How to Make Your New Employees Feel Welcome

We’re still in the bright shiny beginnings of a new year, and if my LinkedIn feed is any indication, it’s a time when many of us begin new jobs. In fact, according to Fortune, ZipRecruiter data shows that job openings typically jump 15 percent in January, and that hires increase 30 percent from December to January. Add to that an unemployment rate near its lowest levels in 50 years and the result is that right now a whole lot of people are either starting or about to start new jobs.

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Questions about successfully welcoming new employees are some of the most frequent questions we get from managers, and for good reason: Good onboarding makes for happier and more productive workers, and those thriving new hires are much more likely to stay with their employers. High retention saves costs, and that can be particularly pronounced in a tight labor market (like the one we’re in now).

Here are some guidelines for rolling out the welcome mat in the most meaningful ways.

1. Start engaging right after the hire (aka “pre-boarding”)

Many job-changers report feeling anxious during the time between accepting a new job and starting it. When weeks pass with no communication from a new employer, it’s natural for new hires to start second-guessing their decision and going into worry overdrive. If the new employee is your direct report, take time to send a friendly email soon after the offer is formally accepted. Make it clear you’re available for questions. Follow that up with direct outreach from one of your team members. Taking these steps can be powerful boosts to an incoming employee’s buy-in to the company even before they arrive.

2. Prepare your team

Don’t let your new hire be greeted on his or her first day with surprised stares. Give your staff a heads-up through an email, all-hands announcement or both. Ideally your team will have met its newest member during the interview process, but even so, offer some personalized info about your hire’s background and experience. Share why you’re excited about the addition to the team and make welcoming new employees warmly part of your team culture. This will all help your team get fired up for the new arrival.

3. Give your new hire a thorough office tour

Make time to walk around the office in its entirety. Explain where different departments or key personnel sit, and where practical things like office supplies, kitchens, bathrooms and snacks are located. Introduce your newbie to every member of the team he or she works on, as well as functional heads or peers they’ll be working with across your organization.

4. Arrange lunch plans for three or more days of the first week

Nothing hits on the insecurities born in the middle-school cafeteria like eating lunch alone at a new job. If you’re the manager and there isn’t a larger new-employee lunch, take your new report to lunch on their first day. Then arrange for others to do the same for a couple other days during the week. Include those both on your team and from areas your team works with most closely.

5. Schedule one-on-one meetings with everyone on the team

Few things matter at work more than relationships. Make it a priority from day one to help your newbie get to know teammates personally by scheduling dedicated time with each team member. Colleagues who understand one another’s interpersonal style and behavioral tendencies have a distinct advantage at work in terms of communicating well and resolving conflict productively.

6. Designate a mentor (when appropriate)

Particularly for more junior employees, assigning a mentor can let them know that someone stands ready to show them the ropes and help them problem-solve. Pair a new hire with a more experienced employee with whom they have no reporting relationship.

7. Assign a quick-win task or ask for input

Help your new hire jump right in by giving them an easy task they can finish within the first week on the job. For more senior hires, this may instead be a simple ask for input on a project you’re leading or a challenge that’s vexing. Either way, you want to set up your hire to begin contributing right away; this boosts their confidence and establishes that you trust them and are eager for their participation. Trust breeds trust — It’s one of the most important ingredients for high-performing, resilient teams. Showing trust right off the bat is a great way of welcoming new employees.

8. Check in after one week and again after one month

Ask your new hire for feedback or questions after week one, and truly listen to his or her responses. Make it clear that you are invested in his or her success. Repeat after one month, acknowledging the one-month milestone.

At the end of the day, much of welcoming new employees is a commitment – on the part of both the manager and the larger team – to the intention and time required to bring someone along. And honestly, that can feel tough in the fast-paced world of work. Keep in mind that robust onboarding directly correlates to increased engagement. You’ll reap daily rewards from your highly engaged coworker. When your next new hire arrives, extend that intention alongside your hand.