There are few milestone days in a person's life. Graduations, weddings, and retirements are a few examples of days that deserve punctuation. 

Another milestone day is starting a new job, especially if it's your first full-time job. The combination of new work, new people, and new places creates an opportune window for companies to create a lasting and impactful moment for new employees

Many employers trade familiarity for memorability and new hire loyalty, appreciation, and engagement is the cost.

Too often the first-day experience for new hires starts like this: The new hire arrives without clear direction of where to park or who to meet, they finally connect with someone who vaguely remembers hearing that someone was starting today, and then they are ushered to a random empty desk and instructed to "get settled in." 

Day one and the new hire has already begun planning a quick exit. For the employer, a huge opportunity wasted.

For Generation Z, their first day at work might be their first day of full-time work ever. And firsts are memorable, especially when you're the age of Gen Z (currently 21 years old and younger).

Research shows people's most vivid memories are drawn from when they were 16 to 25 years old. Psychologists call this phenomenon the "reminiscence bump." The reason we remember our youth so well is because it's a time of firsts: a first romantic relationship, first time traveling without parents, first paycheck, etc.

Employers have a unique opportunity to be etched into Gen Z's memory and play a critical role (good or bad) in their career story.

First-day experiences and onboarding should be filled with remarkable moments, not bureaucratic activities on a checklist

Not only does creating a memorable experience create a lasting impression and instill employee loyalty, but it also encourages employees to recommend their employer.

A study of hotel reviews on TripAdvisor found that, when guests reported experiencing a "delightful surprise," an astonishing 94 percent of them expressed an unconditional willingness to recommend the hotel, compared with only 60 percent of guests who were "very satisfied."

How do you know if the experiences are memorable? If Gen Z feels the need to pull out their camera to capture the moment, it's memorable.

After their first day, Gen Z employees should leave thinking...

  • I belong here
  • The work matters
  • I matter to them
     

Beyond the first day and onboarding, it's a good practice to deliver memorable moments during any employee transitions (promotion, retirement, move, etc.).

Keep an eye out for the moments that need punctuation.

Published on: Jun 3, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.