- The welcoming phase of onboarding a new employee actually begins before their first day.
- Welcoming your new employee is important because it sets the tone of the relationship between the employer and the employee. Knowing how to do this well will set your organization apart from its competition.
- The secret to successfully bringing on a new team member is to warmly welcome them while you are onboarding them.
- This article is for small business owners and supervisors who are welcoming new team members to their companies.
How you welcome a new team member affects their overall involvement in your organization. Learn how creatively and authentically welcoming your new team member will cement their enthusiasm for their new company. Although this 10-step welcoming and onboarding process requires commitment and effort to implement, the results will be worth it.
Why the employee welcoming process matters
Giving your new employees a warm welcome isn't just a nice thing to do; it's a smart strategy that results in greater productivity and longer retention. The Society for Human Resource Management reported that new employees who went through a carefully curated onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the same organization three years later. Likewise, organizations with a standard onboarding process saw 50% greater productivity from their new hires.
It's important to do what you can to encourage retention, because up to 20% of all turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment, according to O.C. Tanner, and nearly 33% of new hires begin looking for a new job within their first six months of starting one, Harvard Business Review reported.
It's expensive to hire employees – the average cost of a non-executive-level new hire is $4,000, according to Glassdoor – so onboarding your new team members, and authentically welcoming them, is more than just a feel-good ritual; it is a sound business practice.
But there's a human element as well; welcoming your new team members with a well-thought-out onboarding process is not only professional but compassionate. At some point, everyone has experienced the stress of the first day or week of a new job. You can help new hires feel welcome and truly valued by including welcoming activities in your onboarding program.
Key takeaway: Onboarding is good for business, and including welcoming activities in your onboarding process can add to the positive results and help employees feel valued.
How to welcome your new employee
There are a number of ways to welcome your new employee with an effective onboarding program. Here are the 10 steps we recommend, but you should feel free to add extra steps or modifications to make this process a better fit for your organization.
Actions to take prior to your new employee's start date
The welcoming process begins before your employee's first day. Plan to get started as soon as your new employee has officially accepted your employment offer. A smooth transition to the employee's new position plays an important role in their first impression of your company, how long they remain with you and how productive they are within their first couple of months.
1. Reach out with welcome letters or phone calls.
After you send the offer letter and receive it with your new employee's signature, have your HR team send a separate welcome letter or make a welcome phone call prior to the employee's start date. These kinds of actions go a long way in helping your new team member feel welcomed and valued.
In addition, the employee's direct supervisor should reach out to the new hire to congratulate them. These two calls will impress your new team member and will leave them with a positive impression of your business.
2. Ready their computer and IT tools, and ask the team to send welcome emails.
Your new employee cannot check email or their calendar on their first day unless their computer is set up and ready to go. Ensuring that passcodes, permission levels and any other access-related items are ready to go will make the first day seamless.
Combine this crucial onboarding step with recommended welcome emails from as many team members as it makes sense to include. Anyone your new team member will work with, partner with or support should share a welcome email on the new team member's first day. It settles the anxiety of not knowing anyone and helps drive home the inclusive and supportive environment that you work hard to cultivate in your organization.
Actions to take during the first day
These welcoming activities go beyond the standard paperwork meeting and tour, to make your new hire's first day meaningful and less stressful:
3. Review new-hire paperwork and deliver the "culture talk."
This step is important because it nicely blends standard onboarding paperwork (that HR will most likely take the lead on – namely, the W-2, Form I-9, payroll-related documents, the company's confidentiality agreement, an employee handbook confirmation, etc.) with the "culture talk." This discussion includes time with a senior leader, perhaps a C-suite executive, who shares what the company culture and the team's core beliefs are all about and how they connect with the employee's role.
Leaders can also share what the company mission personally means to them and why it drives their work each day. This type of introduction to company values requires commitment, but it often sticks with the employee for years.
4. Host a welcome lunch.
Have someone on your leadership team take your new employee out to lunch. Everyone likes a free lunch, of course, but this is also a memorable experience for the new employee. The direct supervisor should manage this responsibility, as it is a wonderful opportunity to talk casually and get to know the employee by learning about their family, hobbies and other interests.
5. Introduce upstream and downstream colleagues.
We all know that new employees get tours of the office and other pertinent places that show the employee the bigger picture of the company's operations. However, it's often helpful to give a tour that introduces your new hire to people at all levels of the organization. Doing so helps the employee understand how their role fits into the larger picture from day one.
