The first day of work is incredibly critical to ensuring that a new joiner feels positive about the decision they have made to join your company. In fact, research shows that the first few days and weeks of any employee’s new job set the tone for their entire experience with an organisation. If it is a positive experience, you have a highly engaged employee who is excited and motivated to achieve big things in their new role. If it is a negative experience, you have an employee thinking they made a huge mistake and there are probably not going to still be working for you this time next year. Despite this, very few organisations put together a proper first day plan for their new joiners.
Make them feel welcome
Step one for ensuring a new joiner has a good first day is self-explanatory, you need to ensure that the new hire feels welcome. The truth is, most first days all seem the same. You arrive at your new place of work, spend a while waiting in reception, meet with HR, sign some forms, get your laptop and sit down at your desk and quickly get introduced to your team, who smile, shake your hand and then go back to working on whatever it is they have to do. The very first moment with the new firm should be filled with the “wow” factor. Have the hiring manager meet them for coffee before work and bring them in to the office and take them to their desk personally. When they get to their desk, imagine if there were a load of welcome gifts on their desk, a welcome card from the team etc. That is going to leave a positive impression, and one they will likely not have experienced before.
Focus on team integration
The leading cause of attrition, including new hire failure is a lack of fit in to the team. Despite this, very few onboarding experiences are focused on integrating the new hire in to the team, they are instead focused on the more pragmatic activities of ensuring the person has a working computer and takes the awful mandatory e-learning modules we all suffer through when we join a new company. Instead, the first day should be focused on integrating the new hire into the team. After all, without the support of the team, they are going to take a lot longer to get up and running.
A great way to begin this process is to ensure the team all go out for a morning coffee and have a 30-60-minute sit down as their first official activity. It helps to get to know who everyone is, what they do and who can help with what. This is much more effective than to introduce the person to 20 different people during a quick office tour, as no new joiner remembers who half the people are. This is more personal and allows them time to feel comfortable with their new colleagues.
Walk them through the company values and objectives
Once you have returned from a morning coffee and maybe some breakfast with the team, the new joiner should then spend the rest of the time up until lunch learning about the company values and strategic priorities. The key to all employee engagement is to ensure employees have a clear purpose aligned to something much bigger than just their job and a list of tasks. By ensuring they are clear on the culture of the company, and the big goals the team are working towards, you provide the employee with a sense of pride at what a great company they are working for, as well as very clear on what everyone is working towards, and how they fit in to it. They should also be clear on the organisational structure and who the key people within the team are by the end of this session.
Lunch with the team
Next up is some more team bonding. Get the whole team together and have a nice lunch together. The new starter will likely have no idea where to go for lunch, and has no workplace friends as of yet, so it provides a nice safe environment for them to get a nice lunch and further build relationships with their new team. It also allows the team to find out more about their new colleague and answer any questions they may have.
Help them set up their tech
The new hire is now full of good food, had some nice chats with their colleagues and is very clear on what the company stands for and is trying to achieve, this is the perfect time to set them up with their laptop / desktop. This is also a nice way to ensure IT have some extra time to ensure that all the new starter’s tech requirements have been met. The leading cause of employee frustration on their first day is not having the tools available to begin working. It makes them feel like the organisation is not well prepared, or that they were not considered valuable enough to prepare for. So, this extra time is great to ensure someone could check all the systems work while they are out for coffees and lunches and being integrated into the team.
Send them home early
Finally, once they have managed to ensure they have all the tools working properly, send them home for the day. By the time they have got back from a long team lunch and set up all their tech, there should only be an hour or two left in the day. They are yet to be assigned any tasks and they have no project deadlines. Let them know what the agenda is for day 2 and then send them home. They have begun to be integrated in to the team, they know who the key people are and the organisational priorities and have set up all their systems, they are all set to begin work, but work does not need to start with an hour or so left on their first day. There will be plenty of time for late nights to ensure deliverables are met.