No one likes feeling like the awkward "new kid" their first day at a new job. Have you ever asked your new hires how they feel during those first days? What new hire orientation ideas and activities do team leaders already (informally) do when a new team member joins? Whether you currently do anything about onboarding new hires or not, onboarding always happens. It'll either happen “naturally” if left to itself, or you can shape it through a structured process. Either way, it will happen, leaving your employees with a good, neutral or maybe even a bad impression of their team and the company.
As we have shown in a previous infographic, successful onboarding is your way to ensure results fast by getting your new hires productive and integrated into your team quickly and smoothly. After all, the numbers don’t lie:
91% of employees were retained, as compared to 30% of employees at organizations without formal onboarding
62% of employees hired in the last 12 months met first performance milestones on time, as compared to 17% among organizations without formal onboarding
While still underrated by many companies, the advantages of putting a formal onboarding program into action are undeniable. And because only a handful companies actually do it, the little steps you take to onboard your new hires can have a great, positive impact.
Plus, most employees decide in 10 days whether they’ll stay at a company or keep looking for another job. So even if you just focus on part of the issue by focusing on that first week, do it. We want to reassure them that they made the right decision on signing a contract with you.
Luckily it’s not as difficult as it might seem to turn these new hire orientation ideas into a doable first week plan. Before you start planning your new employee’s dream first week, there are three main guidelines you should keep in mind:
Be organized and clear – these two things already go a long way to making a great first impression.
Make sure you get everyone involved – onboarding shouldn’t be exclusively an HR or direct manager's task. At the very minimum, your new hire’s entire team should know about their first day in advance.
And last but not least, remember that the first days are all about setting and confirming expectations. It’s time to integrate your new joiners with the real company culture (not make them think that working at your company is something it's not), so make sure to adapt these new hire orientation ideas to what makes sense at your organization!
1. Create an agenda for their first week
Seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to see how many companies forget about this “detail”. Before your new team member even sets foot at the door, make sure you already have a complete schedule of what they’ll be doing that week. This way, you make sure they don’t feel lost or bored – and that you don’t look like you don’t really care about them.
2. Set up a comfortable workplace
Be sure that you’ve set up a comfortable workplace for them before they arrive. That includes setting up their computer, email and other accounts they might need access to in advance, as well as providing any supplies they might need (notebooks, stationery, mug, you name it!). Another idea is making sure they have access to the employee handbook and organizational charts, to make sure they have a better understanding of the company. Either place it on their desks, or on their pocket. ;) By making these kinds of documents available through their smartphone and other devices, new hires can take advantage of idle moments to flip through them, or make quick checks whenever and wherever their question arises.
3. Give them a welcome gift
Giving your new members a little welcome gift is a nice touch to make them really feel welcome. We're thinking just a small welcome token here. It could be as simple as placing a small plant on their work station (even though it might be dead within a month), or providing them with a swag bag. If the norm in the organization is wearing branded shirts, hoodies, or using other cool branded materials, make sure they feel included from day one!
4. Schedule real meetings
Ensure that they have some quality sit-down time with their manager to properly go over expectations and set objectives together. If this meeting doesn’t happen during the first week, the chances of it being forever postponed because of the workload and completely forgotten about are high. Also, schedule in team or project meetings. Of course you don’t want to overwhelm them during their first days, but take advantage of already scheduled meetings to introduce them to teams they’ll be working closely with, for example, instead of the typical "introductory" meetings. It's a great opportunity to see how these teams actually run their projects, the different work styles of the people involved, etc. They might only participate as a spectator during these meetings until they get a better feel for the issues, but they will most likely bring a fresh perspective, contribute new ideas, and raise important questions no one was asking!
5. Set them up with a buddy or mentor
This is a simple and very straightforward way to assure your new hire will always have someone to turn to in times of need. If possible, assign them a mentor from a different department. This will help them develop relationships beyond their team, and also give a different perspective of the organization.
6. Don’t let them eat alone!
It’s already enough pressure starting a new job to also have to worry where and with whom to eat lunch. Don’t let them stress the small stuff! Either take them to lunch and introduce them to your favorite sandwich shop in the neighborhood, or order lunch in for the whole team. Lunchtime is a great moment to talk and bond in a more relaxed environment!
7. Set aside some training time
There might be some very specific software, tools and systems your new hires have to learn about before they can actually start working, so make sure you set time aside for this during the first week. You can also use the training hours as an opportunity to meet people. If it’s a heavily used software, with extensive training, maybe break the training down between different coaches. They'll meet different people, learn how different employees use the system’s tools, and no one on your team will feel pressured to spend endless hours training someone while they still have deadlines to meet.
8) Let them introduce themselves properly
The first week will obviously be filled with countless introductions to countless different people. But it normally takes time until they go from being “the new guy” to being actually recognized by their names. So try to help this process by letting them introduce themselves properly. Have them write an introduction email for example, telling a bit more about themselves, their experiences, hobbies, or whatever is appropriate at your company. New hires unsure what to share? Have your team members do up their own introductions and share them with the newcomer first and serve as inspiration too.
9. Make it fun!
Let’s be honest: a lot of things new employees have to do during their first week are just plain boring, like filling paperwork and going through mandatory trainings. So try to make it a bit more interesting and light. Make these tasks more fun by placing them on a scavenger hunt, for example. Take the pressure off of meeting so many new people by organizing team-building activities.
10. Go beyond the first week
If you put all of these new hire orientation ideas in practice, rest assured that you’ll already doing better onboarding than most companies out there. But be sure you can always do better. Onboarding doesn’t have to start on a new hire’s first day: you can engage them even before, by helping them transition from their old job, and already sharing information about their new position.
And don't forget that new hires on still learning the ropes and integrating beyond their first week. Long-term onboarding processes have better, longer lasting results! So instead of thinking about onboarding as a week (or maybe a month?) process, think about making it even longer. After 6 months of employee-focused onboarding, new hires were 32% less likely to quit. Companies like L’Oreal and IBM have onboarding programs that run for 2 years!
Have you tried any of these new hire orientation ideas before? We'd love to hear what's worked (and what hasn't) in your onboarding process, or when you've started a new job somewhere. Share in the comments below!