Whether you currently do anything about onboarding new hires or not, onboarding always happens. It'll either happen naturally if left to itself, or you can shape it through a structured process. Either way, it will happen, leaving your new employees with a good, neutral or maybe even a bad impression of their team and the company.
Successful onboarding is your way to ensure results fast by getting your new hires productive and integrated into your team quickly and smoothly.
And because only a handful of companies actually do it, the little steps you take to onboard your new hires can have a real positive impact.
Plus, most employees decide in 10 days whether they’ll stay at a company or keep looking for another job. So even if you just focus on part of the issue by focusing on that first week - do it. You want to reassure them that they made the right decision on signing a contract with you.
Luckily it’s not as difficult as it might seem to turn our new hire orientation ideas into a doable first week plan. But before you start planning your new employee’s first week, there are three main guidelines you should keep in mind:
Be organised and clear – these two things already go a long way to making a great first impression.
Make sure you get everyone involved – onboarding shouldn’t be exclusively an HR or direct manager's task. At the very minimum, your new hire’s entire team should know about their first day in advance.
And last but not least, remember that the first days are all about setting and confirming expectations. It’s time to integrate your new joiners with the real company culture (not make them think that working at your company is something it's not), so make sure to adapt these new hire orientation ideas to what makes sense at your organisation.
1. Create an agenda for their first week
Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many companies forget about this “detail”. Before your new team member even sets foot at the door, make sure you already have a complete schedule of what they’ll be doing that week. This way, you make sure they don’t feel lost or bored – and that you don’t look like you don’t really care about them.
2. Set up a comfortable workplace
Be sure that you’ve set up a comfortable workplace for them before they arrive. That includes setting up their computer, email and other accounts they might need access to in advance, as well as providing any supplies they might need.
Another idea is making sure they have access to the employee handbook and organisational charts, to make sure they have a better understanding of the company. By making these kinds of documents available through their smartphone and other devices, new hires can take advantage of idle moments to flip through them, or make quick checks whenever and wherever their question arises.
3. Give them a welcome gift
Giving your new members a little welcome gift is a nice touch to make them feel at home in their new team. It could be as simple as placing a small plant on their work station or providing them with a swag bag.
4. Schedule real meetings
Ensure that your new starters have some quality sit-down time with their manager to properly go over expectations and set objectives together. If this meeting doesn’t happen during the first week, the chances of it being forever postponed because of the workload and completely forgotten about are high.
You don’t want to overwhelm new hires during their first few days, but take advantage of already scheduled meetings to introduce them to the teams they’ll be working closely with, instead of the typical "introductory" meetings. It's a great opportunity to see how these teams actually run their projects, and the different work styles of the people involved.
They might only participate as a spectator during these meetings until they get a better feel for the issues, but they will most likely bring a fresh perspective, contribute new ideas and raise important questions no one was asking.
5. Set them up with a buddy or mentor
This is a simple and very straightforward way to assure your new hire will always have someone to turn to in times of need. If possible, assign them a mentor from a different department. This will help them develop relationships beyond their team, and also give a different perspective of the organisation.
6. Don’t let them eat alone!
It’s already enough pressure starting a new job to also have to worry where and with whom to eat lunch. Don’t let them stress about the small stuff! Either take them to lunch and introduce them to your favourite sandwich shop, or order lunch in for the whole team.
Lunchtime is a great moment to talk and bond in a more relaxed environment. Social occasions build the core of your company culture, and no one can be expected to get onboarded into their team whilst spending time alone during the first days on the job. If you’re not sure how to promote your company culture to newbies, get started with cultureboarding.
7. Set aside some training time
There might be some specific software, tools and systems your new hires have to learn about before they can actually start working, so make sure you set time aside for this during the first week. You can also use the training hours as an opportunity to meet people.
If it’s a heavily used piece of software, with extensive training, maybe break the training down between different coaches. They'll meet different people, learn how different employees use the system’s tools, and no one on your team will feel pressured to spend endless hours training someone while they still have deadlines to meet.
8. Let them introduce themselves properly
The first week will be filled with countless introductions to countless different people. But it normally takes time until they go from being “the new guy” to being actually recognised by their names.
So try to help this process by letting them introduce themselves properly. Have them write an introduction email for example, telling the rest of your team a bit more about themselves, their experiences, hobbies, or whatever is appropriate at your company.
9. Make it fun
There’s a lot of things new employees have to do during their first week that are just plain boring, like filling in paperwork and going through mandatory training. So try to make it a bit more interesting and light. Make these tasks more fun by placing them on a scavenger hunt, for example. Take the pressure off of meeting so many new people by organising team-building activities.
10. Go beyond the first week
If you put all of these new hire orientation ideas into practice, rest assured that you’ll already be doing better onboarding than most companies out there. But be sure you can always do better.
Onboarding doesn’t have to start on a new hire’s first day: you can engage with them before, by helping them transition from their old job, and already sharing information about their new position.
And don't forget that new hires are still learning the ropes and integrating beyond their first week. Long-term onboarding processes have better, longer lasting results. So instead of thinking about onboarding as a week (or maybe a month) process, think about making it even longer. Companies like L’Oreal and IBM have onboarding programmes that run for 2 years!
Have you tried any of these new hire orientation ideas before? We'd love to hear what's worked (and what hasn't) in your onboarding process, or when you've started a new job somewhere. Share in the comments below!
About Christina Chaplin
I am a bilingual English-Spanish strategic marketing professional with solid experience in agile product development and market positioning. I have always been in "connecting" roles, as a project or team leader, integrating various departments and areas to design and execute broad-reaching strategic projects. I have a true passion for technology and building innovative end-user experiences that improve and enrich people’s work and lives. With more than 15 years professional experience and a decade of working abroad, I have gained significant experience leading and working with multinational and remote teams.
I'm strategically-minded, a quick learner, a critical thinker, and am enthusiastic about my work, with a get-it-done attitude and curious spirit that drives a constant search for new trends and ideas that can be turned into new business opportunities or bring value to my organization.
Sectors: Various marketing & communications roles in companies and organizations across sectors such as SaaS / Internet / Tech, Education, Recruitment & HR Consulting.