New Hire Orientation Blog
Welcoming New Hires Like You Mean it
The unemployment rate in the US has steadily marched downward from near 10% in 2010 to the current rate of 3.5%. Meanwhile, 10,000 Baby Boomers have been retiring every day during that same time. Finally, the economy has been enjoying the longest post-recession expansion in history. These are all good things in a general sense, but the situation is like a perfect storm that has employers feeling increasingly desperate in such a tight labor market. Companies are having a hard time filling positions, forcing them to “up their game” when it comes to recruiting, hiring, and engagement efforts. Companies who want to hang onto their hard-won new hires know they need to hit a home run when it comes to onboarding, and one are ripe for new attention is welcoming new hires. Here’s how to do it right by focusing on two critical areas: welcome letters and the first day of work.
4 Letters Welcoming New Hires
Welcoming new hires like you mean it begins with pre-boarding once the candidates accepts your offer of employment. The worst thing you can do to a new hire is radio silence between that acceptance and their actual first day of work. When this happens, you can bet the new hire will already be questioning whether or not they made the right decision by the time they show up for their first day (that is, if they show up). You want them to feel the love immediately. And that begins with the all-important welcome letter.
Too many companies don’t send a welcome letter or email at all, or if they do it’s more like a note from someone in HR giving a few cursory details about their start date and so forth. I recently wrote about how to do a better job with this in my article, The New Hire Pre-Boarding Welcome Letter. It’s a good starting point, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since and now realize a single welcome letter really isn’t enough. In fact, I’m recommending the new hire receive four different welcome letters during pre-boarding. If that sounds excessive to you, hear me out as I explain each of them:
- A welcome from the CEO: What could get a person more jazzed up about starting their new position than receiving a welcome letter from the head of the company? Seriously, this is worth a little coordination to make it happen. It basically be a template, but I do recommend that it mention something in particular that stood out about the candidate during their interview. The other major purpose of this welcome from the CEO is to set the big-picture tone of becoming part of the company – what makes it special, its mission and vision, and so on. This should be the first letter they receive as soon as humanly possible after accepting the employment offer.
- A welcome from their direct supervisor/manager: The next welcome letter they receive should come from the person to whom they will report directly – their immediate manager or supervisor. If this manager was involved in the hiring process, they should spend more time on why they’re excited for the new hire to join the company based on their resumé and interview. But it’s a good opportunity to lay out the manager’s general expectations around work ethic and performance, which can then be balanced by the manager’s commitment to actively helping the new hire succeed through plenty of support and encouragement. My previously-mentioned article about the welcome letter has a good example of what this looks like.
- A welcome from their assigned buddy: If your company doesn’t have a “buddy system” for new hires, create it ASAP! The buddy is the person who is going to be available to the new hire for any and all questions, showing them the ropes of where things are and how things work, and so on. This welcome letter doesn’t need to be quite as high-powered or formal as the others. It should be a bit more casual and more of “heads-up” kind of contact. It’s meant to set the new hire at ease knowing there’s going to be someone who help them get oriented to their new workplace. The buddy should mention that if the new hire has any questions now, they should feel free to ask them.
- A welcome letter from HR: This one is definitely more nuts-and-bolts, but is a critical piece of the pre-boarding process. It should include a PDF copy of the company’s employee handbook or manual (or a link to the online version if there is one) and as much paper as possible that can be handled electronically. Nothing kills a first day in a new position than slogging through mountains of paperwork. Let them get as much of that out of the way before they show up for their first day.
Do your welcome letters this way and you’ll literally be in the top 5% of companies who do pre-boarding right. And your new hires will love you for it. If you do this, your new hires will be chomping at the bit for that first day, which is your next chance to wow them.
Welcome a New Employee with a First Day to Remember
With your new hires already feeling the love from those welcome letters, and the opportunity to get a lot of paperwork out of the way ahead of time, now you can bring them in for their carefully-crafted first day on the job. Here’s a good scenario to imagine as your starting point for welcoming new hires to their first actual day of work:
- Greeted by the buddy: When the new hire walks in, they are warmly greeted by someone they’ve already interacted with during pre-boarding – their assigned buddy! This will immediately set them at ease if they have any first day jitters. The buddy will accompany them to their workstation.
- The workstation welcome: The new hire’s workstation should not only be fully set up and equipped with everything they need (which means having put in all the work requests and IT requests needed well in advance so it’s all taken care of), but is also warmly decorated with creative welcome messages, a selection of company swag (mug, pens, business cards, and so on), a hard copy of the employee handbook, nameplate or doorplate (or both), company ID, and a printed agenda of what’s in store for the day.
- Company announcement: The new hire’s direct supervisor or manager should send out a company-wide email announcing and welcoming your newest team member’s arrival and say a few words about them and what they are bringing to the company.
- Team welcome: The first official item on the agenda should be an informal meet-and-greet over coffee and pastries with the team or people the hire will be working with on a daily basis.
- Company welcome and overview: After the informal meet-and-greet, the new hire should be given a big-picture overview of the company. This is another chance to reinforce the vision and mission of the company, the organizational structure, workplace culture and expectations, critical company policies – everything the new hire needs to know at this point about what it means to be a part of this business.
- Working lunch: Order takeout lunch for the new hire’s team and have a real working team meeting with food. Make it clear ahead of time that you don’t expect the new hire to jump in with input or anything (though they should feel free to do so if they want to). It’s a time for them to observe how everyone works with each other and to get a feel for what the team’s priorities are right now.
- A one-on-one with supervisor: After the working lunch, the new hire should spend a good hour or more in a one-on-one session with their direct supervisor or manager. This is a chance for the new hire to ask any questions they may have at this point. The manager should also use this time to fill in details about the specific responsibilities and tasks that will make up the new hire’s daily work. Depending on the position, it may or may not be appropriate to talk about specific performance goals. Be very clear about expectations.
- Buddy tour: In the mid-afternoon, the new hire’s buddy should take them on a complete tour of the facility, with informal introductions along the way to key people. It’s a chance for the new hire to learn where everything is located and meet more people in the company.
- HR Check-in: After the facility tour, the new hire should spend some time with HR. Having already been through most of the paperwork and already having had a chance to look through the employee handbook during pre-boarding, this is a time to ask any questions the new hire may have, as well as wrap up any final bits of paperwork, benefits enrollment, and so on.
- Wrapping up day one: The last thing the new hire should do is have a quick check-in with their direct supervisor/manager to see if any other questions have come up or if there are any other meetings the new hire should have with other departments in the coming days.
This is how pre-boarding and the first day of work are handled by companies who are serious about welcoming new hires like they mean it!