Organizations only have one chance to make a great first impression with their new-hires - on their first day. A new employee's first day is the most critical day of on-boarding. It leaves a lasting impression that should be both positive and memorable.
Creating a memorable first day for your new-hires doesn’t require an overly elaborate on-boarding program, but it should avoid the common mistakes and issues that plague many on-boarding experiences and lead to poor first impressions including lack of preparation and support, poor training, information/training overload, and failing to provide a warm welcome.
Here are 11 easy ways to create a positive and memorable experience for your new-hires on their first day.
- Be there to greet the new-hire. The first minutes of a new hire’s first day can set the tone for the entire day. Make sure someone (ideally their manager) is there to greet the new-hire when they arrive. The greeting should be extremely positive and welcoming, and it should convey that you are excited about their arrival.
- Have their desk and work space ready. Failing to prepare a new hire’s work space can lead to a poor first impression. The new-hire's work area should be clean, prepared, organized, and set-up with everything they need (computer, phone, supplies, business cards, file cabinets, etc.) to do their job. Everything should also properly function.
- Provide a tour of the office. New employees need help getting acquainted with the locations of conference rooms, restrooms, break rooms, printers/copy machines, and other critical areas in the organization. Be sure to provide a comprehensive tour of your facilities.
- Make introductions. Introduce the new-hire to their coworkers and the leaders of your organization. Also, introducing new-hires to your CEO (if possible) on their first day can make a great positive impression. Allowing them to meet with them personally (either one-on-one or as a group during orientation) can be even better.
- Have the manager present. When managers are absent or absorbed with other meetings and tasks on a new-hire's first day, new-hires are more likely to feel insignificant and confused. The new-hire's manager should not only be present, but open and available for most of the new-hire's first day.
- Provide one-on-one time. Ideally, managers should have plenty of one-on-one time with the new-hire on the first day to talk about the organization and its culture as well as their job and performance expectations. There should also be plenty of time allotted for questions.
- Give them a welcome packet. Prepare a welcome packet including information about the company, product/service literature, policies and procedures/employee handbook, training materials, job aids, reference materials, an on-boarding schedule, and a welcome letter/message.
- Include small and special touches. Integrate unique and special touches to make the new-hire feel welcome on their first day such as a welcome gift or decorations in their work space. Unique and caring touches make new-hires feel special.
- Make time for lunch. Never allow a new-hire to eat lunch alone. Whether it's taking the employee out to lunch or simply inviting them to eat lunch with their manager or team in the office, making time for lunch with the new-hire helps them feel part of the team and helps them start building relationships.
- Spread out the paperwork. New employees can spend most of their first day filling out paperwork and forms. Consider spreading out the paperwork process across multiple days or having them complete this paperwork prior to their first day.
- Provide training and an orientation, but don't schedule only training on their first day. Training and an orientation are important components to a new-hire's first day, but a full day of training on policies, procedures, systems, and job duties can lead to an overwhelmed new-hire. Instead, try to spread it out across the first week or two and focus on the big picture and essential training on the first day (technology systems, core job duties, etc.). Investing in new-hires' learning, development, and mentorship is crucial - just not all on Day 1.
A new hire’s first day sets the tone for not only the rest of your on-boarding process, but also contributes to whether new employees feel welcome and positive about their new jobs. As a result, make sure that every part of their first day – every experience, interaction, and activity – makes your new-hires feel welcomed and supported in their new roles and leaves a memorable and positive impression.