Beginning a new job is an emotional time. Ask anyone their expectations ahead of their start date, and you’re likely to hear a lot more about how they’re feeling than what they’re thinking. Yet for most companies with a structured onboarding process, the focus is largely – if not exclusively – on the transfer of information.
All those emotions – positive and negative, excitement and apprehension – get overlooked in favour of dry paperwork and presentations. But this isn't what people buy into or ultimately settle into. If the point of onboarding is to turn new hires into loyal employees, something more is needed from the HR teams responsible.
Instead of focusing solely on what you want someone to know about your company, consider how you want them to feel about being part of it. Here’s the EWS view on what you can do to make formative emotional connections that bring new joiners truly on board.
1. Make them feel important
It’s a great feeling being chosen for a new job, but it’s even better to know just how much you mean to your new company. There are many simple ways to make a new hire feel valued during onboarding: a welcome email or video from the CEO; an effusive announcement on their first day; even a small gift with their offer letter.
2. Make them feel welcome
Building strong relationships is one of the surest ways to make new hires feel at home (according to one study, over half of employees who have a best friend at work feel a profound connection to their company). Assigning a mentor is a no-brainer, while team lunch or dinner makes personal introductions fun and social.
3. Make them feel prepared
A new job comes with an avalanche of paperwork to fill out and new information to take in. Avoid first-day overload by telling new employees as much as you feasibly can before they start. Send all standard HR paperwork, share logins for tech tools, provide organisational charts, record a video tour of the company. Whatever it takes to help them spend Day 1 feeling informed and excited, not overwhelmed.
4. Make them feel like they belong
We recently blogged about workplace belonging: the idea that employees should feel free to be themselves at work, so that they can contribute the full force of their unique perspective in their role. Start the process before they join by creating a team Whatsapp group for informal introductions or setting up a video call with their mentor ahead of their start date.
5. Make them feel useful
No new hire wants to feel like a spare wheel and there is no Day 1 question more awkward to ask than “Is there anything I can do?” Integrate them straight into their role by briefing their team to provide small but useful tasks. As well as giving them an immediate sense of their value, it’s the best way to get them up to speed on team workflow, communication, expectations, deadline rules etc.
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