The first day at a new job should be the beginning of a great new adventure. For new employees, it is usually filled with some trepidation and excitement. It’s not unusual for them to “test-drive” the travel route to their new job in advance to make sure they’re not late on the first day. They put on their best work clothes and turn up early. They are enthusiastic about their future and what might be possible.
Unfortunately some companies are entirely unprepared to capture and exploit this excitement. They view new employee inductions as just another item on their “to do” list. Consequently, the excitement is quickly lost by the new employee and is replaced by lethargy and frustration.
Here is a real life example of a 26 year old employee’s first day at her new job:
“I arrive 30 minutes early and walk around the block until it is time to go inside. I am so excited I could burst. This is my big break and I can’t wait to get started. I announce to the receptionist my name and that I am starting work today in the marketing department. I ask her to call Wally and let him know I have arrived. She gives me a quizzical look and tells me that Wally works from home on Mondays and won’t be in today. She asks me to take a seat while she calls him. I hear Wally tell the receptionist that he thought I was starting next week. He instructs the receptionist to take me to my desk and give me some magazines to read.
Arriving at my desk I notice that is piled high with old computer screens and parts. Unsure of what to do with them, I leave them piled there. I sit at the desk for the entire day reading the two magazines provided from front to back. I try to appear busy. Other than the occasional smile from a passing co-worker no-one speaks to me. I don’t even know where the bathroom or kitchen is. I wait until half of the office staff has left before I think it is safe to leave for the day. Nobody says goodbye to me.
Later I hear that Wally lives less than 10 minutes from the office. I’m not sure why he didn’t drop in to the office to see me or, at the very least, phone to welcome me. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth and sours my first experience with the company.”
These types of stories are terrible and yet so avoidable. Employers should plan out a program for any new employees’ entire first month on the job. It is not enough to show them to their desk, give them a couple of manuals to read, or a pile of work to do, and leave them to their own devices. This is the “drone” style of induction where nobody is treated as an individual and everybody is just a number.
It is important to start well on the first day. Make a fuss of new employees. Introduce them to everyone and give them a full tour of your facilities. Prepare a folder for them with company background information and their individual work program for the first week and the first month. Have regular meetings with them to check on progress and to address any issues they may have. Assign them an office mentor to make sure they are comfortable with how everything operates. Do everything you can to make them feel at home as early as possible.
Research shows that more than 50% of Australian businesses give their employees a leaving gift – yet less than 1% gives a welcome gift on the first day. A welcome gift is a powerful message of support for new employees. It is a great, relatively inexpensive, way to recognize the importance of them joining the company. It also makes everybody feel good. Add this to your to-do list!
A bad first impression can taint a new employee’s perspective on a company, leading to a less than satisfactory relationship. If you’re organized this shouldn’t happen. Don’t be like Wally. His interpersonal and organizational skills can be summed up in one word – garbage!
Author Pearl Buck said that the young do not know enough to be prudent and therefore they attempt the impossible and achieve it, generation after generation. Harness this lack of prudence and enthusiasm by making a good first impression and then by keeping the standards high. You can’t lose with this approach. People will love you for it and respond positively. You might even keep them excited about their future with the company!