How To Make New Employees Feel Welcome

How To Make New Employees Feel Welcome

Onboarding has become a rather sterile term. It began as a recognition that how employees start in a new company, or a new role, can have a dramatic effect on their performance, engagement, and even their tenure. But gradually more and more demands started to be added to the process—legal requirements, mandatory trainings, pages after pages of employee handbooks. And without warning what started as a cause for celebration turned into a cascade of contract signing.

But a growing body of research suggests that what employees truly need to for successful onboarding is to prioritize connection to their coworkers over documentation and contracting. And further research reveals that getting employees to feel a sense of progress in their role and get them engaged quickly.

With those two goals in mind, here are several tactics you can use to make new employees feel welcome, connected, and making progress.

Send A Teaser Email

The first tactic to make new employees feel welcome is a before the start date, teaser email. You’ve been interacting new hires during the interview process, and you know their contact information and you know a lot about them. So, before their first day on the job, preferably just a day or two before their start date, send them a quick email sharing how excited you are for them to join the team. Mention specific information you recall from the interviews and connect it to the work your team will be doing. Just that simple message can help them focus on what they’re looking forward to and help them feel cared for and understood even before you’re technically their team leader.

Provide An “Enter-view”

The second tactic to make new employees feel welcome is an “enter-view.” This is sort of the opposite of the interview process. Instead of the new hires telling the team about themselves, it involves the team telling the new hires how excited they are to welcome them. Ideally members of the team were involved in the hiring process, and this “enter-view” is the chance for them to draw from what they remember to share why they’re so excited for their new teammate. Enter-views work best when done in person early on the first day, but it could also be done by bombarding new hires’ desks or email inboxes with positive messages throughout the day as well.

Give Them A Win Right Away

The third tactic to make new employees feel welcome is to give them a win right away. Assign new hires a task that can be completed that very day or an opportunity to contribute their insight to a project right away. And no, we’re not talking about reading a training manual and passing a quiz. Instead, find a way they can feel they’ve made a real contribution to the team’s workload on their very first day on the team. It could be an interaction with a client or pulling them into a brainstorming meeting. Find a small win that can be celebrated right away and help them reflect at the end of the day and know they’ve made an impact.

Personalize Their Welcome Gift

The fourth tactic to make new employees feel welcome is to personalize their welcome gift. And personalization doesn’t just mean adding their name to the card or even embroidering their name on a polo (although according to at least one study that would help). Instead, it means welcoming them with a gift that is personally selected to appeal to them based on your knowledge about them. The simplest and easiest way is to ask. When you’re interviewing candidates, sneak in a few questions about their likes, hobbies, or ways they like to celebrate. (“What’s something that costs less than $20 that you use to celebrate or savor the moment?”) Then, when they arrive for their first day, that simple, personal gift is waiting for them.

Hold A Farewell Check-In

The fifth tactic to make new employees feel welcome is the farewell check-in. At the end of their first day, make sure you hold a quick one-on-one meeting with them to check-in and find out how their doing. You’ll want to learn their initial impressions, and struggles they had, any connections they’d still like to make. And you’ll want to reiterate how excited you are for them to join your team (and how grateful you are for the small win they had earlier in the day). Even better, schedule this check-in mid-way through the afternoon and then tell them to take the rest of the day off. Let them know that you know there are friends or family members waiting to hear from them and you want to make sure those people hear how the first day went.

Schedule One Week, One Month Check-Ins

The sixth tactic to make new employees feel welcome is to schedule a few more check-ins, preferably at one week and one month after their start date, and then a regular cycle of check-ins like you do with every teammate. Unlike those check-ins, however, these discussions are about learning the new hire’s feelings, thoughts, and desires around the team and the work. You want to know if there’s any tension. You want to know if there’s anything you can resolve or any help you can provide. But you won’t know unless you take the time to check-in and ask. So, after you’ve sent that new hire home on the first day, make a note in your calendar to circle back after one week and one month for a discussion not about work, but about them.

There are two commonalities behind all these tactics. The first is that they recognize the uniqueness of the new hires and the individual contribution they make to the team. The second is that offer opportunities for personal connections and check-ins to see how team fit is going. People want to that makes an impact, and to do it on teams that recognize that impact. And when leaders spend the first day emphasizing that impact and those connections, it sets up new hires to do their best work ever.





About the author

David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.

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