Nice to Meet You: How to Acclimate New Employees from Day One

Employees show up to the first day of a new job with their eyes and ears wide open, and their initial experience goes a long way in shaping how they view their employer. It’s helpful to step back and remember what it’s like to walk through the doors of a new workplace with little prior knowledge of what’s waiting inside. Everything that seems second nature to a seasoned veteran is totally unfamiliar to these fresh-faced hires, and It’s up to the organization to set the tone.

Having a great on-boarding system is mutually beneficial. Employees who have guidance as they navigate company culture and their job duties will feel more valued and secure. With the proper infrastructure in place to help employees acclimate quickly, organizations themselves will start reaping the benefits of their hiring decisions. Here are a few tips for helping workers learn the ropes quickly, as well as avoidable counterproductive behaviors that may leave new additions hanging in limbo.

Make New Employees a Priority

Employees can tell if you’re scrambling to figure out what to do with them. Just ask Avery Augustine, a tech company manager who wrote about her worst first day for The Muse: “I didn’t know anyone (and no one went out of their way to reach out to me), I had absolutely no sense of what I was supposed to do all day, and I only saw my boss for a total of about 10 minutes (and that’s a generous estimate).”

Directionless first days or weeks that leave new employees tiptoeing around trying to get a sense of what their job entails are bad for everyone. Dropping the ball on having a self-explanatory, pre-planned training system puts more pressure on coworkers to piece together advice and a list of tasks, and will likely alienate the new member right off the bat. It’s crucial to have a training and work plan set ahead of time that includes necessary instruction mixed with low-pressure tasks that reflect what the person will be doing daily. Address FAQs, provide clear instructions for introductory tasks in writing and let them know exactly who will be guiding them through their first week or so.

Don’t Just Break the Ice; Shatter It

First days are already an exciting yet nerve-wracking endeavor. Bringing a newbie to a meeting and putting them on the spot by asking them to monologue about themselves is not the best way to introduce them to the team. Instead of a one-versus-many situation, foster collaborative communication with interactive icebreaker questions that employees can answer using a smartphone or a web browser. Leadership teams can come up with wildly creative getting-to-know-you questions and prompt new and experienced employees alike to answer them.

Team-building occurs when laughter and follow-ups ensue based on people’s answers, and it provides a solid jumping-off point for everyone to reveal key information about themselves. Instead of putting the spotlight on just one person at a time, real-time icebreakers make it a memorable multi-party endeavor.

Help New Hires Build a Network

On your first day, you have very little idea of who you will work closely with every day. Sometimes companies err on the side of over-introducing colleagues to be friendly, but neglect to help employees form meaningful associations with central teammates. It’s important to introduce new hires to the right people and establish connections with key stakeholders, per the Harvard Business Review. Let employees know who will become sources of advice and insight, and work hard to forge these interpersonal links right off the bat to clear the lines of communication and make it easier on the newcomer.

Just like the candidates you considered all had one shot to make a first impression during the interview process, your organization has a limited time to foster a welcoming and productive environment for trainees. A smooth training process benefits everyone involved, and must focus on both the human element and the forthcoming responsibilities.