Most ‘first days’ are gut wrenching affairs marked by sweaty palms, colleague introductions you won’t remember, and PowerPoints – lots and lots of PowerPoints. It’s important for HR to recognize that like any first impression, bad first days have the potential to tarnish a starter’s view of the company culture, their colleagues, and their responsibilities.
Ideally, your employee’s first day should signify the start of something great, not a descent into an uncertain and apathetic unknown. Because that can set the tone for their entire career at the company. If you want employees that take ownership, care about their colleagues, and align their own goals with that of your business, make their first day memorable for all the right reasons.
Although it might be impractical for you to personally chauffeur a new employee around each department and make introductions for all personnel, it’s critical that they meet their team, their manager, and if possible, anyone from upper management. Blurring the lines between hierarchies and forming a connection between starters and their bosses will inspire respect and familiarity instead of fear and aversion.
Considering how many people forget the names of their colleagues as soon as they are introduced to the next person, giving them a tour of their team (or for many SMEs, introducing them to all the staff) may not seem like an effective method. However, shaking hands, learning a colleague’s role, and getting to know someone (albeit superficially) is the first part of integration and feeling accepted.
Send a welcome email
You’d be surprised how fulfilling it can be to open your brand-new work email and have a welcome letter waiting for you. It feels personal, gives your starter something to read, and can be used as another channel for the office to use to greet and welcome them to the team.
Have a plan
First days – even weeks – are an awful experience. In addition to knowing nothing about your colleagues, you know precious little about your work and how you will contribute to the team. While people busy themselves with their role, new employees tend to get left to find their own amusement. Given that it’s the first day and everyone is looking to make a good impression, leaving newcomers to browse Facebook between snippets of work can be anxiety triggering and demotivational.
Many leading companies are remedying the slow start to a working week by giving newcomers an onboarding week filled with games, meetings, paid lunches, job shadowing, and presentations on different elements of the company. Orientation is crucial to giving your newbie the tools they need to drive into their work efficiently rather than learning the trade slowly without guidance over the next month.
Set some early goals
Goals are good. They are benchmarks that are tangible, and give new employees some sense of belonging and vision for the next few weeks. Setting a few of these will help them feel part of the company, and more of an asset than a burden. Don’t go overboard to the point they feel overwhelmed – just enough to give them purpose.
Assign a mentor or buddy
HR are great at integrating people, but at times, can feel like a teacher on your first day of school – a comfort, but not exactly one of the ‘crew’. Assigning a colleague to support a newcomer during those early weeks will help them learn more about the culture and workplace, and give them a point of contact that’s not HR. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, try and make the buddy someone from their own department. It will help them learn about the role of their department, and should you wish to introduce job shadowing, make it an easy transition from buddy to mentor.
Ask for it! At the end of the first day or the last week of orientation, sit down with your employees and ask for their feedback face-to-face. You’ll discover what was good about your program, what they thought was lacking, and how to improve it for future employees.
If you’re struggling to find the time to create an onboarding program, consider automating your HR duties with software. There are dozens of solutions online for payroll, calculating and managing leave and employee records. Bayzat Benefits is one of many solutions you can incorporate to give you more time to focus on orientation, enrolling new employees, and setting out corporate benefits and schemes to promote a more productive workforce.