You’ve hired the perfect person to join your team. He passed all the tests, he has a good spirit that fits your team’s, and you’ve waited long enough to let him quit his previous job and maybe even take some days off… He’s about to join your company in a few days. Finally!
Like in every relationship, the first impression counts. If you want him to become a strong asset, you have to anticipate his first days in the company and feel him welcome.
Note: This blog post is written with masculine pronouns but it also applies to non-masculine coworkers of course. I didn't manage to write it in a gender neutral way without loosing the meaning. Sorry for the inconvenience…
Be sure he’ll land in a nice environment
Prepare his working setup
A decent computer (not the one that has been left unused in the cupboard for years) with a screen and any required external devices, a desk, a chair… Every common tool must be ready right when your new teammate is joining the company. It can sound very basic, but I’ve seen onboardings where newcomers had to wait for a day to have their computer, or they have no personal desk and they had to share it with someone else…
You should also create all the accounts your new employee will need: email, calendar, and other online tools he’s likely to use in his first days.
If your company has goodies, you can create a nice box with several stickers, candies, coffee mug, t-shirt, or whatever your company has… and put it on his desk like a present for his arrival. He’ll be more likely to feel part of the team.
If you add a plant into this welcome gift, he can immediately decorate his empty desk and make it warmer.
Plan his first weeks meetings
Because you already created the required email account, your new coworker is now part of your IS. You can invite him to meetings so he’ll be able to know how his first days will look like.
Create moments to discover the job
Explain your business and the product
During the recruitment process, the candidate certainly got interested in your company. He read your website, searched for articles about you, and he asked questions during the interview. He knows the basics of the business, but now he’s part of the company, he needs to deeply understand how it works.
During the first days, you should spend time with him to make sure your mission is well understood, present the products you’re selling and explain some business rules that are not that obvious from an external point of view.
You can also provide him a glossary with the specific terms of your business. So he can refer to it when he encounters concepts he’s not familiar with.
Present the organization
Soon or later, your new coworker will have to know how your company is structured, either because he ears about someone else during a conversation, or because he needs to ask for help from someone from another department.
Therefore, you should present how your company is structured, and explain the mission of the teams and departments which compose it. Those presentations are not necessarily done right on the first day, and they can be spread across the first month.
It would be even better to make other departments present themselves, and not necessarily by a manager. So that they also know your team has a new member and can share this information across the whole company.
Prepare some work he can do right away so he can feel efficient
It is very rewarding to feel useful for your new company, even if it’s just small tasks. If you followed the recommendations from the previous paragraphs, his calendar has certainly a lot of meetings planned, but you should keep some free space for actual work too.
Speaking as a developer, coding his what I like to do and what I get hired for. That’s why I find it great to be able to code on my first day. Pair programming can be a good practice to put into your onboarding process as it allows the newcomer to do practical work and to work side by side with a teammate.
Give him a warm welcome
Be sure there will be someone to hold the door for him
On his first day, he will certainly want to give a good impression and arrive right on time or even a bit earlier. So it’s not the good day for you to arrive late and let him wait for you. If for any reason you can’t welcome him, make sure someone will be able to do it and communicate to your new coworker the name of his host.
The week before he arrive, you can also share his name and picture in the office. So that when someone will meet him in the office, he’ll be recognized as part of your team, and not mingled with the delivery guy or the plumber.
Dedicate time with the team
The arrival of a new member can be a great opportunity for you to organize a nice moment with the team like bringing some pastries or croissants (sorry I’m French) for breakfast, or organizing a lunch.
More complex team building activities can be considered, but you should plan it few weeks after the arrival, so that he can adapt his schedule depending on his external obligations.
Another idea can be offering to meet him, for lunch or a drink, the week before his arrival. Then he’ll already know the names and faces of all his team members on his first day.
Ask for feedback
When you plan an onboarding, you’re usually well-establish into the company, and some obvious things for you can be completely obscure from the outside. Therefore, you should provide you new employee a way to give you feedback on the process.
If you ask for a simple rating, you might not get the more relevant input. That’s why I recommend you to create a form with open questions, that let your new teammate express himself. If you have a online documentation for the onboarding, you should give him the edit access, so he can improve it right when he encounter anomalies. It is a way to show you trust him, and let him contribute to your company’s processes.
This article has been based on practices I encountered or I missed in my own experience. You should adapt them depending on your company’s profile: if you’re part of a Fortune 500 company, with offices spread all over the world, you won’t onboard the same way a small 3 person startup will do. However, don’t forget that people usually likes to feel awaited when they join a new organization.
Do you have other good practices in your company ? Feel free to share them too.