Creating that “wow” experience on the first day is one of the most important investments you can make in your new employees. Your new hire is excited to join your organization, but no doubt feeling nervous as well. A good employee wants to make a lasting impression, but so do you. Building a relationship with this new person is crucial to your business success, and having a well-planned and instituted onboarding procedure will help pave the future.
I remember when I started working at my first tech start-up company. The desk I walked into looked like it had been deserted for months. One of the scientists handed me a blue binder that contained some miscellaneous documents to fill out. There was no training and I literally jumped in, trying to make sense of anything and everything that was in front of me. Although the people were friendly, that was the extent of my orientation.
On the first day of the second tech company I was hired at, orientation was slightly different but no better. I had no computer because corporate headquarters failed to ship it on time. I received a tour of the office space, but my training was disorganized and incomplete. In my first week, the CEO of the organization visited from HQ and walked right past me without saying hello or introducing himself.
I tell you these stories not only to illustrate poor orientation procedures but more to emphasize how an employee’s first day sticks with them for years to come. The feelings you evoke in people on their first day sets the stage for how well they perform, how often they talk about your company, how engaged they will be with the rest of the team, and how committed they will be to the company mission and culture. This is why small businesses and start-up companies should have a top-notch onboarding procedure that leaves new hires with big smiles and warm, fuzzy feelings.
Here is a step-by-step guide you can use to set up your new hire orientation procedure:
#1 – Welcome your new hires with something special.
First and foremost, send your best representative to greet your new employee when he first arrives. Offer to get him a cup of coffee. A new employee’s face always lights up when you hand him a goody bag filled with some cool company swag. It tells the person he is now part of the team.
#2 – Explain what the first day will look like.
Make sure your new hires know exactly what to expect for their first day. Give them an outlined schedule, or explain verbally the chain of events they will be engaged in throughout the day. This shows you are organized and have planned for their arrival.
#3 – Make sure their space is clean and fully equipped.
When I would set up a new employee’s desk, I made sure it was a desk I would want to work at. It was clean and free of any leftover clutter from previous employees. The computer and monitor were all set up, complete with login instructions for email and wifi. I would even tape a printed sign that said “Welcome John Smith to ABC Company.”
#4 – Complete all necessary legal documents.
Whether you use printed documents to onboard new employees, or an online version, make sure all this is ready for completion. Gather all necessary pieces of information to complete the I9 (make sure you remind the new employee to bring these documents on the first day). Explain the health insurance benefits to the employee, and how to sign up.
#5 – Gather any important employee data that could be useful to the company.
When I onboarded new employees, I asked each employee to complete an employee information form. It asked for the basics like name, cell phone number, emergency contact name and number, and vehicle information. However, I would also ask them about their personal interests because this helped me plan employee events based on employee interests. Keep a binder of all these employee information forms, filed alphabetically, so you can access it in the event of an emergency.
#6 – Give them a physical and virtual tour of the organization.
A physical tour walks your new hires through the building and shows them where everything is located and how everything works. Where are the office supplies? How does the coffee machine work? Is there an alarm system that needs to be explained? A detailed tour is essential to making a new employee feel at home. A virtual tour is a video tour that walks your employee through all the ins and outs of the organization. It might give the company history. Use this space to introduce some other employees and what they do. Explain all the company perks and benefits. Sell your new hire on why she made a great choice joining your organization.
#7 – Outline the company mission and goals.
Either through video, but ideally in person, the CEO of the company should engage personally with the new hire. Share the company’s mission, the short-term and long-term goals, and any other pertinent information on where the company is at right now. What are the challenges? Talk about some recent wins. A personal welcome from the CEO goes a long way in making a new employee feel valued and welcomed.
#8 – Set out the employee expectations with an employee handbook.
If you don’t already have an employee handbook, you should definitely create one. An employee handbook outlines all the policies and expectations new hires should be familiar with. It sets the tone for how the company is managed, what it expects from its employees, and answers all the questions new employees often have in their minds. Your new employee should read the handbook and sign a receipt that is maintained in the employee file.
#9 – Take them to lunch and get to know them personally.
Plan a nice lunch for your new employee’s first day. Gather some of the team members he or she will be working with and head off to a local, favorite eating spot. This is your time to help the new person relax. Show that you care by asking questions about his personal life. Share some interesting information about yourself as well. Keep it light and fun.
#10 – Organize a complete training plan.
Once all the introductions have been made, and all the new hire paperwork has been filled out, it’s time to jump into the new job. The last thing you want to do is throw your new person into the deep waters, hoping she can and will swim. Not only does this send all sorts of negative messages, it sets your new person up for failure. In advance, think through everything your new hire needs to know to do their job effectively. Who does she need to talk with to be familiar with her role and her team? Plan a week-long training schedule, along with meeting times and people that need to be involved. Present this schedule to your new hire in paper or digital format. Make sure everyone involved follows through so your new hire is fully trained.
#11 – Check in with them frequently throughout their first week.
One of my favorite things to do when I onboard employees is check in at the end of the day to ask how their first day went. Employees always appreciated me showing care and concern. It also gave me a chance to gauge how they were feeling. Did they have a smile on their face? Were they still excited after a long day of intense onboarding? Don’t stop after the first day though. Check in frequently throughout their first week to let them know you are still thinking of them.
#12 – Be prompt with answering any lingering questions that come up during the week.
Even if you think you have given new employees everything they need to know, questions or issues will still come up. “I didn’t receive the link to sign up for health insurance.” “Do people usually go out to lunch or bring their lunch here?” “How do I make travel arrangements if I need to travel?” Answer all their questions as quickly as possible. Ensure them you are here if anything else arises.
This is the exact onboarding procedure I used with new employees at the last two organizations I worked at. I designed and maintained a new hire checklist that I used so each step was never forgotten. With this procedure, the companies’ first day impressions went from mediocre to excellent. New employees would rave about how great they felt after going through this experience. By implementing a tightly designed, new hire onboarding procedure, you can wow your employees, and give them something tangible to secure your professional reputation.
A Step-by-Step Guide to WOW Your New Employees in the First Week
August 25, 2016