Insight. Innovation. Industry.
Human Resources /  •

New hire? Here’s how to put out the welcome mat

Easing a colleague’s first-day jitters makes for a happy workplace in the long term

welcome new employees

We’ve all had the first-day jitters. You thought getting through the interview was going to be the hard part. Now you realize you have no idea what to expect when you walk through the door.

You anxiously prepare. You put on your best “get-serious” attire. You review the paperwork you were asked to bring. You check the address of your new workplace 60 times before leaving the house just to make sure it didn’t somehow change in the last few minutes. As nervous as you are, however, you go in as ready as you can be to tackle the challenges of the day.

Lack of first-day prep is embarrassing to everyone

And it can be disappointing if you get to work only to find that your desire to make a good first impression isn’t being met in kind. What if there’s a meeting and there’s no one there to greet you? Even worse, what if you don’t have a workspace to call your own? Lack of preparation on the part of a company can be embarrassing for both parties and should be avoided to guarantee that a new hire feels a sense of belonging. That’s why many credit unions have a formal onboarding process to bring a new member into the team.

Why does onboarding matter?

Onboarding is a means of managing the first few weeks to months of an employee’s tenure. The process is there to make employees feel welcome and to help guide their development so they can be productive right from the outset.

Onboarding makes new employees feel welcome and helps them to be product more quickly

“The most important part of onboarding an employee is setting them up for success early,” say Darryl King and Ashley Nichols, human resources advisors at the $1.7-billion Coastal Community Credit Union, which has 25 branches throughout British Columbia. They help manage and maintain an internal program called Coastal Compass that has seen a lot of positive results. They have several practices in place to make sure that first day goes smoothly. Coastal offers the following advice.

1. Inform the team when a new hire is expected

Also, ensure that a supervisor takes time to make meaningful introductions The average full-time employee will spend more time at work with co-workers than at home with family in a standard work week, King and Nichols say. So it’s in everyone’s best interest that the relationships that form among staff are strong, respectful and lasting.

Surprising existing staff with a new hire can seem threatening. By contrast, just knowing a manager plans to bring on someone new can go a long way towards mentally preparing your team to be attentive and aware. If a manager is particularly swamped, he or she might even ask another employee to work with the newcomer, using a “buddy” system to ensure they ease in nicely.

2.  All systems, passwords and workstations are ready

This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes managers don’t carve out enough time to onboard a new staff member. As such, even the best intentioned sometimes miss seemingly small and important details. Having no workstation or passwords says loud and clear, “We’re not ready for you.” That can be particularly demoralizing.

3. Have an open talk about expectations on both sides

Many employers add a new hire to the staff pool, make the introductions – then fail to check in again until the end of the day. Reviewing the employee’s job description, having a frank conversation about what you need from newcomers and giving them the time to explain what they need from you will help to avoid any miscommunication down the line.

4. Ongoing onboarding

It doesn’t stop there. The team at Coastal Community explains that even though they focus heavily on the first few days and weeks of an employee’s time at the office, onboarding is considered to be a six- month process. That factors in training and guidance through the several different departments of the business. The system is critical to employee development, and reviews of the program have been great.

In the end, if you can turn a scary transition into a smooth introduction, everyone will be better for it. Keep that in mind next time it’s your turn to bring a new friend into the fold. ◊