When a new baby is born there is huge celebration. Parents are congratulated, flowers and balloons are sent and dad gets patted on the back and given a cigar! In many companies, when a big account is won or a new customer goes on the books, a bell is rung, there is applause and the sales person wins an award. Every effort is made to impress the socks off of that customer from day one.

Yet when a new employee joins, they nervously sit in reception waiting for the HR person to come and fetch them. Then they get given a pack of forms to complete, before being taken for a quick tour and finally sits down at a desk with an old computer (if they are lucky) while they spend the rest of the day reading the HR policies on the intranet.

Organisations spend huge amounts of money on employee engagement, initiatives to raise moral, and complain bitterly about the negativity of staff and the cost of high turnover. Yet little, or no attention, is given to the on-board process. When a new person joins a company there is a golden opportunity to hook them in, seriously impress them, and set the tone for an enthusiastically engaged employee.

Here are five ideas for a successful welcome of new employees.

  1. Before employment begins. Traditionally there is about a month or so after the employment contract is signed to the actual start date. Set up a secure private website with an overview of staff, who will be in their department and what projects are currently being worked on in their area and the organisation. It can have all the HR policies as well as place to complete those boring HR forms electronically while allowing them to ensure they upload a copy of their personal documents required to keep HR happy. Put newsletters, announcements, photos and any other useful information on the site that will make them look forward to joining.
  2. T minus one day. Send an email or, even better, give them a call and tell them you are looking forward to seeing them the next day. Give advice on what to wear (if starting on casual Friday for example) and ask estimated time of arrival the next day. Don’t forget to wish them luck with the goodbyes.
  3. Preparing for arrival. Make sure access cards and other items are arranged and ready to be given to the person straight away. Stationery, computer, desk, chair and dustbin should be ready and waiting. Email address and access sorted out and why not add a personal welcome sign with a small gift waiting on the desk. As a nice touch…make sure all the current staff are aware that the new person is starting and make it a practice that everyone on the day greets and welcomes the new person.
  4. Have a buddy. Allocate one colleague that will be working closely with the person as their buddy. The buddy will not only welcome them, but be the go-to person when they need to know something or have a question. This is not necessarily the person that will train them but someone that will be a friend in those first few days to have lunch with and to show them the ropes. Make sure the new employee knows what their buddy looks like! Why not have the buddy send out a welcome message or voice note or Whatsapp before they join?
  5. The big day. Have their buddy wait for them at reception. Take them to where everyone is having or making coffee and introduce them to the morning chatter. The buddy will know enough about the newbie to make conversation and to make the person feel welcome. They will show them around and show them to their desk. When switching on the computer there may be a welcome message and perhaps a few minor tasks for them to complete on the day, even if it is just to read the latest minutes of the project meeting. Make sure that everyone comes to them to welcome them (including HR and their manager) and while the buddy keeps a watchful eye out to make sure they are having a good first day, kick off the well thought out induction program.