How to Make New Employees Feel Like Old Employees

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For a growing company, few things are as exciting as adding new talent. Each hire—from a summer intern to a new VP—represents more manpower, as well as escalated momentum in the right direction. Across industries, hiring managers within organizations develop and execute thoughtful hiring processes to ensure they attract the perfect fit for each position. But too often, the job is considered done once contracts are signed and a start date is set.

At many smaller companies it can feel like there’s little attention left to give to an employee’s first day on the job. While this is understandable, especially for managers at small businesses and startups who are already pulled in a million directions, the absence of an established onboarding process holds real consequences—especially when it comes to younger employees.

Millennials, according to Gallup, are the “least engaged generation” when it comes to work. Over the course of one year, millennials left their current job at a rate three times higher than non-millennials, and 60 percent are open to different job opportunities. Effective onboarding helps address this growing norm, as it can increase new-hire retention by up to 50 percent.

An employee’s first day on the job does not have to be defined by awkward introductions, hand-offs and an office tour that concludes with an invitation to “flip through the company handbook to get started.” Developing an onboarding approach that works for your company requires a small amount of time for enormous reward. Here are some techniques to start the process:

1. Decide who’s responsible. Proper onboarding is often overlooked because no one thinks it is their direct responsibility, especially at a small organization without a dedicated HR department. Hiring teams are concerned with, well, hiring, and everyone else is often too consumed with their work to consider a new person’s first day. Gather all relevant parties—including the new employee’s supervisor and team members, as well as company management—to decide how and who will be welcoming the new addition. Ask your staff to start to identify projects and assignments the new employee can get started with on their first day to ensure a smooth transition into the role.

2. Plan out the day. Once the onboarding team is in place, ensure there is a plan established before the new employee arrives. We have all experienced a first day where no one is quite sure what to have you do, since no one really gave it much thought. Schedule trainings, introductory meetings, a first day lunch or coffee. Print out a copy of the day’s events and distribute it to the new employee and everyone who will play a role in the day.

3. Have fun. First days are exciting for you, but usually nerve-wracking for the new hire. Stand out, and make new employees feel welcome with traditions that will become beloved by all. Decorate their desk or provide them with a hand-written personalized note from the company CEO. One of the fun perks at Clyde Group is that we have an in-office Nerf gun arsenal, and so we give each of our new employees a Nerf gun on their first day of work – it’s at their desk when they arrive, along with a note welcoming them to the team.

4. Have lunch. Or breakfast, or coffee, or happy hour – whatever makes sense for your team. And don’t just order lunch in for the office, but set aside time for the whole office to gather together, enjoy a meal, and get to know their newest team member. At my office, we like to play “two truths and a lie” so the new employee can hear funny and embarrassing stories about their new coworkers, and so we can get to know them a little better as an individual. There are few things as unifying as self-deprecation, and few games that do that as well as “two truths and a lie.”

Designing an effective onboarding process doesn’t have to be a daunting task, but it is vital to your company’s culture, morale, and ultimately, performance. Take the time to thoughtfully welcome new members of your team. The investment is worth it.

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