Do you remember how it felt to start a new job? Did you find your “first day” interesting and exciting? Did your boss and your peers try to make you feel comfortable and glad to be there? Or did you experience a “first day” that made you wonder if you’d made a huge mistake accepting the job? It’s a no-brainer that, as an employer, you want any new employee to feel welcome when s/he begins working for you — no matter how big or how small your company. But does your behavior match your good intentions? Do you have an orientation process that is well planned and effective? A successful orientation should not only ensure that new people feel welcome, but also make sure that they have the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs as well as information about company culture and policies. So let’s look at some tips for creating a “first day on the job” — and the 90 days to follow — that your new person will remember with positive feelings.

Before the new person arrives, it is a good idea to let the other people in your company know s/he is coming and the job s/he’ll be doing. An e-mail telling something about the person — especially to new team members that will interact with him/her — is helpful in alerting people to expect a new face. Obviously, you’ll want a newcomer to have a comfortable and efficient work station or office. This would include a telephone (with list of extensions), an up-and running computer fully loaded with applicable software (and passwords) and a variety of office supplies (paper, envelopes, pens/pencils, scissors, Scotch tape, highlighters, paper clips, white out, sticky pads, ruler, stapler and staple remover, a hole punch, in-basket, file folder rack, folders, etc.) Make sure the desk chair offers good back support and has a plastic mat under it if needed. Prepare a new employee packet that includes a company policies and procedures manual, information on health insurance and other benefits and financial forms (for withholding, 401-K, etc.) Create a personal profile form (all contact information for the new employee, birthday, etc.) for the new person to complete.

Be sure to assign the newcomer a “buddy” for the first day whose goal is to create a sense of belonging for the new hire and to be the point person for any questions. The “buddy” will introduce the new person to other employees, talk about the company history and culture and discuss the importance of the new person’s job to the company, team and customers. This is also a good time to familiarize him/her with the policy for reporting absences and late arrivals.
The “buddy” also would provide a tour of the facilities, including a general overview and location of restrooms and office supplies. Touring the break room or kitchen also provides a good opportunity to inform the person about policies for storing food in the refrigerator, dishwashing, making coffee, etc. Most important, the “buddy” will go to lunch with the newcomer so s/he does not have to eat alone the first day. If possible, set up a lunch with team members sometime within the new arrival’s first week. At the “welcome lunch,” s/he can be asked to share a bit about his/her life — as can other team members.

The supervisor or manager of a new hire needs to make sure that expectations for “doing a good job” are very clear and that the person is set up for a “win” by being given work that s/he already is comfortable with and can execute well. As the person is ready, more challenging work can be added. Setting specific goals for the new person to accomplish every 30 days gives structure and allows both the supervisor/ manager and the new hire to get feedback about whether the new person is meeting or exceeding job expectations. People like to know where they stand, especially in a new situation, so a formal evaluation process during the usual 90- day probation period is a good idea. The first 90 days on the job also provide a good opportunity to benchmark the new person’s skills and determine a training track that will meet his/her needs. Training can be provided via job “shadowing” (the person observes someone else doing a designated task), company classes, independent seminars, programs at conferences, mentoring, etc.

Planning ahead for the arrival of a new employee by having a clear “welcoming” and orientation process reveals an employer who is thoughtful as well as efficient. Judi Craig, Ph.D., MCC, is an executive coach in San Antonio. She is president of COACH SQUARED, Inc. (www.coachsquared. com) and an Atticus Senior Practice Advisor for attorneys.

Author: Judi Craig