The first days and weeks at a job leave a lasting impact on a new hire — for good or bad. Keep in mind that first impressions count. Make a concerted effort to welcome and integrate a new employee, to build a strong foundation that leads to a productive, long-term working relationship.
Start Before the First Day
Eliminate some of the first-day stress by making your new hire feel welcome before he sets foot in the office. Arrange lunch or coffee with his immediate supervisor and one or two of his new colleagues — keep the numbers small for ease of conversation. Allow the new person to get a feel for the company in advance by asking him to sit on a web meeting or video conference, or if your office has an active social media group, invite him to join and post a quick intro. By building a sense of familiarity with employees and operations before the employee's start date, you can reduce anxiety and help a new employee feel like a part of the team.
When a new hire shows up to find that he doesn't have a desk or a computer, it's difficult to feel welcome. Avoid that initial discomfort by making sure that everything is ready to go. Clear out a desk or an office, and set up a phone and computer. Create a cheat sheet for important technology needs, such as setting up an account on the server, using the printer, accessing the Wi-Fi and dialing an outside line. You might also stock the work area with pens, sticky notes and other standard office supplies. For a friendly finishing touch, include a small welcome gift, such as a company T-shirt, snack basket or water bottle.
Provide a Mentor
The first week of a job comes with a steep learning curve. In addition to figuring out job responsibilities, a new hire must also learn the ins and outs of the office. Make it easy for your new employee to get answers to their many questions by providing a first-week mentor. Choose someone who's approachable and familiar with the new worker's job. This person should encourage the employee to come to them with any inquiry, whether it's as small as, "Where's the bathroom?" or as significant as "What's the procedure for communicating with Client A?" A buddy system enables the new worker to find his way without feeling like a burden, so he gets up to speed in less time.
It takes time for a new hire to fit into the workflow of a company, but you can make this process more comfortable by involving him as soon as possible. Start with small tasks that fall into the person's area of expertise — ask a graphic designer to review a client's current branding, or have an accountant take on a simple tax form. In meetings, ask the employee's opinion to involve him in the conversation. Projects that are easy to accomplish build confidence and provide a stress-free introduction to your company's workflow.
A great onboarding process brings a new hire into the fold immediately. By involving the team and going out of your way to be welcoming, you can ease the transition from outsider to insider.
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