The beginning of a new role can be an uncertain time. Finding ways to welcome new employees can make things easier. Creating the best start possible for new hires will have a positive impact on their personal experiences. It will also support company culture, retention, and productivity. This article gives you 5 great ways to welcome new hires to your organization.
The first few days at a job are enough to send even the most confident new hires into a panic. Meeting coworkers, learning company norms, and getting up to speed on existing projects and strategies is a lot. This period often feels hectic. Between HR presentations, new tools, get-to-know-you calls, and organization-specific training sessions, new employees can be left a little drained.
It’s important to make new hires feel welcome and part of the team from the start. Creating a sense of belonging boosts retention and productivity, setting your employees up for success. Deploying the right strategies to welcome new employees helps build a sense of belonging while reducing any initial jitters.
Today’s flexible, dispersed nature of work presents its own challenges. How can you be sure to give employees a warm welcome from afar? Some tips for welcoming new employees apply to any workstyle, while others may lend themselves better to an in-person format. The good news is there are plenty of ways to make those who are onboarding in a remote or hybrid setting feel like part of the team too.
Here are 5 of the best ways to welcome new employees to your organization.
- Schedule get-to-know-you time
- Welcome new employees publicly
- Assign an onboarding buddy
- Plan a fun welcome activity for new employees
- Surprise new employees with a welcome gift
Schedule get-to-know-you time
For in-person employees: Encourage team and manager outings
The impact of one-on-one face time between employers and staff members shouldn’t be underestimated. Managers have a considerable impact on staff productivity and morale; getting that relationship right at the start can go a long way to support this. In the beginning, new employees have a lot to learn about their bosses, including what makes them tick and how to stand out to them.
Taking new employees out for lunch or coffee shows that they’re part of a team, not just an office full of bodies doing work. This also gives managers and coworkers a chance to debrief new hires on the company they’ve just joined and build the foundations for a strong relationship. The more informal atmosphere is a great opportunity to ask questions and shed any first-day nerves.
A new hire will likely be “unconsciously incompetent” because they don’t know what they don’t know. Putting a lunch date on the schedule as a way to welcome new employees can help fill in the gaps and get your new hire off to the right start.
For remote employees: Set up some virtual one-on-ones
Remote employees can find it especially difficult to connect with coworkers early on. They may be less likely to schedule social calls because they don’t want to distract people with non-work-related conversations. They’re also still trying to “read the room” and get acclimated to cultural norms. Without off-the-cuff water-cooler conversations, it can be hard to get to know new coworkers and the new work environment. This can set the stage for a potentially lonely first period.
Ensure that managers are scheduling regular one-on-ones with their new hires, and encourage them to begin calls by talking about non-work topics. It can even be helpful to suggest a list of icebreakers, such as “What’s your favorite travel destination?” or “Do you have any pets?”.
Managers should try to set up calls between their new reports other team members, or anyone across departments who the employee will be interacting with in their new role. Getting to know one another and establishing rapport before they collaborate on large projects will lay the right foundations and make working together easier. Ideally, a new team member will have one-on-ones with everyone they’ll encounter frequently at your organization.
Welcome new employees publicly
In the right setting, a low-pressure, informal gathering to socialize with co-workers before jumping into their new positions can help get new employees excited about their jobs and the people they’ll be working with. This can be as simple as a lunchtime pizza party or coffee and donuts in the break room before work. Going the extra mile with these strategies to welcome new hires shows you care.
If you’re a remote or hybrid company, there are still ways to welcome new employees virtually. Include a section at your all-hands meetings to highlight new hires. Have employees introduce themselves and share a brief career history, a fun fact about themselves, or one reason why they’re excited about this new role. They’ll be met with enthusiastic welcomes from across the company in the chat, and coworkers will begin to recognize their faces.
Whether your organization is remote or in-person, you can harness your intranet to welcome new hires. The process can begin before an employee’s start date with a news update on your intranet. This is especially important for changes to company leadership as it boosts transparency and knowledge for current employees, who need to be made aware of these high-level changes.
In addition to company-created intranet content, asking new hires to publish an introductory personal blog post on your intranet can go a long way toward making them feel like part of the team. They can include a short background on their career, why they are looking forward to starting at your company, and some details about their personal life such as hobbies and interests. This will help coworkers get to know them as a colleague and a person, and even discover shared interests.
Assign an onboarding buddy
Involve your current staff in the process of welcoming new employees by implementing a buddy system. Assign every new hire a “buddy” who has been with the company for a while. The more experienced person can offer guidance, support, and firsthand insight into how your organization functions, while both parties can benefit from the new connection. Having a go-to person to ask about company-related matters, or even just check in with over coffee, can make a big difference in feeling comfortable in a new setting and increasing employee happiness during the first few months.
Having a go-to person at work during those first few months is especially important for remote employees. Establishing connections and making work friends doesn’t happen overnight, especially when colleagues aren’t in the same physical location. Remote work means there are no organic run-ins while waiting for the elevator, chats by the coffee machine, or impromptu invitations out to lunch. Creating the opportunity for conversations with a coworker at the beginning makes sure new hires are getting social interaction, and they’ll undoubtedly learn anecdotal company knowledge that isn’t in the employee handbook.
What’s more, the benefits of a buddy program extend beyond the first week to deliver continual value for individual employees and the wider business, including a positive impact on the employee experience, retention rates, productivity, and morale.
Research shows that 88 percent of employees who are given active roles in collaboration and knowledge-sharing report high job satisfaction. Giving current employees a “buddy” role allows them to do both of these things, and their experiences will be better for it.
Plan a fun welcome activity for new employees
For in-person employees: Plan a work location scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts can be a fun and less formal way to welcome new employees. This ice-breaking activity forces new hires to ask colleagues for help finding clues. If your business is onboarding multiple employees, pair them off to solve clues together, encouraging team bonding and reducing stress.
As they race around in search of the items, new hires will become acquainted with the location and its people.
For remote employees: Plan an intranet scavenger hunt
For employees who don’t spend their first weeks in one place, organize a virtual scavenger hunt on your intranet software. Provide clues that can be found on coworkers’ people directory profiles or get your new hires to seek out information hidden in forums, groups, or discussions. This kills two birds with one stone—new starters will learn more about their peers and recent happenings within the organization while familiarizing themselves with a crucial aspect of their digital workplace.
Surprise new employees with a welcome gift
Receiving a gift on the first day of a new job (or before) makes new employees feel valued. This is especially true during a time when so much is unfamiliar. Even just a card can make your hires feel they’re being welcomed as part of the team. If budget allows, include a small gift card to the coffee shop down the street or a food delivery service.
Consider taking it a step further with a personalized gift that reflects your branding and company culture. For instance, GUILD Media Solutions gives new hires an “Essentials Box” with a branded coffee mug and practical office gadgets.
This can be a quirky way to highlight company values and culture as well as building an internal brand. The gesture goes a long way towards getting your recruit motivated and excited about their new job. The best part is that a gift-giving strategy can be used to welcome employees in any location. If employees are starting remotely, make sure you mail gifts with plenty of time to arrive before their start dates.
The transition period into a new role can be stressful and challenging but should be a positive experience. As you navigate the onboarding process with recent recruits, use these ideas to make them feel engaged and excited. Implementing these ways to welcome new employees fosters a strong workplace culture that will benefit the entire organization.