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3 Thoughtful Ways to Welcome New Employees the Right Way

April 26, 2018
9 min read
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From encouraging employees to speak up to help them get to know each other, organizations certainly have tried to create an ultimate cheatsheet of employment engagement ideas that their team will love. The same goes for the new hires.

Take yourself back to your first day at the office. Didn’t you have mixed feelings? From excited to motivated and edgy to hopeful, you must have had all kinds of butterflies in your stomach. The new job jitters are for real.

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As a new hire, you have HR handbooks to read, a company culture to observe, co-workers to meet, orientations to attend and superiors to impress. The thought of being new and unfamiliar with the environment adds to the anxiety too. Not only you don’t know many people yet, you might also not know how to do your work. There is this very vague idea of what to expect from yourself or the organization until a few weeks pass by.

By now, you got to feel three emotions altogether – intimidated, anxious and overwhelmed. The stress level has skyrocketed. But, as a new hire, you also hope to create a strong and positive connection with your new team.

Fast forward to today and see yourself with your HR team. What a great opportunity to not let your new hires be in the same position of feeling anxious, intimidated and overwhelmed! You can help them escape the boat you were in, some years back. Don’t you think that if you ease their worries, make them feel comfortable and empowered, there is going to be a big difference in their level of engagement and participation? There certainly is going to be a different attitude at work, if only they get a thoughtful initial experience.

Also, who doesn’t want a new team member to brag about how amazing is their new organization to their family members or friends? As an organization that has a new hire, you’ll certainly want to make that first impression where you welcome new team members, their ideas, and individualities with warmth and acceptance.

Besides most of the organizations want to onboard new hires in the best way possible, they do not really assess their onboarding process, let alone improve it. However, the need to make it count is certainly acknowledged.

The major problems observed in the usual new employee onboarding processes are:

  • Considering onboarding as a one day process
  • Onboarding process is too job-function focused
  • Too formal to be comfortable with
  • Challenges with role clarity
  • Too focused on the big stuff
  • Challenges with communicating the company/department culture
  • Your team doesn’t have time to help with employee onboarding
  • Lack of manager involvement
  • Information under/overload
  • You new employee onboarding doesn’t represent reality

The good news is that you can create an unforgettable onboarding experience if you improve certain things in your existing process. Down here, we have put a list of the best practices that solve some (if not all) of the above-mentioned flaws that are observed in the traditional onboarding process. We have divided the onboarding process in three stages:

  1. Communicating the company culture
  2. Introducing them to their team, various departments and the office layout
  3. Gearing them toward a realistic understanding of their role

You can keep these 3 thoughtful ways to welcome new employees the right way close by and you’ll start seeing the results in no time.

1. Start deliberate conversations about your company culture

company culture

There would hardly be an organization that has not defined its core values and culture. If your organization hasn’t yet, you absolutely must define them. Having that said, from being able to communicate team management tips to actually apply them on day-to-day basis, managers are really good at communicating the cut-and-dry topics like policies, tasks, procedures, and projects. How difficult is it to say – “Step one, do this. Step two, do that,” after all? It becomes even easier when you use a project management software where you can define tasks, milestones, timesheets and much more.

However, when we try and talk about squishier topics or say softer topics like culture, vision, mission, and values, we don’t really succeed at turning them alive in front of the new employees. The unspoken pulse of the organization, however, has to be spoken. But how do you do that? – You live the squishy topics and start deliberate conversations about your company culture.

You can tell the new hires how your (and now their too) particular department plays a major role in impacting the mission statement of the organization. And, why not mention how your department is responsible for the kind of customer experience the organization aims to give? Once you do this, you’d certainly observe the new hires being keen to share how they think their role is going to take shape according to the company culture, mission, and values. Don’t forget to keep it an open conversation where inputs are welcomed. Also, such conversations shall be encouraged from time to time. Maybe, each time you have team-wide meetings, be it weekly or monthly.

2. Introduce them to the team members, various departments, and office layout in a fun way

 team member introduction

Not having enough time to spend with the new hires is not an option. As a Hiring Manager or even a manager of any other department, you have to take out time from your busy schedule and introduce the new hire to the team. From scavenger hunt activities to pushing their joining date to the day you have team-wide meetings, you can do it all. It’s important for them to meet every department head to understand the roles and responsibilities of each. A race around to the different departments in the quest for items on their list will certainly make them feel more acquainted not only with the office layout but also with the people they will be working with.

We, at ProofHub, organize scavenger hunts via the software itself. We provide with clues that can be searched for on individual’s profiles or we tell them to seek out information hidden in discussions, tasks or even notes. This certainly helps us to kill two birds with one stone. Not only they understand the value of team collaboration at the workplace, they also get familiar with the software we use for communication.

As far as getting the newbie familiar with the office layout is concerned, you can assign them a buddy for the day. They can ask their buddy whereabouts like – where to park, where to get a cup of coffee, where is the restroom, conference room and whichever space they need to know about.

Gear them toward the realistic understanding of their role and responsibilities

Orientation programs are certainly one way to review the job description with a fine-toothed comb in front of the new hires. However, today, a list of tasks and responsibilities may not be enough for the employees to understand their specific role in the organization. Undoubtedly, onboarding isn’t complete without orientation programs. But at the same time, you should direct the newbies toward the realistic understanding of their role. Not only they’ll be confident, they’ll also adjust quickly.

While your orientation programs may already include factual information like pay and benefits, reviewing company procedures and rules, and the complete paperwork, they may not establish milestones and goals for the new employee. Time has come when the onboarding process shall also focus on the key skills the employee is expected to possess. As a Hiring Manager, you have to plan an orientation program that has objectives. You may outline the specific skills and also the key competencies of the role. Furthermore, you can also set examples of how the new employees are going to achieve those goals and also measure the outcome.

“How is this going to help,” we hear you ask. A well-structured and well-planned approach of putting across the clear objectives and goals of their role is going to increase employee engagement, improve performance and even reduce turnover rates. For almost a month, we kept this way of onboarding as our pilot experiment too. The team members who were given a clear outline of what is required and how to achieve that were not less than 100% productive two months earlier than those who were not given the same. Eventually, we now have made this a thumb rule to communicate the key skills required and the goals to achieve on the first day itself.

Final Thoughts

While it will be thoughtful to communicate the company culture, introduce to the team, office layout, and other departments in a fun way, at the same time, it may also feel like a frenzy of activities to them. Do not go overboard with the information. You will certainly be guilty of the ‘onboarding tornado’ later on. Retaining information in a short period of time is impossible. There always be much more that they’ll need to learn too. To save your new hires from entering a frantic whirlwind in the beginning and then just observe a radio silence later on, you can spread out your orientation over months. Start treating onboarding of new employees as a gradual process – step by step, meeting by meeting, and this intentional behavior will certainly build a strong workplace dynamic that will benefit the entire team.

Happy thoughtful onboarding!

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