We’ve all been there. It’s your first day in a new job at a brand new company.
It can be an extremely stressful experience, no matter how excited you are to be there or to have got the job. So why, when we’ve all experienced this, do we so often forget what it’s like? All too frequently, companies fail to welcome their new hires properly.
Those first few days in a job can shape an employees’ first impressions of your company and their expectations for the future. Changing jobs is a huge switch and can cause a lot of mental turbulence. Research shows that it can take 3-9 months for a new hire to feel settled and behave “authentically”. Of course, if a new hire isn’t appropriately welcomed, it can likely take longer than this.
If a new hire fails to settle and consider themselves to be part of the team, it seems inevitable that they will eventually look to settle somewhere else. According to the Work Institute Retention Report, “more than 3 in 4 employees who quit could have been retained by employers.”
So, when quality candidates are difficult to source, and the hiring process can be so costly, it makes sense to make sure you help your new employees to settle in.
So, here are some tips for welcoming a new hire.
1. Prepare for them arriving.
Nothing makes someone feel less welcome than feeling as though they’d been forgotten about. Make sure a desk is prepared for them. Maybe add a welcoming gift or a card. Add some personal touches that show you’ve prepared for their arrival.
2. For their first day, give them a later start time.
Chances are, you still have last minute things to organise. Maybe you need to set up their laptop or get some work out of the way, so you can spend the time with them that you need to. It’s much better that when they arrive, everything’s ready to go, rather than waiting around for tasks to be completed. Also, nobody sleeps well the night before a new job. Giving them an extra hour provides an added touch of thoughtfulness.
3. Introduce them to everyone.
Of course, this is more difficult in very large companies, so it’s not always entirely attainable. However, a newly hired employee should be introduced to all the members of their own team, at the very least. If you want to go one step further, you could try team bonding exercises to really break the ice.
4. Take them out for lunch.
Keep this a relatively small affair, depending on who they’ll be working most closely with. Then, use this time to get to know them a little better. The interview process can be gruelling, and it can result in you only getting to know a particular side of each other. So, take away the pressure and just spend some time with them.
5. Introduce them to their new role slowly.
Don’t throw them in at the deep end to see if they sink or swim. Not everyone deals with tests all that well. When you’ve been with a company for a long time, it can be easy to forget that ingrained processes and systems are only familiar to you because you’ve been doing them over and over. For a new hire, those processes will take time to learn. So, spend the first few days giving them that time, while completing small tasks so that they slip seamlessly into their new role over the next couple of weeks.
6. Get the paperwork done. However, maybe don’t do it first thing.
Many companies recommend getting the paperwork out of the way, which is entirely understandable. However, consider leaving it until the second day, especially if there’s a lot of paperwork. This approach means that the employees first day can be dedicated solely to familiarising themselves with the place and the people. Spending your first day locked in an office filling out several different types of form can be an underwhelming start to a new job.
7. Give them a chance to speak.
At the end of the day, this is a massive step for them. They’re now dedicating their time to pursuing a career with your company. They might need to talk to be able to process the change. So, instead of always telling them new things that they need to take on board and learn, ask them questions. Give them a chance to feedback on the hiring process. Make them feel safe to acknowledge if they’re not quite sure about something.
Ultimately, the most important part of welcoming a new hire is making them feel comfortable. Everyone’s different, and some hires will require more attention than others.
However, it is crucial for a longstanding relationship that the first impression is positive. Otherwise, you will spend twice the time trying to make up for a negative first impression, wasting both your time and theirs.
So, remember your own experiences as a new hire. There’s no rulebook, and these are just some ideas. Rather, treat people the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be on the right track.