Like it or not, first impressions matter.
Science tells us that we make our first impression of a new person in as quickly as seven seconds. Even though these impressions are often wrong, many of us are willing to ignore facts when they don’t support our first impressions, according to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In other words, once we establish a first impression, we’re likely to continue believing it no matter what.
“First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust,” Robert Lount, a researcher at Ohio State University, said in an interview with Live Science. “If you get off on the wrong foot, the relationship may never be completely right again.”
You don’t hire employees with the hope they’ll work for you for a few months before moving on to the next thing. You hope that they’ll be there for a long time — and maybe even become the future leaders of your organization. That being the case, it is critical that you do everything within your power to increase the chances your new hires feel right at home the first day they sit down at their desks. Here are 10 ways you can make your employee onboarding process that much better:
You’ll have plenty of time to get your new hires configured on your networks and systems before they start, so make sure you have their workstations prepared by their first day. Set up a new employee’s laptop, usernames and passwords, email addresses, and any other devices well before they start. Also make sure their workstation is stocked with the materials they need to do their jobs (e.g., pens and paper).
It takes as long as six months before an employee becomes fully productive in a new role. You can’t expect your new hires to dive into a full workload right away. But you can put together a reasonable workload that a rookie can handle during their first week on the job. Prepare assignments and materials ahead of time so an employee can ease into their new position immediately.
To ensure that your current employees aren’t blindsided by the fact they’ll be working with a new person, let them know ahead of time who your new hire is, what their background is like, and other things of that nature. Whenever possible, rope in a team member or two into the interview process to get additional feedback — which should increase the chances a new hire is the right fit.
Your new employees will have to fill out things like tax forms and other government forms, as well as any potential non-compete or non-disclosure agreements on the first day of the job. But they’ll need time to review retirement packages and health care benefits. Schedule time for new hires to complete all necessary paperwork on the first day. Let them circle back to finish the rest of the paperwork later on in the week. You don’t want to turn them off by drowning them in paperwork right away.
When your new hire steps foot in the office on their first day, introduce them as quickly as you can to the people they will be working with directly. We all know how awkward those first few hours of a new job can be. The sooner you introduce your rookies to their new team members, the more welcomed new hires will feel.
You don’t need to introduce your new hires to everyone in the office on the first day. It can be quite overwhelming. Instead of introducing your new workers to every single employee, send out a company-wide email to the organization which briefly introduces the new hire. If people outside of their immediate department have the time and want to stop by and say hi, they will.
Your new employee doesn’t know where the best place to grab a bite to eat nearby is. They don’t know where to go when they need more paperclips or staples. They don’t know where the printer is. They don’t know where the different departments are. Spend 15 or so minutes walking your new employee around the office and office complex to give them a brief overview of the lay of the land.
To eliminate any confusion, designate a specific member of the team that will be there to answer any questions your new hire may have. If a rookie is unsure of how to use a platform or piece of software they’re unfamiliar with, you don’t want them to sit there pretending to know what they’re doing for fear of being embarrassed to admit they have no clue. With a mentor nearby, an employee will feel confident to ask that individual any questions that may pop up over the course of the first few weeks. In addition to making sure your new hire is productive, these relationships can also produce strong friendships over time.
Sometimes the easiest way to get to know a coworker is by spending time with them outside of the office. A great way to get your new hire to become comfortable around their new coworkers is by scheduling a small team lunch. After you all sit down, play some icebreaker games to get the conversation started.
As a manager, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Unfortunately, you can’t be there to oversee every aspect of your rookie’s first day. (That’s what the mentor is for.) Still, you’re not so busy that you can only say hello. Make it a point to check in with your new hire over the course of the day. Bring them a small present — like a coffee mug or some company swag — in the afternoon when you stop by their desks. Not only will your employee feel more welcomed, they’ll understand right off the bat what kind of boss you are.
How does your company make a new employee feel welcomed on their first day?