6. Pair the employee with a mentor.
At many small companies, mentors may not always be available or may be too busy to provide regular coaching. However, it's still important to prioritize mentorship because of how impactful it can be. A mentor shouldn't be the employee's immediate supervisor but rather a leader located elsewhere in the organization or a seasoned colleague who can offer not only training tips but a voice of calm and reassurance as your new team member learns to adapt to your organization.
Actions to take during the first 90 days
As your new employee settles into their role, schedule check-ins to ensure that their needs are being met and that they are on track to meet their performance plan goals.
7. Do skip-level check-ins.
While the employee's direct supervisor will be checking in and coaching their new team member daily, it is also extremely helpful to have a "skip-level check-in" – in other words, when the supervisor's supervisor stops by to check on how the employee is doing and to ask if they need anything.
8. Share performance plans and goals.
A standard part of a robust onboarding program is ensuring your new employee has established performance goals for the first week, month, quarter and so on.
It's also helpful to give the employee the opportunity to share their vocational ambitions both within their current job and for future roles with the organization. For the employee-employer relationship to be long-lasting, you must also fulfill the employee's needs and aspirations.
Actions to take during the first year
At a minimum, your skip-level check-ins should continue throughout the employee's first year. Here are some additional steps to take during this time period:
9. Acknowledge the employee's achievements.
Although there will no doubt be a performance review at the conclusion of the employee's first year, be certain to highlight the employee's achievements as they occur. Be specific about what their role was in each achievement and how it benefited the organization.
10. Offer career development opportunities.
Part of the performance review process should be to look ahead to the employee's future with the company. This, again, is an opportunity for the employee to share their aspirations as they relate to the company's ability to offer career growth. As you can see from Learning Hub's graphic below, 22% of employees leave their employer due to a lack of career development opportunities.
How to welcome remote employees
Remote employees are a little more challenging to onboard well, so it's essential to provide a proper onboarding process that addresses the unique needs of remote employees. Here are three steps to ensure you can effectively communicate with your new team member through the remote onboarding process:
1. Ensure that your IT (or ERP) platform is adequate.
Your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or IT platform needs to incorporate remote learning so that you can onboard remote employees just as effectively as you onboard on-site employees. Before a remote employee's first day, make sure they have the hardware, passwords and access they need.
2. Assign your sponsor or support team.
Remote employees do not always know how their administrative and overflow work should be handled. Ensuring that they have your organizational chart and know who to call or email when there are questions will help facilitate their first couple of weeks.
3. Schedule in additional flexibility.
Although an onboarding program helps expedite the welcoming and settling-in process, at times your new team member may require additional time to absorb all that there is to take in during their first few days.
Remember, remote employees do not have the benefits of impromptu face-to-face meetings, which means it may take them longer to get up and running and to connect with colleagues.
Tip: Remote employees require the same quality of onboarding to your team as on-site employees do. Ensure that the basics are in place before their first day, and then apply each of the aforementioned steps equally to your new remote employees.
How startup businesses should welcome employees
The first day for an employee at a startup should closely resemble the plans recommended above. However, startup businesses often have additional information they need to share with new team members.
Each startup has its own vibe and issues to overcome. New team members, particularly if they have never worked at a startup, should be shown the ins and outs of the business and where the company is in either the growth curve and/or the initial startup stages.
Part of authentically welcoming your new team members to a startup business is assuring them that, even though things change quickly, you are all in it together. Verbalizing the following four attributes will go a long way in helping your new team member engage early on and remain focused on their role in making the organization successful:
1. Everyone wears many hats.
Typically, everyone – including the CEO, most of the time – wears multiple hats in a small organization. The employee's job description should reflect the basic tenets of their primary job, but you should also highlight that every employee fulfills multiple roles.
2. Every day is different.
Emphasize that, although the employee's job title may remain the same, what they do to advance the company will evolve from day to day.
3. Building a new business is scary.
At times, employees may be led to think that the company is sailing smoothly, and other times, it may seem like the end is near and no one can save the company. Although this is normal for a startup, strong leadership will project calmness and point out that, from day to day, the organization will control what it can, even though events quickly and constantly change.
4. Their job will change.
Let employees know from the get-go that while working for startups, everyone's job changes, and many never stop evolving. Although you probably addressed this in the interview phase, it is a good reminder that flexibility and evolution are essential for employees of a startup.