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How to make a new employee’s first day great

In this post get some tips on how to make a new employee’s first day as enjoyable and useful as possible, with advice from the course Management and Leadership: Leading a Team.

In this post get some tips on how to make a new employee’s first day as enjoyable and useful as possible, with advice from the course Management and Leadership: Leading a Team.

Clammy hands, twitching feet, awkward handshakes left, right and centre – the first day of a new job is never particularly easy. But a good first day is crucial: done well it can inspire hard work and enthusiasm, done poorly and it can effect the exact opposite. As the cliche goes, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

So how can you ensure that your staff leave work on their first day feeling happy with their choice and prepared for the work ahead?

Make sure their working area is clean and tidy

It really is that simple. Designer William Morris said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ It’s a good rule for the office too. Before an employee arrives make sure their working area is welcoming and comfortable – this way when they arrive they know time and care has been spent making room for them at the company (literally and figuratively).

Some companies even offer special welcome kit to really get new starters excited about work, and invested in the company culture or brand:

The welcome pack all new starters at ad agency Ogilvy Cape Town are given. (See it in its full glory at Adweek)

Introduce them to key processes AND key people

The amount of information on a first day can be overwhelming, but it can be even worse if you’re left playing a guessing game. Make sure you introduce your employees to the key processes they need to know highlighting the most important and, crucially, giving them something they can refer back to (detailing everything from the coffee machine and fire protocols to appraisal systems and document sharing). At FutureLearn we use a course (of course) to help new employees learn our methods.

Along with key processes, try and introduce them to key people. It can be tricky for new employees to identify the right people and then to introduce themselves – especially with everyone absorbed in their work. You can act as a facilitator, making the whole process less awkward, and ensuring the new employee knows who to talk to, when.

Make it clear what’s expected of them during the first day or week

Is their first day just settling in? Or are they expected to hit the ground running? Tell your new employee exactly what you need from them as soon as possible, that way they can prioritise their work and neither of you will be disappointed further down the road.

Find them a mentor or buddy

This is especially important if you’re the new starter’s manager. They might not want to put certain questions to you for fear of looking stupid but if you find them a mentor or buddy they might be more comfortable with (either because they have something in common, or because they’re a similar level of seniority), they can get support from them. Often it’s useful to find someone who’s also joined the company quite recently – someone new enough to understand and anticipate questions, but been there long enough to know the answers.

Want to discover more about creating and maintaining a great team? Get knowledge, insights and practical advice with the course Management and Leadership: leading a team.

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