- Why is the first day so important?
- What To Cover: Introductions
- What To Cover: Getting Ahead of Confusion
Today’s job market is more dynamic than ever and with so much movement in the labor pool, your organization will likely have new hires starting soon. The best thing you can do to make your onboarding process meaningful is to plan a helpful effective first day for your new employees.
The first days can be scary and intimidating for new hires and they often don’t know what to expect. As an HR professional, you need to apply human resource planning skills as it’s your job to make sure they feel comfortable, welcomed, and prepared to succeed in their new role.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into an employee’s first day. We’ll talk about why this day is important and we’ll walk you through all the steps you should take to set new hires up for long-term success in their crucial first eight hours.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to develop a consistent plan you can execute for all new hires that will help your organization and its employee retention rates thrive for years to come.
Why the first day is so important?;
How do you introduce yourself, your organization, and your culture?
What you can do to get ahead of confusion?
Let’s Get Started.
Why is the first day so important?
Studies have shown that turnover in the first 18 months can be as high as 50 percent. As an employer, you only get one chance at a first impression, and when a new employee joins your team, it won’t take them long to form an opinion about the job and the organization.
That’s why you need to engage new hires right away, on day one. Show them all the competitive benefits you offer, the culture you have established, and how they can expect to make an impact.
A great first lays a foundation for not just longer tenure, but better performance, and to achieve those goals, you need to teach new hires what to expect and what will be expected of them.
They need to know right away what to make of your organization, what it values, how their new position fits into those values, and the cultural norms and logistics that can transform jitters and stress into feelings of belonging and contributing, as quickly as possible.
In addition, a useful, efficient, and effective first day sets a precedent for good performance. It shows new hires the quality of work they’ll be producing, and it helps build a culture of mutual respect.
Let’s look more closely at what you can do to make new hires excited about what’s to come
What To Cover: Introductions
In this section, we’ll discuss a lot about how major corporations handle introductions, but keep in mind that your organization may be different. We recommend you include all these major ingredients in your employee’s first days. But you don’t have to do them in a particular order. Just make sure there’s a logical progression from one section to the next and that you give your new hires mental breaks throughout the day so that they can continue to absorb the information without getting overwhelmed or worn out. So, let’s jump in.
Introduce the Space
Show them where the bathroom is and give new hires an office tour to introduce the space. Show them the work area where they can put their lunch. Where to get supplies, where HR is located, and where their manager will be. The office tour should often include emergency preparedness, viz., where is the fire extinguisher? Is there an AED kit on site? What room should they go to in case of a storm? Where is the emergency exit?
Though you hope new hires never need to use this information, it’s important that you value their safety and provide it right away on the first day.
End the tour by giving the new employee an agenda for the day, setting expectations, and helping to calm their nerves by letting them know what’s to come. Once you’ve introduced the space, introduce yourself. If your organization has a culture guide, it’s a great tool to help new hires to get to know the company.
Introduce the Organization
Introducing yourself includes introducing the organization. With help from the culture guide talk with a new hire about your company’s history; Where did it come from? How did it get to where it is today? Include vision and mission statements along with any grounding principles that guide how the organization makes decisions.
Introduce How You Work
You want your new employee to understand best practices for the daily tasks and interactions they’ll have on the job. It’s important that accountability partners or managers run this first-day onboarding and they should work through several elements of the culture guide that discuss norms for communication feedback, performance management, running meetings, and more
How you work will also include the new employee’s role fits into the overall picture. If HR typically runs onboarding, get the manager involved in this step. The new hire should understand what their manager’s job is, what their own responsibilities are and how those roles interact and contribute to organizational goals.
Introduce the Company’s Structure
Once your new hire is clear on how you work, it is important to introduce the company structure to give them the essence of how departments and teams are organized.
Review the organizational chart and discuss how the new hire’s team interacts with each of the others. A great way to frame this conversation is by discussing your organization’s value proposition, i.e, what your company offers to the world and how each team member works to deliver it after all those introductions give your new hire a few minutes to ask questions they have.
Here are a few FAQs that you can prepare in advance to help the new hires feel confident on their first day.
What is your vacation policy? How is time off allocated?
When are your office hours? How does a lunch break factor in?
How are raises and promotions determined? What are the timelines for advancement?
A culture guide is a great place to store answers to these questions and more as well as to include a document that outlines target compensation levels based on experience scope and skill for each team.
Being transparent about things like salary benefits and expectations from the beginning can contribute to mutual respect and trust. Set employees up for growth and help your retention efforts for the long term. These introductions come with a lot of information so make time for a substantial break in the workday.
We recommend that the new hires’ manager take them and the whole immediate team out to lunch. Encourage introductions and friendly conversation, these are the people that the new employee is going to be hanging out with every day. So, they’ll need to get to know each other. And of course, this meal should be employer-sponsored. Be a good host and let new hires know your organization is here to take care of them as well.
What To Cover: Getting Ahead of Confusion
While the previous section focused on introductions, the rest of the employee’s first day should be dedicated to proactively looking forward to preventing confusion and easing to growing pains that often come along with the new job. Here’s what you can do
Take Care of Office Logistics
Help your new hires set up any relevant technology. Their computer, their email, their office phone, and the printer. Show them how to use the internal communication service. How to schedule a meeting and how to navigate your HR information system to complete benefit selections. See their pay stubs and clock in and outs.
Don’t expect them to memorize everything you go over here. Just highlight and help out with some key processes and remind them that the culture guide is a good resource to check if they’re confused.
Another type of office logistics to consider here is any HR paperwork or compliance tasks that still remain. Check the employee’s I-9 documentation, for example. Also if your organization falls under HIPAA guidelines, we recommend offering this training on the first day if there’s time. That way there’s no risk of accidental non-compliance from the new hire compromising information before they understand the law
Conduct An Understanding Check
Before the first-day ends, make sure you’ve offered another opportunity for your new employee to ask questions. More are likely to occur to them as orientation goes on. Encourage them to be candid and forthright. Now is the best time to clear up any misunderstandings before they can escalate.
We also recommend developing an assessment of some kind. For example, in certain business organizations, the new hires take an online test on the culture guide at the end of their first day to help them identify information, assess where their understanding is incomplete, and clarify anything that was overlooked or miscommunicated during the course of the day.
Provide A Plan
Day one should give employees an idea of what work will look like moving forward so we recommend creating what we call a 30-60-90 for each employee document that outlines what they should accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of the job. The first three months can significantly impact whether an employee chooses to stay in the organization for the long term and this sort of document gives employees the tools they need to perform well from the beginning
When you deliver the plan make sure to explain what it is, what each task on it looks like, and how doing these things will be an indicator of doing a great job in their first months on the team.
Prepare For Tomorrow
Finally, give employees a heads-up about what will happen on day two. Including what meetings they’ll need to attend and what projects they’ll begin working on. Make sure they can see how these tasks relate to their 90-day plans so they can leave with a sense that they’ll already be making progress the very next day.
When it’s time to go remember to be a polite host. Thank the employee for joining the company and wish them a happy evening. If appropriate, you may even offer to walk them out, a simple friendly gesture can go a long way towards helping the new hires feel welcomed and appreciated.
In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about an employee’s first day from how to introduce yourself to how to say goodbye. The first day is crucial to making a lasting impression that shows what your organization values and how the newly hired can contribute to the value.
While it will take some time to plan, pulling off a great first day can set new hires up for success that will pay dividends for years to come. As always remember that your role is as strategic as you make it.