How to Make an Amazing First Impression with New Hires

May 1, 2017 | BizRun Team
onboarding, employee retention

While you may not advertise it, you’re evaluating new hires in their first days and weeks to ensure that they’re the best fit for your company and that they measure up to your expectations. But have you stopped to think about how those new hires are also evaluating you? Your newest employees are making up their minds pretty quickly about whether yours is a company they can see themselves working at for a long time – or not.

That being said, the first impression you make on new hires speaks volumes about the kind of company you represent and could very well affect how long your new employee stays with you. Here are some best practices to make your onboarding process the best it can be and start off your new employee relationships on the right foot.

The devil is in the details

It’s shocking that so many companies don’t invest much money or effort at all into the onboarding process, and yet its importance is paramount: studies show that onboarding programs can increase retention by 25%. When you consider that it can cost upwards of $18,000 to fill a position, it only makes sense that you’d invest time in having a thorough onboarding process. When putting yours together, there are some basics that you’ll want to be sure you cover, like:

  • Paperwork that needs to be filled out or signed
  • Review of benefits and company policies
  • Delivery of employee handbook
  • Introduction to staff and tour of office
  • Job or role-specific training

Take some time up front to detail this process up front. Then, you can use it again and again for each new hire with minimal planning on your end.

A personal touch goes a long way

So much effort goes into the HR tasks of onboarding that it’s easy to overlook the personal touches that can reassure a nervous new hire. Send a welcome email with key information before your new hire’s start date. Include any paperwork that she can fill out in advance, so she can get more familiar with your company and ward off some of those first day jitters. Then on her first day, assign a friendly and knowledgeable coworker to give your new hire a tour and introduce her to coworkers throughout the company. To go the extra mile, place a small plant on her desk to make her feel at home.

So does a stocked – and sanitized – work space

When you deliver that thoughtful plant, be sure you also clean and prepare her workspace. The last thing you want is for your new hire to not have a desk or office – or to spend her first day scrubbing and disinfecting the one she’s been assigned. Be sure she has basic office supplies at the ready and as well as printed business cards and any other equipment or information she needs to get settled in. And make sure she knows where to go if she needs something, whether that’s directions to the ladies room or the email address of a key customer contact.

Avoid information overload

There’s a lot of wisdom you need to impart to every new hire, but realize it doesn’t all need to happen on day one. Your new hire will be a bit overwhelmed by simply remembering people’s names and where they sit, so avoid overloading her with company policies and training. If you sent her key company information in advance, good on you! If not, wait until the second or third day to review policies and benefits in detail. Work with her manager to detail a schedule that includes a balance of structure and free time during the first few days.

Plan a welcome lunch

Lunchtime in a brand new company is often an awkward experience. You don’t want your new hire to end up sitting alone in the breakroom or eating at her desk. To prevent this – and give her an opportunity to know her coworkers – enlist a coworker or her manager to coordinate a department or team lunch in advance of her start day.

Assign a point person

An onboarding buddy can give your new hire some added support during her first few weeks. She’ll have a go-to person for questions and might even form a new friendship in the process. Clarify the types of questions that she should address to HR, then encourage her to ask any non-related HR questions of her buddy. When selecting a buddy, skip the department manager and opt instead for a peer or coworker that you think your new hire will relate to and who has a great attitude and knowledge about the company.

Roll out a training plan

Your training plan should begin with a simple orientation on the company and its products or services. This can happen during the first couple days of employment. Once your employee has a few days under her belt, then the real job training can begin. Work with her manager to develop this plan over several weeks, especially if she will have many new or specialized job responsibilities. Give her time to process, practice and develop proficiency before moving to the next thing.

You really can’t wing it or rush things when it comes to the onboarding process. Being thoughtful and deliberate will make your employees feel welcome, valued and set up for success. And that’s the kind of first impression that lasts for the long term.

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