We all know how intimidating the first day can be. You’re afraid you’ll mix up Larry in Accounting with Lenny in HR, and you have no idea where anything is. Being responsible for people on their first day is also intimidating—you want to make a good impression, you want to help your new employee integrate quickly, and you want to make sure you don’t leave anything important out. Though there’s nerves on both sides, you, as the seasoned employee of your company have more control over the situation. How you prepare can mean the difference between kicking off a smooth onboarding process and your new employee running off screaming. The power of a positive onboarding experience is in its impact on retention. In fact, one study showed that employees were 58% more likely to be employed after three years if they went through a structured onboarding process at the company. Here are some tips to make that potentially rough first day a little bit smoother.
1. Ease Up
When you’ve got a lot of information to pass along, it’s tempting to just spit it all out at once. You might get on a roll and start discussing everything your new employee would ever need to know, introduce them to everyone on the team—and totally overload them with information. Try easing up a little, and only give essential information, as it’s needed. For a less intimidating way to meet the team, consider a team coffee break or lunch where everyone can relax and get to know the new team member.
2. Create Some Documents
Because there is so much information to absorb on the first day, new employees may be worried they’ll forget crucial information. Ease their mind by providing documentation on the most critical information. Now, it’s important to keep this documentation as lean as possible, or it can create its own overwhelm, but a reference guide is very helpful for new employees who aren’t yet familiar with all your company’s protocols.
3. Cover the Necessities
So obviously you’ll want to cover where your new employee will be sitting, who they report to, how to contact HR…but don’t forget the other necessities. Show them where the kitchen and the fancy water dispenser is, and don’t forget to mention the location of the bathroom! These things are often overlooked, and some people are too polite to ask. Be sure to give them a chance to ask questions at regular intervals.
4. Organize Some Walkthroughs
Even if your new team member won’t directly be working with other departments, it’s helpful to know what everyone else does. Organizing some walkthroughs with members of different departments can help paint a cohesive picture for the newbie, and give them an idea of where they fit into the overall structure of the organization. For example, Entrepreneurs Luke & Aaron of E & S Tiles have generated a number of articles and videos that highlight the origin of the company, as well as overall company goals to help employees develop a better understanding of where the company came from, and where it plans to go. Also, it may be a good idea to walk new employees through general day-to-day operations, as this will also help them see how your culture operates.
5. Assign a Mentor
It’s hard to learn so many names at once, but having at least one person your new employee can turn to when they need help is extremely comforting. Assign a friendly and knowledgeable mentor to help ease the transition and answer their questions. Their mentor can help with anything from recommending the best taco joint in the area to helping them get the hang of your proprietary systems.
6. Get to Know Them
Be relaxed—there’s nothing wrong with getting to know your new hire throughout the orientation process. Ask them a bit about themselves, and offer some information about yourself. Be welcoming!
7. Have Tech Ready
There’s nothing more awkward than walking into a new job and realizing they’re not ready for you. When you hire someone, make sure IT is informed in enough time to ensure that the new hire’s equipment will be ready when their first day rolls around. Personally check in the day before and make sure a computer, mouse, and any batteries or other necessary equipment is ready and waiting. If accounts need to be set up, ensure they are all ready to go so it’s easy to show your new employee the systems and protocols you use.
Onboarding is a Process
Don’t mistake onboarding overall as orientation. The entire process isn’t completed in a day—far from it. Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into the culture and workflows of an organization, which can take months. However, the first day is the first step in this process, and keeping things organized, warm, and professional is a great way to kick off the onboarding process and make a good impression on your new team member.