employee onboarding fireworks

Employee Onboarding: Make the First Days Memorable – in a Good Way!

We always hear that first impressions matter. Immediately our minds gravitate toward meeting people in business and social settings, interviews or even sales calls. Why don’t we think of the first impression we make when we add a new employee to our company?

The goal at any company should be that the new prospect will be so impressed and wowed by his/her first day that he/she goes home and tells someone that it was the “best first day on the job EVER.”

Instead…what we often hear is that new employees spend most of their first day filling out papers, watching safety videos and learning about insurance and benefit elections. How impressive is that? At the end of that day, my bet is that many new employees go home frustrated and exhausted, but not exhilarated.

While, admittedly, the first day is not totally indicative of your company’s culture, I believe that it at least needs to fit with your culture. Remember that it is a journey on which the new employee is beginning to embark.

So how do you get there from here?

Take an honest look at your recruitment & employment brand

Examine the messaging that you use to correspond with applicants from your applicant tracking system. Be sure that you are selling your company, your culture and the uniqueness of your organization.

Do you have any videos or testimonials from current employees? Make sure that you communicate with applicants throughout the selection process so they feel valued – using existing resources such as these makes it easier. There is nothing worse than an applicant applying for a job in your company and feeling his/her information fell into a black hole.

Remember, applicants will tell their friends and family when they have had a great or a bad experience.

The selection and hiring process will be the first impression a candidate has of your company and will [hopefully] set the expectation that working for your company will be different – in a good way!

A positive employee onboarding process

After you interview the candidate and he/she accepts your offer, consider some the following ideas of how you can make the first day at work unique:

  • Put up a welcome sign with the employee’s name on it.
  • Have a welcome reception so new employees can meet their coworkers.
  • Identify a mentor that can help the new hire with his/her transition to your organization. This is especially helpful for allowing the new employee to learn about your company culture.
  • Have co-workers take the new employee to lunch on the first day. This will also help with acclimating the employee to the area including schools, day care, dry cleaners, where to go to lunch, etc.
  • Make sure to point out unique things about your company that new hires should know – such as, history of how it got started, attitude on community service, awards won, etc. Take it to the next level and create a fun and informal company culture guide book to hand out to new employees.
  • Send a gift or card to the new employee’s home soon after his/her first day so his/her significant other feels connected to your organization. This could be as simple as pictures taken on the first day or a dinner certificate to a local restaurant.
  • Spread out some of the drudgery of completing all the initial paperwork so it is not so overwhelming for the new teammate. Consider the use of employee onboarding software to streamline the process.
  • Have new employees complete a short bio form that asks them interesting personal facts such as hobbies, where they grew up, etc. Then, distribute these forms to all employees so they can immediately feel connected to the new hires and find some common ground and conversation starters. You could store all employee information forms electronically so new and existing employees alike could read them and learn about their colleagues.
  • If you used an employee assessment to help determine the candidate’s potential for optimal job fit during the hiring process, then this would be a great time to review those results with the new employee, as well. The net effect is it will help shorten the learning curve.

I’m sure many of you have developed your own great ideas on how to make the first day at work memorable. Please share ideas that have worked well for your organization by submitting a comment.


Feature Image Credit: Fireworks by Thor(contact)

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