Companies spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours finding and recruiting the right talent. Yet, many of these same companies then throw new employees into the deep end of their business hoping they'll swim and not sink.
1. Let your team know.
Too many times I've seen a new person show up for the first day of work and nobody knows who they are let alone that they are a new hire. Make sure you have a system in place to announce the new hire and the role they are filling. Include a photo and a short bio as well.
2. Send them the org chart.
Generally, I'm not a fan of publishing org charts, but for new employees, an org chart can be a great help. It gives them a map to understand who is in what role and which department. Include photos with the names so they can connect faces to names and recognize people then they meet them.
3. Have their space ready.
People need a sense of place and personal space to feel at home. Even if you know you'll be making changes to offices and seats, make sure they have a place to sit on day one. Make sure they have a computer, internet access, and logins to do basic tasks. Including personal items like a coffee mug, reusable water bottle, office key, and a box of tissues is a nice touch and shows you are thinking about their needs.
4. Don't swamp them with paperwork.
Spending your first day sitting at a desk, filling out paperwork is a rough way to start. Instead, I suggest making day one about meeting people and getting familiar with the layout and facilities. People need to feel oriented, welcomed, and connected to other people in order to feel settled. Give them a tour, take them to lunch, show them around. If they have paperwork, send them home early to fill it out there.
5. Give them a checklist.
Showing up for your first day and being dragged around and handed off from person to person with no clue what's going on, who you're meeting, and how long it's going to take is disorienting. Create an agenda and a checklist for what activities and tasks they will be completing over the first few days and weeks. You can even let them track their progress and manage their own onboarding.
6. Have them come in late.
If people trickle into your office at different times, have new people come in mid-morning. That way everyone has answered their urgent emails, has had a cup of coffee, and is ready to start the day. Having a new employee come in and then wait for people to get ready to greet them does not make a good first impression.
7. Send them home early.
Starting a new job and meeting lots of new people can be a little overwhelming and tiring. Sending a new employee home mid-afternoon gives them a chance to process and recover from the day. If they have lots of paperwork to complete or policies to review, they can take it home and bring it back completed for the next day.
8. Give them a map.
One of the key parts of onboarding is orientation and getting people familiar with their surroundings. Include a map of the office so that new employees can see who sits where, which department is on what floor, where the bathrooms are, and where they get food and water. But don't stop there, give them a map of the surrounding area highlighting the best places to get lunch, the local pharmacy, coffee shops, and where to park.
9. Assign them a buddy.
Assign them someone they can ask questions and check in with regularly. Ideally this is someone who joined the organization in the last 12 months and remembers what it's like to be new. Have them check in every day the first week and then weekly for a month or two.
10. Create an FAQ.
A new employee FAQ can be a simple and effective way to cover standard questions that come up. These are easy to start: just make a blank document and on your next new hire, record all of their questions and write down your answers. Have each new employee read this and then add new questions and answers as they come up.
People are the most valuable asset in most companies, yet we tend to assume they will take care of themselves. Taking the time and energy to plan an onboarding process will set people up for success and will create long-term loyalty, an investment well-worth making.