After numerous phone calls, plenty of questions and countless applications, you’re finally here: your new hire’s start date is just around the corner. You have the date marked down and you have their training materials ready to go. You run through a mental list of first day onboarding, but you still have your own responsibilities to cover and you start to feel overwhelmed.
Because of hectic, demanding schedules, HR Directors may rely on the traditional orientation filled with paperwork to keep your new hire busy. But it’s important to consider the first day experience from their perspective. You know the first few days of employment is an important decision-making time on whether a new hire sees this new adventure as a temporary fix or a long-term career. These days, new employees are deciding quickly: up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. How do you make the best first impression but still create a productive day for your new hire? Check out our 5 solutions for creating a better onboarding experience:
Solution #1: Have an Onboarding Agenda
The most effective onboarding comes as the result of a consistent, streamlined process. By keeping a written agenda of anything that needs to be completed on the first day or during the first week, you can more easily track what has been completed and schedule out their first week accordingly. This is also a great opportunity to pre-plan any items that can be done before the first day.
Paperwork can be an aspect of the first day, but it should be kept to a minimum in order to give your new team member ample time to get accustomed to the team and workplace. If your employee is a local resident, try to schedule a time for them to come in and meet with human resources prior to their first day in order to complete any new hire paperwork. At Zimmer, we schedule a paperwork day in the week prior to an employee’s start date whenever possible. We utilize this time to also get our new team member’s laptop set up and formally introduce them to any leadership they haven’t met yet.
Solution #2: Keep Communication Open
Preparing for a new hire’s first day usually isn’t a one-person job. Oftentimes, the point of contact for a new team member is going to coordinate everything from paperwork to laptop setup and configuring email. This involves multiple departments and people who have their own responsibilities and commitments outside of onboarding. Communication is key in keeping every aspect of onboarding organized and efficient. There’s nothing worse than having something unexpected sprung on you last minute, so extend the same courtesy to every department by utilizing an email chain or flow chart so that everyone knows when their tasks need to be completed for the first day.
Another method for keeping communication consistent and responsive is to visit each department firsthand to talk briefly about the new hire. This is particularly relevant when there are unique aspects to a new hire, such as whether they have a PC or Mac, where they may be sitting or if they will be able to complete any steps prior to the first day. By taking the time to personally speak with someone in the departments where these aspects may differ from the standard process, you can avoid repetitive back and forth email communication while also finding the best solution.
Solution #3: Build Their First Week Calendar
Often times we get so caught up in the details of the first day for a new team member that we neglect the days that follow. In most cases a new hire is in a state of transition during their first week as they go from training to applying what they have learned. A great method for organizing their first week is to build out their first week calendar prior to the start date. Every item on the schedule may not involve you directly, so by scheduling things out for the week you can lessen the number of questions they may have and allow them to become self-sufficient more quickly. This ties back into our second solution where you can keep communication open: coordinate in-person meetings with every department prior to the first day so that they can have an agenda ready to discuss.
Another asset to having these meetings prescheduled that first week is the opportunity for introductions. Your new team member can familiarize themselves with the different functions of each department and who they may be working with depending on the task or project. This also builds an appreciation early on for each department’s contributions in making your business great!
Solution #4: Make Their First Day Count
This seems like a no-brainer, but a warm welcome is only a small part of what goes into making a first day special. It’s the consistent contributions from everyone that add up to a spectacular first impression for your new hire. Little things, like leaving a welcome card on their desk with positive messages from leadership to giving them a quick tour of the office, can make all the difference between someone treating the role as just another job and fully committing for the long term.
At Zimmer, we like to always help our new team members feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the door. From a warm welcome and a cup of coffee to start their day to a tour of our office for department introductions, we want everyone to feel like they’ve joined the family. An afternoon lunch with the team serves as a chance to chat informally with their coworkers, and an individual end-of-the-day wrap up with their team coach gives them a chance to end the day on a positive note. A simple question about how their day went and how they are feeling shows that you are equally invested in their success.
Solution #5: Send a Welcome Email
While we have already covered department meetings, there are likely other team members who may not interact with your new employee outside of the break room or passing one another down the hall. A few days prior to their start, an intra-office email that includes a picture of the new employee helps everyone put a face with a name. This also makes it more comfortable for employees in other departments to stop by the new hire’s desk and introduce themselves.
If you’d like to take this a step further, include some fun facts about your new team member in that email. It’s an easy way to build connection and break the awkwardness of meeting someone new. Did your new hire relocate from a different state? Maybe they made a big career change when they joined your team, or they really love their dogs. Whatever it is, there’s sure to be common ground within your team and their new coworkers.
With these easy solutions, you can reinvent your onboarding and as a result, greatly increase employee retention. If you’re interested in reading more about company culture and how you can turn your team into leaders within your industry, make sure you subscribe to our blog below!