3 Key Employee Onboarding Tactics for an Employee’s First Days

3 min read
May 14, 2015

iStock_000002467463_SmallAs the famous old adage goes, you only get one chance at making a first impression. Managers should take this to heart during employee onboarding, ensuring that a new hire's first day and first month go as smoothly as possible. So much effort goes into recruiting top talent, but far too often that dedication stops short as soon as the talent has signed on with your company.

According to SHRM Foundation:

  • Half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position

  • Half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days

  • 30% of organizations use “passive onboarding” — onboarding that focuses mainly on compliance and little or no focus on clarification, culture, and making connections

It’s no surprise that half of workers fail so early in a new position when onboarding doesn’t touch on the most important things they want to know about. Culture should be king in this process, and that should come along with clarification on day-to-day procedures and connecting with other employees. Specifically, here are three great ideas for making a winning first impression during your employee onboarding process.

Set New Hires up for Success

At most companies, your office space is your home base. So setting up a new hire’s desk before they arrive on day one is an easy way to welcome them. That means more than just reserving an empty desk or arranging for a computer. Install any programs they will need at their job ahead of time and leave clear instructions on each, including how to log in. The desk should also already have a calendar for the entire first week, with notes on any meetings you’d like them to attend. If your office is large or unwieldy, there also should be map.

Company swag should be ready and waiting for them at the desk — like a coffee mug and a t-shirt/sweatshirt, and some extra goodies too. This will make them feel like part of the family. If you want to go the extra mile, prepare t-shirts in kids sizes if you know the new hire has family.

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Help Them Meet Fellow Employees

When a new employee enters the door on day one, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone on their team. Officially prepare everyone on the new hire’s name and background so employees will expect and greet them. Showing up on day one can be intimidating, so friendly faces will always help ease the transition.

Remove worries about lunchtime protocol by setting up a team lunch on day one. Over lunch they can get to know every else’s role and connect. Make it part of the lunch to learn company vernacular so they never feel like an outsider. If you’re really thoughtful, plan to bring in the new hire’s favorite food or go to a restaurant you know aligns with their preferences and any allergies.

Where the Managers Stand

Be prepared to take new hires under your wing. This means telling them to show up at 11 — not 8 or 9 — on day one, so you’ve already organized yourself and are ready to give your full attention. Managers should consider it part of their full-time job to ease the transition for new hires. Always be available to answer questions, set up a messaging system so you can talk from your desks, and plan regular meetings to talk not just about work progress but also about state of mind.

Be the company culture guru, always letting them know basics like where people park, the favorite places for lunch, the best coffee in the area, what time people usually come and go, etc. Don’t sugarcoat; new hires are more likely to leave if you’ve set false realities than if you let them know that, for example, people tend to stay late at work during certain months.

And plan, plan, plan. Prepare goals for every milestone in the first two to three months for a new hire, making those goals transparent and achievable.

The first days at work should be more than just filling out papers if you want your new hires to stick around.



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