From a legal standpoint, an employee’s first day is the date at which they begin providing their services to a business in exchange for remuneration. However, it often means much more than this, both for the employee and the business. It can be the point at which your new member of staff forms long-lasting impressions that will affect their entire relationship with your organization.
Why Successful First Days Matter
Creating a positive experience on your employee’s first day has numerous benefits. These include:
Making sure the employee feels welcome
For many people, starting a new job can be one of life’s most nerve-wracking experiences. By fostering a safe and welcoming environment, you can help ease these nerves.
Laying the groundwork for strong employee relations
If an employee’s first day runs smoothly, this can be the first step towards ensuring they have a productive relationship with your organization. Further down the line, these feelings of heightened engagement can lead to improved productivity and higher staff retention.
You can make sure you’re both on the same page
As well as allowing you to outline your employee’s day-to-day responsibilities in more detail, a first day can provide your new hires with the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
Planning Ahead: Before the First Day
If you want to increase the chances of your employee having a successful first day, you should begin the preparation as soon as they have formally accepted your offer of employment. Here are some steps you can take:
Send a welcome packet
Once your new team member has accepted the position, it’s a good idea to send out a letter welcoming them to the organization and provide them with a copy of your employee handbook.
Doing so will create a strong first impression of your company’s level of professionalism and can also provide a point of contact who can address any queries or concerns.
Send onboarding paperwork in advance
By sending any onboarding paperwork to your new employee before their first day, you can give them the opportunity to read these important documents at their own pace. Many employees will feel rushed if they are asked to sign documents in the office on their first day.
As part of this paperwork, you should also include instructions on how your new employee can register with payroll. Ensuring your people are compensated on time is one of the most effective ways to create a good first impression of your organization.
Ready required technology
In order to give the right first impression, try to make sure all the employee’s technology is up and running before their first day. For instance, the employee should have a computer already installed at their workstation and a fully operational email address.
Ensure they can get into the office
Before your employee’s start date, you should provide them with any details they may need about parking and arrange a permit, if necessary. Likewise, you should organize security clearance and make sure staff working on your reception desk are aware that you have a new hire starting.
The First Day: Top Tips for Success
While the exact structure of your employee’s first day will depend on the nature of your organization and the role your new employee is filling, following the tips below can help ensure the first day runs smoothly.
Have someone available to meet them at the reception desk
You can create a welcoming environment by ensuring that someone is waiting to meet your new hire as soon as they arrive at your offices. This person could be a member of the new employee’s team, their direct manager, or a representative from HR.
Give your new employee an office tour
Becoming familiar with the office layout is an essential part of helping new hires feel settled. As well as taking them on a tour of the office, you might want to point out local amenities such as popular places to have lunch. Remember to draw attention to any restricted areas that new hires may need a security pass to enter.
Introduce the new hire to their team
Helping a new employee feel at ease with the people they’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis is one of the most important ingredients of a successful first day.
Consider organizing a time for everyone to meet in one place, perhaps over a coffee. Also, try to reassure your new employee that there isn’t a requirement to remember everybody’s names or specific job titles on the first day.
Offer a team lunch
Catering a lunch with other members of the team is another great way to make an employee feel welcome in your business. Depending on the size of your organization, you may want to invite the entire company, department, or the employee’s immediate team.
Provide health and safety training
Whether it’s on your employee’s first day or within their first few days, it is crucially important that you make them aware of any health and safety requirements relating to their workplace or role. You should, for instance, explain your accident prevention protocols, identify health and safety officers, and point out emergency exit routes.
Providing health and safety training in a language your employees understand is a legal requirement as set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Health and safety training may be especially important if your employee is working with any potentially dangerous equipment as part of their new role.
Arrange a meeting with their manager
Most new employees are anxious to know what their new boss will be like. To start the relationship off on the right footing, it’s sensible to organize a meeting between new hires and their direct managers on their first day.
Although the meeting should cover the broader responsibilities and expectations of the role, it is also a good idea to keep the mood light and not inundate the new employee with information that they may soon forget.
Provide basic training
While you don’t want to overwhelm your new hire on their first day, it could be a good idea to kick off any training relevant to their new role. Remember that your employee will likely feel nervous and may not be in the best frame of mind to retain new information. As such, you may want to leave more technical elements of training until they are a little more settled.
Check in at the end of the day
Before the new hire leaves for the day, try to catch up with them to see how the first day went and reassure them that you are happy to have them on the team. Remind your employee that there aren’t any silly questions and that they should raise any issues they have, however minor they may appear.
First Days for Remote Workers
While many companies and their employees have embraced remote working, this model can bring additional challenges when welcoming employees on their first day. Despite our best intentions, it can be more difficult to get to know people over video conferencing software. Furthermore, there may be an increased likelihood of technical problems without a member of tech support being physically present to help with any issues.
Nevertheless, many of the techniques above can still apply to remote workers. While you may not be able to have a team lunch in a local restaurant, you could organize a remote gathering to welcome your new hire. You could, for example, arrange for your team to have a coffee or even eat lunch together over a video call.
It is also helpful to provide your employees with a point of contact who is solely dedicated to helping new hires on their first days with any technical issues they may come across. You could do this by providing a direct number for a named member of technical support staff. Many employees will find this more helpful than calling a switchboard on their first day. Alternatively, you could arrange a video call at a set time on the employee’s first day to check in with them and answer any technical queries they may have.
The Buddy System
While business leaders and HR professionals are key to ensuring a new employee settles into your organization, it could also be helpful to assign your new members of staff an onboarding buddy.
A great advantage of the buddy system is that it can be conducted either remotely or in person. The buddy can be another member of the team in a comparable role and of a similar level of seniority to your new employee. As well as potentially having a less formal relationship with your new member of staff, these buddies may be more familiar with the particular role-specific questions your new employee may have.
Try asking the buddy for input on how to make your new employee’s first day a success, perhaps drawing on their own experiences of what went well and what could have been improved.
Having a successful first day has numerous benefits both for an employee and a business. And although your employee will no doubt feel nervous, you can calm these feelings by putting in the time and effort to ensure they have all the information they need on their first day. Above all else, it helps to remind your employee that you are pleased to have them on board and expect to have a long and fruitful working relationship.
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