No matter who you are or the position you are starting, first days can be nerve-racking. I mean who wouldn’t be a little anxious stepping into the vast unknown we like to call our future? There’s pressure that comes with the first day. Are you as good as the hiring manager thinks you are? Are you going to fit in? What if your first-day outfit screams too much “I’m new here!”?
It’s almost like going back to your first day of middle school and who wants to re-live their 6th-grade first day? I know I sure as heck don’t! But, first days don’t have to be this way. Here are four tips to help you set the workplace tone for new hires and help them feel welcomed.
Greet Them with Smiles – Really Big Smiles
We’re located in the Midwest, so smiling and niceties come naturally to us. For those of you who do not live in America’s Breadbasket, have you ever apologized for someone else running into you? Oh, no? Well, we do. That’s just a little visual on a typical Midwestern interaction.
Though smiles are shared often, they still matter. The power of a smile is not diminished. When new team members walk through the door, it is important that someone is welcoming them to the team (yes – smiles included). For example, when it was my first day at Baudville, I was greeted first by our lovely receptionist, Olivia, and then with the literal message “Welcome to the team Julia Hisey!” that scrolled across the tv screens located throughout the building. In that moment, my anxiety about my first day started to fade and thoughts like “wow, they really are glad to have me here” started to fill that space.
Show It AND Say It
We’ve all heard the phrase: actions speak louder than words. Some of us may even live by this rule (I’m raising my hand high here). So, what does that mean for us as onboarders? Instead of just saying “welcome to the team, we’re happy to have you,” show it as well! Present them a beautifully packaged box with some first-day must-haves and a handwritten note from their new team! It’s a small gesture, but one that makes the world of a difference. When you gift them a welcome kit, you’re really saying, “you’re valued and we’re wanting to invest in you!”
Don’t Make Them the Odd (Wo)Man Out
You know that neon sign that seems to point right at you and flash a whole bunch with sirens going off everywhere you go on your first day? Yeah, let’s remove that sign for new hires by understanding that on that day, everyone is new. New to them at least. Providing name tags (especially if id badges aren’t used on a daily basis in your building) will help break down the awkwardness that tends to linger in the air on first days. Cute and casual ones that current team members can fill out on their own are even better, like these Conversation Starter Name Tags!
Another way to really make new employees feel a part of the team is by scheduling time for them to sit down with their fellow co-workers and play some icebreaker games. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Work Like Mad(Libs) – make sure you stay silly for this one
- Picture This – even though it involves drawing, you aren’t required to be an artist
- Salt and Pepper – this is the game I played with my team on my first day and I couldn’t stop laughing (Thank you Refresh Leadership for the idea!)
Have a Solid Onboarding Plan
Just like you can tell when an interviewee knows what they’re talking about or not, new team members can tell when you are ready for them (or not). Having a set plan for all new hires keeps training clear and consistent, as well as welcoming them a lot easier. Here’s an ebook that dives deeper into what onboarding is and guidance on how to create your own onboarding plan.
Already have a rockin’ onboarding plan? Awesome! Take a moment to do a little happy dance and give yourself a pat on the back! Now, go see how you can improve that plan!
No matter the gift, or the games you play, or even the amount of smiles you give – it won’t matter if you don’t mean those gestures. I know, I’m getting a little mommy-ish on you, but it’s true. Genuinely wanting to ensure their success (and ultimately your success) at your company is the founding block to a great first day. So, now that you are a first-day expert - cheers to many more BEST EVER first days!