The first day is the most important day on job for a new employee. Since research shows that the success trajectory of a new hire is set as early as the first two weeks, it is important to make their first day a special one.  In onboarding, big things and little things matter. Therefore, orchestrating their first day can pay large dividends in the long run and creating unforgettable experiences will bond them to your organization.

Onboarding is a process of easing new hires smoothly into the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly; a process through which they learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors to function effectively in an organization. The degree to which an organization can welcome and prepare the new hires for their jobs determines the speed at which will they contribute to its mission and bottom line.

Proper onboarding is not only about first impressions. It also includes having a formal orientation program and a well written onboarding plan. In order to make it interesting and enduring, it helps to break it down into the following steps:

Before the new hire starts work, create an agenda for your new hires’ first week. Reach out to the new hires’ immediate manager and coworkers to determine what to include, and assign mentors.

Create a comfortable work station. A workstation is an employee’s own turf helping them feel more relaxed and confident. Fill the desk with any needed supplies and important documents such as an employee handbook and any enrollment paperwork.

Welcome the new hire with a gift. Welcoming the new hire with any branded material like a custom T-shirt, work bag, coffee mug, pens and pad of paper builds brand loyalty right away.

Send out helpful information. Include details on who to ask for on arrival, dress code, parking rules, directions to office to soothe any first day jitters.

During the first week, help new hires know the lay of the land. Conduct an office tour. Introduce the new hire to other staff along the way. Fill in essential information such as desk location, where the restrooms and break rooms are and where to find the copier and employee mailboxes.

Block time off for orientation. Let the new hires’ first day be an orientation day rather than a work day. Arrange a coworker to take the new employee for lunch and set aside time for filling out paperwork and casual conversation.

Organize a manager’s meeting. During the first week, setup a meeting with the new hire and his/her immediate manager. Use this time to let in the new employee on the on-job ramp up process in the first one or two months.

Cover important work processes. Take time to explain the email protocol, communication expectations, internal decision making processes, reporting tools, work scheduling software, internal communication software to the new hire. This is also a good time to set short term and long term goals.

The first 30-90 days:

  • Invest in training. Though productivity takes a hit, consider the new hires’ first 30-90 days on job as an initial training period. Once this introductory period is done, you’ll have a stronger worker to take on the job.
  • Allow for job shadowing. Cross training your employees by letting them shadow employees in every department of the company will give them a deeper understanding of how the organization works.
  • Build opportunities for real time feedback. Instill in new hires’ that they are free to pitch in new ideas. They may be reserved on the first day, but over time their feedback and insights will be forthcoming.

Finally, after 90 days on job, the manager should give the new hires their first evaluation. By now, the new hire should be fully integrated into the company and operating at full capacity. Identifying potential problems at this stage will nip them in the bud or terminate the new hires’ employment before too many resources are invested.

This step wise smooth transition of new hires into the thick of things will cocoon them from going down wrong tracks and giving it up on the organization before they had the opportunity to learn about it. Likewise, the organization will get to know the new hires enough so as to chalk out a growth plan for them making it a win-win for both. Once you conclude onboarding and your new hires are settled in, it’s important to do all you can to keep them happy and growing in their jobs.