Step into the shoes of a would-be employee and you’ll immediately remember the feelings you had when you were interviewing for and subsequently starting a new job. You were excited, nervous, and scrutinizing every interaction for a sign of what was to come. Don’t be fooled: your candidate’s first impression of you, her new employer, has likely already been formed. But everything that happens over the course of the next few days and weeks will likely either set her up for success or failure — and confirm or dismiss what she already feels. The bottom line is that new hire onboarding is essential to an employee’s longterm success. A lot has been written about how to make a good first impression when you’re the interviewee, but what about the impression you should be making as an employer?
Here are the things you need to ensure that all new employees feel energized, supported, and eager to dive into the work that lies ahead.
To ease a new hire’s nerves and reassure her that she’s made the right decision by choosing your company (hooray!), make sure that your onboarding system is up to snuff. From paperwork to orientation and setting expectations — and yes, showing her where the snacks are — here are the things you need to ensure that all new employees feel energized, supported, and eager to dive into the work that lies ahead.
Try name calling (the good kind)
Marketers know the power of name-calling: a study conducted by Cal Poly found that personalizing emails with the recipient’s name upped response rates by 36%, shortened response times by 34%, and made the campaign 30% more profitable over all. Using someone’s name relaxes them and lets them know you want to engage with them, specifically. No one wants to be a statistic; find opportunities to personalize interactions with candidates throughout the interview and onboarding process. Be sure to use proper names in correspondences leading up to in-person meetings and double check that all paperwork is addressed to a real person.
- Check in regularly via email or phone leading up to day 1. These quick check-ins will reassure her that everyone on the team is excited to get her and her brilliant ideas in the door.
- Consider welcoming her with a personalized gift. Get creative: a Google search may reveal her favorite hobby (rock climbing); get her a gift card to a local climbing gym.
Start onboarding before day 1
The first day of work is often stressful for a new employee, but it doesn’t have to be if you incorporate a “pre-boarding” flow into your onboarding system. Once the offer letter’s been signed, start your onboarding process right away — even if the employee isn’t starting for a few weeks. Get as much paperwork taken care of before her first day so her Monday is spent interacting with new teammates rather than filling out forms. Ask her preferences for things like: desk needs, software, and any other personalized equipment that your company provides. Not only will you make her feel welcomed, but you’ll be able to devote more time to showing her her new office and teaching her about your culture.
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If your employee is going to have a set of keys, get them ready for that first day so that she feels empowered to treat the company space as her own. If you’ll be providing her with a cell phone, make sure that it works.
- Collect all of her personal information and send her all the appropriate paperwork shortly after she’s signed her offer letter and you’ve determined a start date. This way, she won’t experience any lags in benefits or payroll.
Consider a big unveiling
Nothing makes someone feel more welcomed than being treated like royalty. So roll out the red carpet. Let your new hire know just how excited you are to have her on your team by announcing her arrival to your company or your immediate team in person, via email, and within any professional and social networks that your company might use.
- Before the big unveiling, ask her what she’s excited to work on and any interesting personal facts she’s willing to share with the team.
Don’t let her look out of place
Every company has its own culture and it will take a new employee time to get up to speed on your rules — and your fun. To make her feel at ease on her first day, make sure there are no unwelcome surprises:
- Assign a first day buddy who can show her where the bathroom and the soft drinks are.
- Prepare her for any upcoming social events and activities (beer Friday, Wednesday night softball, peer review Thursday). This gives her the opportunity to plan ahead so she can participate in as many events as possible without feeling left behind.
- Book her lunch break: connect her with as many teammates as possible for formal (calendared) or informal lunch dates so she doesn’t find herself sitting alone at her desk.
- Give her the lay of the land: make sure she has an org chart and understands who are the key stakeholders in each part of your organization.
- Make sure she knows the quirks of the office: Who plays the music on a Friday afternoon? Are there food allergies? How late do people have to stay—and how late do people stay, realistically? The more forthcoming you are, the easier it will be for her to integrate into the team and your space.
Make her an (informed) brand ambassador
It’s 2016 and if you haven’t realized it already, every one of your employees is a potential ambassador for your company. With sizable professional networks, it’s easy to see how creating a great first impression and a positive onboarding experience can go a long way in helping you retain great talent and recruit top individuals. Empower your new hire to become a brand ambassador, right away.
- If her new role requires product expertise, book a training session with a manager or teammate who’s well-versed in your tools as soon as humanly possible.
- Provide her with as much documentation as you have (and make sure you’ve had a chance to polish it up; remember: mind your appearance!): brand voice and style documents, culture handbooks, and videos of past company all-hands.
Course correct immediately
Set up a regular check in with her manager or someone on your HR team to discuss goals, frustrations, and questions.
What we feel and what we know aren’t often one and the same. Sometimes, our gut just sways us one way or another (even when the facts tell us otherwise) which is why it’s supremely important to establish a feedback loop for a new hire right away. Set up a regular, quick check in with her manager or someone on your HR team to discuss goals, frustrations, and questions; no concern is too small! Let her know early and often that you’re available and open to feedback so any challenges or issues can be addressed right away. The more open and honest you are, the more likely you’ll be able to crush any insecurities and empower her to do her best work (and continue singing your company’s praises; see above).
- Set up standing meetings with managers and other key personnel from the first day, so she’ll have an immediate feedback loop.
What have you learned over your years of interviewing and onboarding new hires? How do you make a lasting good impression? We’d love to know.