“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” ~ Stephen R. Covey ~
When most employers think of “on boarding” new employees, they typically have a list of to do’s focused on paperwork, meeting the staff, an office tour, vision statement and other tasks. What is usually left to last or totally ignored is a plan that focuses on making the employee feel welcome, appreciated and part of the organization’s culture as soon as possible. While most organizations have thought out and mastered the technical part, few do the appreciation and welcome part very well. An organization only has one chance to make a good first impression with the new hire and the first few days will leave a lasting impression. Organizations such as Southwest Airlines excel at making new employees feel welcome, which is reflected in their high stats of employee loyalty and retention. This is also reflected in the bottom line.
Here are 5 things an organization can do to make a new hire feel welcome and appreciated:
Have a welcome strategy in place
From management down, everyone directly involved with a new hire could have a role in making the new person feel welcome. Everyone should be asked these questions, “What was it like for you on your first day, your first week? What could others have done to make you feel more comfortable, accepted and appreciated?” Use these questions to brainstorm and come up with a detailed plan for bringing a new person into your organization. Once the plan is developed and in writing, have everyone involved and implement the plan whenever a new employee arrives. Having a written plan reminds staff of the importance of first impressions and doing a good job of “on boarding”. Doing this also points out that everyone has an important role to play. You could even go so far as having onboarding as part of everyone’s job description. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. By taking the time, effort and planning to get it right at the onset an organization can decrease their chances of losing valuable people because they started off on the wrong foot with them.
Have a personal collage of all immediate staff
One of the concerns that creates anxiety for a new employee is wondering how they will fit in. On the first day they will likely meet a lot of new people and have trouble remembering their names. Instead of handing them a sterile organizational chart with names and titles, how about a collage with photos and personal information of the staff the newbie will be working with. This could include photos of supervisors/coworkers and some information on their personal lives such as family, pets, hobbies, favorite travel destinations or favourite sayings; whatever the employee felt comfortable sharing. That would take the pressure off the new person to remember the many faces that he/she met the first day. By doing this the organization would be sending the message that they are interested in their employees as whole people that have lives outside of work. This would also put a human face on the organization and make a newcomer feel like they are joining a family.
Have a mentor or buddy system
Whenever a new person is brought on board, have someone assigned to spend time with them to teach how things work, go for lunch together and offer support and guidance when needed. This could be one person or be rotated amongst staff on the work unit who volunteer and have a natural affinity to be supportive. It is often easier for a newcomer to ask questions of a supportive colleague than to go to their direct supervisor, as they may fear appearing too needy or foolish for asking questions that they feel might be obvious. While the mentor or buddy would have the main role, other employees would also be encouraged to jump in and do their part to do small things to make the newcomer feel welcome. Learn as much as possible about the new person.
A genuine interest in the new employee as a person
Knowing whether a person is auditory, kinesthetic or visual will tell us how they prefer to be appreciated. For an auditory person, being given a verbal compliment is better than a hand written note, whereas the visual person will prefer the note. A kinesthetic person will appreciate handshakes and solid eye contact. While it is not always possible to have this information about new people at work, it is very helpful to find out. If we don’t know or are unsure, do all three to ensure there will be one way the person will truly appreciate. The more we know about a new employee the more we are able to personalize the welcome, heighten their experience and this gesture will be appreciated and remembered.
Immerse them in the company culture as soon as possible
Immersing a new employee into the organizational culture quickly is the best way to make them feel they are a valuable part of the team. Assign them roles and ask for their input in all the areas they are involved. Encourage them to come up with their own