6 Ways to Improve a New Hire’s Experience

Your new hire is driving home from her very first day. What’s she feeling? What’s she going to tell her kids about Mom’s new job? When she wakes up at 3 a.m. anticipating Day 2, what’s on her mind?

There’s no question that an employee’s first day on the job—and the 89 days that follow—have a huge impact on retention, engagement and productivity. You can’t undo that first impression.

Here are six ways to make your new-hire orientation more memorable and meaningful:

1) Make it a celebration. It doesn’t take much to create a little ruckus. A few balloons, a cupcake or a little bling can go a long way. Even a big poster board on their cube with a “We’re so glad you’re here” signed by the team sets a tone of celebration.

Whatever you do, make it sincere and personal. Someone’s first day in a new job is a big deal—show them they’re important to you, too.

2) Connect through stories. Tell some stories about what it’s really like to work here. Be strategic in your messaging to reinforce key values—you want to inspire, but even more important, you want to connect.

“How I learned this the hard way” stories or even funny “Whatever you do, don’t make this crazy mistake” stories are a great way to make a human connection.

3) Create a family welcome kit. Take them to lunch to learn a bit more about them and the other important people in their lives. Before they leave at the end of the day, pull together a gift bag: logo lollipops for the kids, a branded coffee mug for the spouse, even a branded Frisbee to play catch with their friends.

This one requires a bit of pre-planning to build your stash, but once you have it, it’s easy to pull together some personalized fun that shows you’re paying attention to your people’s lives beyond work.

4) Let them do something productive. So many companies spend the first day giving new hires a fire hose of information. It can be a lot to retain.

Try mixing up the orientation with a bit of real work that lets them add value immediately and get a taste of the role. Punctuating the learning with some doing helps build confidence.

5) Make it really easy to ask questions. Assign them one of the most approachable peers as a buddy and encourage them to ask anything they want. They may be embarrassed to ask you or HR—do everything you can to reduce anxiety.

6) Help them build a plan. Identify a few key people in various departments that can help accelerate their learning curve and make some introductions. Then, set some follow-up appointments for the first few weeks.

Recently named on Inc’s list of Most Innovative Leadership Speakers and American Management Association’s 50 Leaders to Watch, Karin Hurt helps leaders from around the world achieve breakthrough results without losing their souls.