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First day at work: how to get new employees off to a flying start

By Silke
05 Sep 2022

Make it a first day to remember: original ideas to welcome your new joiner.

First impressions count

We’ve all been through it: the first day at a new job. You stand there, dressed in your smartest outfit, hands clammy from the stress and eyes wide with enthusiasm. That phase has since passed, but you’ll never forget the first impression you got of your new employer. That first impression had a big impact on how you went home. 

Now it’s you welcoming those nervous new employees. Already developed an onboarding process? Looking for extra tips and tricks or concrete ways to organise the first day at work for your new recruits? This blog will get you started in no time. 

Groepsfoto met glazen

A warm welcome

A warm welcome on their first day works wonders. Extend that welcome from the reception area right to your new employee’s desk. Even nicer when it’s a familiar face from the interview process doing that welcome and initial intro­duc­tion. That’s at least one less new name they’ll need to learn!

  • The evening before, send a text or email to the new starter with a short message like we’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!’
  • Any screens near the office entrance? Display a welcome message to greet newcomers upon arrival. Make sure you don’t display any photos without the employee’s permission. A personal message makes all the difference!
  • Not everyone loves to be the center of attention. Don’t let your warm welcome become too over­whelm­ing and give new recruits time to get used to their new workplace.
  • Decorating the newbie’s desk has become a bit of a classic. It’s slightly more difficult to create a lasting memory when people are hot desking, but an onboarding package with per­son­alised items is always a winner. You can also provide seeds and other supplies so that your new employee can grow together with their own desk plant. (Make sure both get plenty of water, though.))

You can never go wrong with a physical welcome gift. Our gift partner Rituals has been using this top tip for a while now. During onboarding, their new employees receive two gifts: one to keep for themselves and one to give away. Because it’s better to give than to receive. In 2021, Rituals was named the most customer-friendly company in the Nether­lands. And as they always treat their employees like their very best customers, both customer and employee are king.

Ice breakers

Humans are social beings that need contact. Especially on their first day at work. Your new starter won’t be able to remember everyone’s name yet, but funny anecdotes and friendly intro­duc­tions will stick! As an employer, it’s a good idea to try and encourage this.

  • A guess who?’ game for the whole team is a fun way for everyone to get to know each other. 
  • An idea that’s very popular in the Nether­lands: a jar of sweets on the new starter’s desk. An extra incentive for the rest of the team to come and have a chat with your new employee. And a quick way to break the ice. 
  • Speaking of food, on your first day at Kadonation you’re guaranteed a pizza lunch. Taking time to eat together creates a relaxed atmosphere where everyone can swap stories.
  • In the first few weeks, there’s a lot of intro­duc­to­ry meetings to plan in. To make this a bit more active, you could try organising simple walk-and-talk meetings. This is a quick way for the newcomer to get to know the area around the office.
  • Plan a coffee chat with the last 5 people to join your organ­i­sa­tion. They may have different back­grounds, but they were all recently the newbie’. Who knows what insights or funny stories this will reveal.
Schermafbeelding 2022-08-17 om 17.47.18

Support

A new employee needs support, and not just on their first day. You might want to introduce something like a buddy system. A buddy is your new team member’s go-to person, someone who already knows the written and unwritten rules of the company and can take the new starter under their wing. The buddy is also their first point of contact for questions and someone they can easily share any problems with. A bonus tip: treat the new starter and their buddy to a nice lunch in week two!

Although supporting a new starter shouldn’t turn into holding their hand, it’s nice for them to already have their first few days planned out. Meeting people outside of their team can also be part of this. This gives the new joiner a broader under­stand­ing of the organ­i­sa­tion. But be careful not to completely fill up their calendar with meetings. You also want to make sure the new employee can get some work done. Some starters enjoy being able to add value right from day one. 

Checklist

Onboarding

Would you like to give your new colleague a warm welcome and get him or her ready to make a lasting con­tri­bu­tion to the future of your organ­i­sa­tion? This onboarding checklist sets out all the steps in a row! Good luck with it!
Download now

Tips & tricks

Chances are your new hire doesn’t know the area around your office. So it’s a nice idea to give them an overview of the local hotspots. Where’s the best place to get a sandwich (minus the queues)? Where’s the nearest pharmacy or the cheapest petrol station? Is there a nice park for lunch or getting some exercise? Use the added value of your office sur­round­ings as an extra bonus on top of the working atmosphere!

While we’re on the topic of lists, a descrip­tion of the company’s various go-to people is also useful. Think broader than the tra­di­tion­al organ­i­sa­tion­al structure. Who do you need to tell if you’re sick or want to request a holiday? Who should you contact if you have a technical problem with your laptop, etc?

Our final tip is for larger companies who are scaling fast. Group onboarding’ is often used when several new employees are hired each month. By getting all the new starters together and supporting them with a general programme, you imme­di­ate­ly create a bond between the newcomers. But be careful that this style of onboarding doesn’t become impersonal or make new recruits feel less special.

As a business, it’s best to avoid the being treated like a number’ feeling by giving teams other ways to welcome their new starter. Eating cake together, for example. Or the management team making sure they’ve spoken to each new joiner over lunch or during a coffee break. Being able to address the new starter by their name is a common courtesy and very much appre­ci­at­ed.

Cheers

Remote new starters

Last but not least: what about new starters who’ll be working remotely? Well, you’ll need to make some changes to your onboarding process. They’re probably very familiar with their home office, which makes it even more important to make their first day special and send them a welcome pack too. For staff abroad, a box full of delicious local delicacies is a nice gesture. Or provide a per­son­alised new starter pack that imme­di­ate­ly makes a company ambassador out of your new employee.

To bring the office atmosphere to your remote new starter, organising an online quiz or online escape room can be a great ice breaker. Or work together live’ by video calling your new colleague on a second screen. This is a good way to bring remote workers closer together.

Investing time and effort in successful onboarding certainly pays off. However, onboarding doesn’t stop after your new colleague’s first day. It’ll take quite some time before they get into the swing of things and feel like a full member of the team. The entire onboarding process often takes six months and sometimes even longer. Worth investing in as an employer. Kadonation has created a free handy checklist to help you give your employees an unfor­get­table start.

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