What Should An Employee’s First Day Look Like?

You’ve sifted through resumes, you’ve sat through countless rounds of interviews, you’ve extended an offer, and you’ve lined up a start date.

But now what? You want your new employee to have a fantastic first day – you want them to feel welcomed, start building relationships with their teammates, get a taste for what their day-to-day work life will look like, and also fill out all that pesky paperwork for HR.

So how do you cram all this stuff into one 8 (or so!) hour window and make your new employee feel valued and part of the team? And how can a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) come to the rescue?

Be prepared:
Possibly the most important thing you can do ahead of someone’s first day is to have a plan. Not having anything prepared makes the new employee feel that they are at best, an afterthought, and at worst, a burden. Spend a little time ahead of the day figuring out an itinerary and share that plan with the existing team and new hire so that they know what to expect.

It can, of course, include some time for them to do independent activities – such as fill in that HR paperwork – but it shouldn’t be vague or include time for them to “play around” or “figure out” a system that is new to them. Instead, if you want them to get acquainted with the computer system, for example, have them sit with someone who is experienced or someone from IT to walk them through it and show the key features.

A PEO can help you develop an onboarding plan for you so you never have to worry about making sure you are prepared. Checklists and best practices from years of experience will make the new employees first day less stressful for you, and in turn the new hire—you’ll both know what to do and what is expected.

Divide and conquer:
Unless you are a very small operation and you are going to be the new hires boss, manager and teammate, there’s no real reason why you as the small business owner have to play host for the entire day. It will be a much more informative – and engaging– for the new hire if they get to spend time with a couple of key folks in the company. Perhaps you could spend the first hour making the introductions and then send them over to HR to go over the benefits and paperwork aspect, then let them meet with their manager to talk more specifically about their new role, and then perhaps sit with someone from IT about getting their computer set up.

Other opportunities include finding someone they can have lunch with—who wants to sit alone on their first day or try and find a good place to eat in an area they are unfamiliar with? Another idea is to have them shadow a member of the team that has a similar job title or description and thus can give them some tips and tricks to get them started.

Make connections:
When a new person comes on board, the instinct might be to parade them around the office and give them a quick introduction to everyone. However, you can elevate this introduction by sending an email out to staff discussing the name of the candidate, what their title will be, where they will be working, and perhaps where they have moved from to join your company. This way, your existing staff will have a jumping off point to engage with the new employee when the opportunity arises.

Another idea? When introducing them in person to their team, say a little bit about what special skills they bring to the table or what facet of the work they will be taking over – in this way, you are able to praise the employee while also demonstrating to your existing workforce how the new hire will fit in and where they may need help.

Now is also the time to introduce them to a mentor or other individual that can serve as their touchstone to answer any and all questions they might have about the industry, their role, the clients, or other aspects of the job.

Setting up a mentor program where new hires are paired with more seasoned employees is a great way to reward those who have been there and advantageous for the new person who will have someone to ask all their getting acquainted questions to. In addition, the new person is more likely to ask what they feel like are silly questions—which is expected because they are new after all—to a mentor over their new boss or supervisor.

Make them feel at home:
Nothing says “unprepared” quite like not having a spot for your new hire to sit. Figure out ahead of time where they should sit to best be integrated in to the team and then make sure they have all the basics that they need to get their job done: A computer that is connected and set up, a phone with a working extension, a comfortable chair, any necessary office supplies, and adequate lighting.

This is also a wonderful opportunity to provide them with a physical copy of your employee handbook, any manuals/briefs, a set of business cards or information on how to order them, their employee badge or other identification. To really make them feel at home, gift them a plant, some company-themed swag, or another memento that can brighten up their workspace.

Spend time shuffling papers:
A big component of the first day that must not be overlooked is that of setting up a time to go over the HR angle of things. Your employee needs to be walked through the various HR forms – which can be provided in digital and/or paper copies – explain terms of various health insurance and benefit offerings, help them to set up direct deposit and other perks, and answer any questions they have.

At this point, you should also walk them through the employee handbook, drawing their attention to especially salient points, and reminding them that it is their job to review it and sign and date the document at the end stating that they agree to its terms.

The employee handbook is an essential tool and the HR experts at a PEO are more happy to help you with any aspect of developing it, reviewing and updating it or ensuring that your new hire understands and complies with its terms.

Set up a schedule:
You may have a schedule for the first day, but you’ll also want to talk to your new hire about what kind of training they will need to help them get fully up to speed with their new role. Not sure what they’ll need to get the job done? No worries! A PEO offers a variety of training options covering everything from federally required training to individual pieces of training on certain facets of various operating systems or industry tools. Just let them know what you have in mind, and they will help you to develop a schedule that builds upon itself without overwhelming your new hire or skipping over the important stuff.

Close out the day:
At the end of the day include a quick 15-minute debrief with you to review the day on the itinerary. How do they think it went? Do they need help with the paperwork? Do they have everything they need at their desk? Do they need any extra help in any one area? And, perhaps most importantly, do they have any questions for you?

As always, if you have any questions about how to best welcome a new employee – or manage any facet of the onboarding process – feel free to reach out to a PEO. Their outsourced human resources experts can help out with the employee handbook, the benefits overview, the training itinerary and development and just about everything else related to bringing a new employee onboard.