By: Liz Sheffield
Properly welcoming new hires is of paramount importance, especially during a labor shortage. After working to recruit new employees, you must create an onboarding experience that makes them feel welcome. If you don’t, you risk losing the investment you made in hiring them. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that “69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.”
When you think about how to welcome a new employee to the team, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Simply think about what it’s like to start a new job. New employees need communication, connections, and a consistent plan to set them up for success.
How to Properly Welcome a New Team Member
Once you have hired a new employee, start welcoming them—even before they’ve arrived at your workplace. Be sure you’re reaching out early and often to start building a rapport and sense of connection with your organization.
Communicate with new hires before the start date
The time before the employee’s first day is critical. It’s likely they are excited about their new role, eager to contribute, and a little worried about how they will fit in and what it’s like “on the inside.” In addition to excitement, they may be a bit anxious and nervous, which is why the preparation regarding how to welcome a new employee to the team is so important.
Many employees have horror stories of their onboarding experience or lack thereof. People complain about not knowing when or where to arrive for work. Some people aren’t given their manager’s name or arrive only to learn that the person with whom they interviewed has left the organization. Others have no idea how they should prepare for their first day.
Prevent this type of experience by communicating early and often with new hires. Use the following ways to connect with and support the new employee’s transition, even before their first day:
Send a welcome letter or packet
Send a welcome email, letter, or packet that lets them know what to expect in the coming weeks. Inform them about their start date, first-week schedule, orientation classes, directions to the worksite, and who they should ask for on their first day. Organizations that follow a dress code or which have uniforms should alert new employees about expected attire early, so they have time to prepare.
Connect on Linkedin
If the new hire has a profile on LinkedIn, consider sending them a welcome note and invite other team members to do the same. Reaching out individually helps build a sense of camaraderie, makes the employee feel supported, and provides a way for them to ask questions before the first day. It also gives the new employee a chance to put names with faces and learn a little about their team members before they begin their new job.
Invite them to the onboarding platform
Many companies have an employee benefits communication software that provides new employees with information about benefits, company culture, new hire paperwork, and other relevant employment topics. Ensure that you schedule the onboarding notification to be sent in a timely manner, so the employee has time to review before coming to work. Connect with your legal team to address any pay-related requirements for employees who complete these tasks prior to the first day. Even more than checking the box for required forms, this is when your core values communication process begins for new employees.
Make sure their work station is inviting
You’ll set the stage for success if the new employee arrives on their start date to find their work station is ready and in order. Coordinate with the IT and facilities teams to make sure the desk and equipment will be ready on day one. Consider making a welcome sign, card, or a small gift box of company items for them when they arrive.
Companies that take the extra step to make new employees feel welcome from before day one are more likely to foster employee engagement than those that wait. Your goal with how to welcome a new employee to the team is to make them feel like they belong and that you appreciate that they’ve joined the organization. How to welcome a new employee to the team should be an essential part of your employment engagement strategies.
Inform and involve the entire team about the new hire’s arrival
As you plan on how to welcome a new employee to the team, informing your team about the new hire’s arrival is an essential step. This reduces the opportunities for confusion and also helps existing employees feel informed and involved.
There are easy ways to lay the groundwork for strong team relationships if you create the opportunity for employees to connect:
Send a new hire announcement
Not everyone is comfortable introducing themselves on day one. The manager should send an introductory note to the team on an employee’s first day. For new executive-level employees, you’ll likely want to use your employee communication software to distribute a message introducing the new leader. Encourage the team to reach out via Slack, email, DM, or in-person to welcome the new employee.
Schedule a team lunch
There’s only so much getting to know each other that can happen in the office. Once you know the new employee’s start date, get a team lunch on everyone’s calendar for some time during the first week. This lunch is a way for the team to officially welcome and connect with the new person. In terms of how to welcome a new employee to the team, it’s essential to make time for this now—once the new employee has been in their new job for a few weeks, time for this type of lunch may be limited due to workload.
Assign an onboarding buddy
When you’re new to a team, it helps to have one person you can meet with regularly to ask questions and learn insights about working in the organization. Some people may naturally find this person on their own, but don’t leave this important role to chance. Make sure you assign an onboarding buddy to new employees. It will be a relief for them to know you’ve taken this much care to ensure a smooth transition. Making an employee feel welcome takes much more than a great first day, or even a great first week. Depending on the arrangement, an onboarding buddy can offer dedicated support for the new employee for 30, 60, 90 days or even longer.
Create a plan and schedule
A new employee wants to know what is expected of them. Managers should block time in their calendar to regularly meet with a new employee one-on-one during the first weeks to set expectations and provide necessary training. In addition, the team should include the new employee in meetings to help them understand current projects, timelines, and deliverables. Provide this plan and schedule on the first day, so the new team member is informed about what they’ll be doing.
When you consider how to welcome a new employee to the team, think about it as though you were inviting someone to come to your house. You want them to feel at ease, to know where things are located, and who they can ask for help. You want them to feel so welcome that they’ll want to stay. It’s the same for a new employee—their first few days have a lasting impact on their perceptions about your organization. Put the effort into making their first experiences with your organization positive, and it’s much more likely they will stay.