Help New Employees Get Off to a Good Start
Have you ever started a new job with enthusiasm, only to be told on arrival, “Go read the manual”? No guidance, no orientation, no passwords, sometimes even no computer. Miserable!
Other turnoffs for new employees include no work area assigned, no introductions to co-workers, and leaving the employee behind when everyone else heads out for lunch. Oh, and sitting through a day or two of mind-numbing orientation presentations.
When there’s no formal plan for helping new employees get started, those first few days can be mighty awkward. This formal plan—or onboarding, as it’s sometimes called—refers to the process by which new employees become oriented and gain the background, knowledge, and skills to work effectively as members of the team and the organization.
You can start integrating a new employee even before day one. One company, H.Bloom, sends the employee an electronic welcome package of information about the company, such as its history, core values, and recent press clippings, as well as information on what the employee should expect the first day, week, and month. Then, the night before, the employee’s supervisor calls to make sure the person knows where and when to show up. Even if you, as a new employee, knew where and when to show up, wouldn’t it be nice to be contacted like this?
The key to making a new employee feel welcome is to truly welcome the person. Prepare a checklist of everything that needs to happen before and when the employee arrives. Have everything ready and waiting for the person. Strive for a day that’s focused at least as much on meeting people as on paperwork and HR meetings. But don’t plan a lot of hoopla; some people are hoopla-averse and may not find such “rah-rah-rah” welcoming.
Once day one has come and gone, it may be a good idea for the manager to schedule regular meetings with the employee over the coming weeks or months to ensure everything relevant is addressed. This may include introductions, discussion about such things as the corporate culture, a review of the mystifying org chart, and issues pertinent to team activities and responsibilities. All this, of course, is in addition to the conversations that need to take place regarding the individual’s specific duties and responsibilities.
It’s also a wise idea to assign the new employee a more experienced employee or a mentor, someone who has no reporting relationship to the new employee. This person can help the employee with the whys and wherefores that inevitably arise as the employee gets adjusted. Ideally, such a person could call the new employee before the start date to become acquainted with him or her.
Dilbert’s workplace isn’t the most welcoming for new employees. You can do better!