary paperwork that needs completing such as their contract. Make sure you request any important information such a tax forms, bank details or ID. You don’t want to spend their first day explaining why you can’t pay them because you’ve missed that month’s payroll submission date.
- Send them supporting documents such as an induction pack or employee handbook so that they can start to re-absorb information about your culture and working practice and mentally prepare themselves for joining you.
- Order any equipment they may need such as laptops, phones, desks or chairs so that their work station is ready and waiting for them when they arrive. These simple, inanimate objects are integral to helping someone feel that they belong and an empty space will resonate louder than a church bell in a graveyard full of tumbleweeds.
- Call your new employee to let them know how much you’re looking forward to them starting, and if there’s anything they need from you before day 1. This will give you a chance to pass on any first day instructions such as where to park, what time to arrive and any additional paperwork they need to bring. More importantly it will enhance their sense of well-being about the job and give you both an opportunity to break the ice and regain the rapport that you built up during the interview process.
- Make sure your IT systems are set up to accommodate your new recruit. This should include email accounts, database access and anything else central to the role they will perform.
- Sit your team down and remind them that they have a new colleague starting in a few days’ time. Explain how you will be onboarding them into the business and ask for their help and support in making the new person feel welcome.
- It’s good practice to ask your new employee to start a little bit later on the first day. This will this give you time to deal with any urgent issues so that you can give them your undivided attention, and be ready for when your new recruit walks through the door.
- When they do arrive, make them a cup of tea or coffee and bring them in to meet their colleagues so that they can start to get to know one another.
- Set aside some time to show them around their new work place so that they know where to find toilets, cloakrooms, refreshments, stationary etc.
- Have an onboarding induction plan in place and make sure you’ve managed your workload to accommodate it. There may be others in the team who can assist with this so don’t be afraid to assign some training to colleagues, particularly if their roles will interlink.
- Make sure you spend some time before you go home to ask them about their first day with your company, make sure they’re happy, and let them know that you’re really pleased that they’re now a part of your team.
All of the above will ensure your new recruit feels welcome and that their onboarding into the business is as smooth and positive as possible.
You may be happy with just covering off the basics, but there are some other ideas you could consider if you want to go the extra mile and really master first day engagement for new members of your team:
1) Invite them to join your LinkedIn network before they start. Ask your team to do the same. This shows that you’re committed to involving them in your professional circles and helps engender that all important feeling of belonging.
2) Set up a team lunch for their first day so that they have a chance to bond with their colleagues in more relaxed surroundings.
3) Select an area of responsibility that you know will play to their strengths and ask them to take ownership for it. This will demonstrate your faith in their abilities, enhance their confidence levels and enable them to start adding value straight away.
However you decide to maximise their experience, the most important thing to remember is that engagement of employees (unlike Birthdays), should go beyond someone’s first few hours in the business. Make every day an opportunity to inspire and motivate your team.