Picture a new hire walking into an unfamiliar place full of people they don’t know with only an office map and a heavy handbook for guidance. They feel nervous, isolated and lost. They’re not sure how to act or who to turn to for help.
Onboarding can be lonely but it doesn’t have to be a solo venture, and HR professionals aren’t the only ones with the power to make the new kid on the block feel comfortable. Existing employees can do their part to help new hires feel welcome in their new work environment.
Getting the team involved in the onboarding process is critical because it brings employees — new and old — closer together, and office friendships breed better work and happier employees. According to Globoforce’s Fall 2014 Mood Tracker Report, employees with friends at work are 47 percent more likely to love their companies.
Here are a few creative ways to get the team more involved in the onboarding process:
1. Introduce new hires to the company on a Friday.
The team is busy. Breaking up their day with new hire activities and events may seem like a welcome change of pace, but it could be viewed as an annoying interruption. A busy Monday morning is not be the best time to take current employees away from their desks to bond with a new hire. Instead, introduce new hires to the team on a Friday when everyone is more relaxed and may have some downtime.
Better yet, think of other opportunities for making great first impressions — an all-company meeting before the new hire starts, a company party or a departmental outings. See if there’s a fun alignment on office calendars before a new hire begins. When employees have greater freedom to talk and get to know their new co-worker without sacrificing their work, everyone can make a new employee’s first day a good start.
2. Use the buddy system.
There’s a lot to learn and a lot to remember in the onboarding process, and new hires can be easily overwhelmed. Don’t let new hires go it alone.
Assign each new hire a buddy or mentor to help with the transition. Buddies can be there to answer questions, give them tips and tricks for the job and provide support. With a buddy system in place, new hires will get more out of the onboarding process, become acclimated to the company and position faster and feel more connected to the team.
In fact, a recent Google survey of 258 North American companies found that 88 percent of respondents who strongly agreed that their company supports knowledge-sharing and collaboration also strongly agreed that employee morale and job satisfaction were high. So, give current employees an active role in the onboarding process to lead new hires to success.
3. Create welcome traditions.
The onboarding process should include an introduction to individual team members and to the company as a whole. To do that, and to get current team members excited and involved in the process, start unique traditions to welcome new employees.
At A/B testing platform Commerce Sciences, for example, the last employee who joined the team is responsible for creating a starter kit for the next new employee. Employees fill these kits with whatever they want — there are no rules and no limits on their creativity. The kits have included everything from books to coffee to nerf gun darts.
No matter what the employees fill the kits with, they get excited to be a part of the onboarding process and new employees get a personalized welcome to make them feel more comfortable on their first day.
Find a welcome tradition that speaks to the organization and works for the team. It can be something simple like bringing in donuts and coffee from the team’s favorite spot down the block or more involved like a new hire happy hour — whatever gets the team enthusiastic about the process.
4. Give a team-led tour.
Anyone can show a new hire to their desk, the closest bathroom and where the boss sits. But only the team can point out which copy machine acts up, which nearby coffee shop has the best brew and to which conference rooms you should bring a sweater.
Have the team, or a select few, lead the new employee around the office to give them the lay of the land. This way, new hires can get an inside look at how the office functions and can learn ways to make their time in the office easier. At the same time, the tour can help to break the ice, make new hires more comfortable and bring the team closer together.
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