First day of work
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How to give new employees the best first day ever

2 Feb 2017

Do you remember the best first day of work you ever had? What about the worst? As a manager, it’s up to you to make sure each new employee has a successful and happy first day.

Onboarding is an extremely important part of an employee’s company experience. Even on their last day, they will more than likely remember their first, good or bad.

While this day might stand out in an employee’s mind, it can often be overlooked by the company they’re coming to work for.

The first day gives a new employee a snapshot of what the company will be like to work for. It could be the difference between them going home and saying, ‘I love my new job’ and ‘I wonder how long I have to stay before I look for a new job’.

Here are a few tips on how to enhance your onboarding process to make your new employee’s first day the best it can be.

Have everything ready

This seems basic, but it’s still something you have to remember to do before a new employee starts. You don’t want them arriving with a computer that has no credentials, a phone that doesn’t work yet or no swipe card to get in and out of the building.

You also need to give yourself enough time to sort everything out. It all might feel very organised getting the elements together for your new employee before they even arrive – until there’s a problem with the computer that can’t be fixed in time.

Make sure you iron out any problems in the week before they are due to start. You should also advise them to come in an hour later than their normal start time to give you a chance to set everything up.

You should also minimise paperwork on the first day. This means separating all of the admin into three categories: things that can be done beforehand, things that have to be done on the day itself and things that can be left for later in the week.

Make proper social introductions

This does not mean parading your new employee around 17 desks and introducing them to a huge number of new faces and names before parking them at their own desk.

Aside from how impersonal that can feel, it can be daunting for your new employee to try and remember all of those names, and it doesn’t create a proper introduction to your current employees.

Consider introducing them to people gradually throughout the day so they’re not overwhelmed. You should also consider organising a company lunch that day to ensure the new employee gets a chance to properly socialise with his or her new team.

Assign a mentor

Many managers leave the onboarding process to themselves or the HR department, but you should involve your whole team when it comes to making sure the new employee feels welcome.

They should know about the employee’s arrival so they can be aware of making sure he or she feels welcome on their first day. They also might have ideas that you hadn’t thought of for giving the new employee a positive experience.

You should also assign a mentor or ‘buddy’ to the new employee. That mentor should give them any further tours around the building or area, take them to lunch for their first week and find out a bit more about them. Make sure the new employee knows if they have any questions, they can ask their mentor.

Have a development plan in place

The onboarding process isn’t just about the first day. Most employees aren’t fully integrated into a new company for a full year, so you should have a plan in place for that length of time.

This means having review dates in place, as well as general training and integration planning for the new hire.

Think about how confident your current employees are in what they do. Decide that you would like your new employee to be just as comfortable in 12 months’ time. Map out a plan to train them fully within those 12 months.

Have a welcome gift

Depending on your company, your welcome gift could be anything from personalised stationery or a branded hoodie, to a book that encapsulates the vibe of the company, or even simply a small hamper of sweets.

Having a gift waiting for a new employee on their desk will make them feel special and appreciated. It doesn’t have to be a massive swag bag full of stuff that costs a bomb; it simply has to be something for them to take home from their first day. A personal note welcoming them to the company will be an extra touch.

Check in

When it’s almost home time, be sure to check in with them. Don’t just ask them, ‘How was your first day?’, as this will most likely bring about the simple response of ‘fine’ or ‘good’ without any real insight.

Make sure you find out if they got to meet everyone, if they know where everything is, and if they feel confident about what they will be doing tomorrow.

Checking in on your new employees will go beyond the first day. Check in again at the end of the first week, the first month, and schedule a few reviews for the rest of the year to keep an eye on how they’re getting on.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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