how to help new employees be productive from day one

Everyone’s been a new employee at some point. Do you remember how you felt on the first day of your current job? Probably some strange combination of hopeful, nervous and excited about the opportunity before you. As an employer it’s critical to respect those feelings and make your new hires feel welcome and like a part of the team from day one.

An employee’s first day on the job sets the tone for the rest of their employment and ensures they’re able to be productive as soon as possible. An awful onboarding process can not only scare away great people, it can lead to unnecessary, avoidable mistakes. The first step is to be prepared and create an onboarding plan for each new employee. Below are a few ways you can help new hires settle into their role on their first day, so they can hit the ground running.

how you can help new hires start strong

have their workstation set up

Having new employees’ workstation and logins set up before they start is a small thing, but it’s a meaningful one. The last minute scramble to obtain a space and computer login for a new employee the day they start adds stress that’s completely unnecessary for both of you. So do everyone a favour and have all the logistical details planned out ahead of time. It looks more professional and says you care enough to anticipate their arrival.

avoid an information dump

New employees are already going through a big life change their first day on the job. No matter how experienced they are, every workplace is different and that means adapting to a new work environment and ways of working. Often employers drop bucket loads of information on employees on their first day. They’re introduced to everyone in the office (good luck remembering all those names!) given packages of forms to fill out, and view dozens of PowerPoint slides introducing them to the company. It can be a lot for anyone to absorb.

break down company policies

You’d be surprised how many organizations drop new employees into their role without giving them a rundown of the rules and processes they should know about. Being blindsided by a company policy (or worse an unspoken rule everyone but you seems to know about) isn’t a good feeling. If you have processes, rules or a specific way of completing tasks that need to be respected, new employees should be filled in as soon as possible, before they settle into their own routine.

set up a buddy system

It’s easier to become familiar with a new workplace when there’s a designated coworker nearby who’s available for questions or support. Even better, set up the new employee to shadow another more experienced employee, to get the full, immersive experience. Though having a manager show new employees the ropes is a start, it can be helpful to have someone who won’t be their boss available. No matter how approachable their manager is, it can be intimidating for new employees to pester their newly minted boss with endless questions. New employees want to make a good impression and show they’re capable, so they’ll often avoid asking their boss questions, even when they’re unsure.

set expectations

Starting a new role is stressful. No matter how qualified or experienced the new employee is, every role comes with a learning curve to grasp the intricacies of a new workplace. Provide clear insights on what’s expected, and what they can contribute to your team, especially in their first few days. What KPIs should they know about? Are there certain processes  or procedures they need to follow? What are the highest priority tasks on their plate? Who should they come to with questions? All these things are helpful for new employees to be briefed on.

get leaders involved

Ask the leaders in your department to drop by to welcome new employees and introduce themselves within the first few days. This shows a genuine desire to get to know employees and welcome them as a part of your team. It also helps break down hierarchical barriers and breaks up the top-down management style. Forcing employees to communicate up the management chain through their direct leader is becoming a dated leadership style. Introducing new employees to key leaders ensures they have a foundation so if they need to work together down the line, they already have a connection.

have them work on a team

One of the best ways to help a new employee integrate into their role is to have them start with team-based projects. Team projects allow new workers to get to know their colleagues, who can also provide support and guidance as the new employee settles into their role. The new employee is able to contribute their skills and knowledge without being solely responsible for the success of the project. This is a good way to introduce them to your processes and help them acclimate to a different way of working than they may be used to.

encourage questions

Make it clear from day one that questions are welcome. New employees are often given a lot of information to process in their first few days. They’re bound to have follow up questions, or need some information reiterated. Setting up an environment where questions are encouraged will make sure that new employees feel comfortable getting the information they need to do their job to the best of their ability. 

ask for feedback

Onboarding is one of the most challenging parts of starting a new job. Expectations and needs differ from employee to employee. No matter how much you refine your onboarding process, there’s always room for improvement. Ask new employees for feedback, or if there’s anything they’d like to see integrated into onboarding, or that they feel uncertain about. This can help you strengthen your onboarding process for the next employee.

need help developing your onboarding process? our HR consulting team can offer the support you need to create a custom onboarding process that works for your team.

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