Good companies know that a solid on-boarding program is about more than first impressions – it gives new recruits the best chance of success in their new organisation. Great companies know the best way to do this is by welcoming new recruits, by giving them the chance to bond with your people and thereby, with the company itself.

While the differences between ‘on-boarding’ and ‘welcoming’ might seem a matter of semantics, it’s not.

There is a big gap between what you have to do with new people to make them operate well in their role (which is about your needs), versus what you want to do to help them excel in their person (which is about them). This shift in intentions separates good companies from great ones and quick turnovers from longer tenures.

A warm reception

Would you welcome a houseguest into your home the same way you on-board?

A swift tour of the house; pointing out where their room is; the linen; the bathroom; giving them short bios and weekly schedules of each family member as you pass them by; spelling out a few house rules as you walk through the kitchen and tell them to help themselves to complimentary beverages, ‘but don’t touch Kevin’s kale juice’… Leaving them on the couch with a firm handshake, a key, a courtesy umbrella and a sympathetic looking dog.

While I appreciate there are inherent differences between home and workspaces, I also think there is enough psychological similarities to make a fair comparison.

Your company culture is a key reason this person decided to join your organisation; they’re seeking alignment with what you and your people are about.

Diving straight into the practicalities of a role and the environment, while important, is not the way to achieve this.

If you want your new work-family member to feel like they belong and that they can trust you, first impressions need to be genuinely warm.

Similarly, everything after this in the welcoming/orientating process needs to be done with a personalised touch that further emulates your people-based culture. If it feels clinical to you it will feel the same, or worse, to them.

Let your people do the talking

Prior to the day that a new person starts, ensure everyone is aware that they are starting and that their name is known… and maybe a little extra about them. Especially those in their immediate department.

What makes your company great? Why did you hire them? …Whatever that is, start there! Introduce them to champions of your company culture, check out videos of a company held family day; photos from the social events etc. If you know they play a musical instrument, or chess, or computer games, or are into fitness or whatever… introduce them to other team members who can share these passions with them.

Let the right people do the talking…

On-boarding programs often fall to an EA instead of the new employee’s immediate manager. Don’t let this be your first impression.

Wow them, don’t numb them

Booking the boardroom for three days and having different people tag-team presentations might be convenient for you, but you’re missing a chance to create connections and supply an environment where they can assimilate information more effectively.

Social impressions

At a bare minimum, you should have a lunch organised with their team in those first days. Ensure they always have someone to lunch with during the first weeks too. Show them where the good foods are and who makes the best coffee… Small, caring gestures speak volumes about the calibre, class, and charisma of your people.

Check in, often

Monitor their progress – make this a formal check in once a week for the first few weeks and ebb this out to how often feels suitable for that individual, and for you reckoning on their progress. Remember, even after six months they’re still relatively new.

Don’t abandon them because they (hopefully) seem settled in. There’s still a lot to learn – on both your behalves.

If you and their team can confidently say you know how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking in regards to their work, where their competencies are growing, and what else they need to know… you’re doing it right. You’re the welcoming party that got the new recruit totally on-board with what your company is all about and you’ll benefit from their loyalty and valuable contributions for years to come.

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