October 25, 2014

How to Keep the Best: Welcome Them with Open Arms

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Well-begun is half done applies to all of life’s challenges. And for building employee loyalty, keeping the best employees, it’s a perfect truism.

I wrote last time that keeping your best employees really comes down to the culture you create at your company. You want  a corporate culture where they go home happy every day and they want to come back the next day.

I shared some resources and tips to insure you recruit the best pool of potential candidates as well as how to interview to insure you hire the best.

And now your employees leave happy and return happy.

And you’ve recruited and hired the best.

And their first day is tomorrow.

You want to keep your culture intact.  You and your team created such momentum as you worked together to recruit, interview and hire this new star. Keep it going.

Well-begun is half done.

Here’s how to make sure the first days with your new hire serve as a perfect beginning for you both.

Make sure you welcome this new employee  with open arms from the moment they walk in the door.

Here’s a checklist to make sure this happens:

Balance the added work. Training a new person only doubles the workload of your existing employees.  Make sure you balance this added work among your employees.  You don’t want to take 1 step forward with hiring a great new person and 2 steps back when one or two current employees grow resentful from an inordinate share of the work, work they weren’t prepared to absorb.

Tip: Offer to help. Offer your time in training the new person. That enables you to develop a good relationship with this new hire from the beginning.  It also shows the importance to everyone that you place on training.

Prepare a welcoming committee. That welcoming committee is everyone on  the team where this new hire will work. In a smaller, startup, company that might be everyone in the company. And it might be just one person.

Assign tasks, schedule meetings, prepare training materials, to the members of your committee.  These tasks should be welcomed…while recognizing it does add to their workload.

Why?

This new hire is going to help them. And they’ve participated in the recruiting and interviewing to choose this person.

Assign a buddy. For want of a better term, assign one person on their new team to insure all the items on the committee’s to-do list are complete before they arrive. And, to be the new hire’s go-to person for questions like:

  • Where’s the coat closet? Is there a coat closet?
  • Where’s the coffee?
  • Where do they park?
  • Where’s the bathroom, including needed keys or doorcodes?
  • Where do they get supplies?
  • Training schedule
  • Network passwords
  • etc

Greet them at the door. Make sure the new hire is greeted at the door before they enter the building. Nothing creates a warmer feeling for a new employee relationship than being greeted at the door on their first day. It shows how important they are and how excited you are to have them join your company.

Some added flourishes include:

  • Meet them for coffee before they arrive at work.
  • Decorate their parking spot.
  • Have everyone greet them at the front door.

Prepare their work area. It’s a doh! point. And it happens too often regardless of company size that a new hire’s desk/work area isn’t prepared.

It’s like telling your in-laws to sit in your spare bedroom for awhile until you get around to fixin’ it up.  Not a good start.

Have their work area prepared and clean. That includes all the equipment they’ll need to be productive and engaged from the moment they reach this area. Computers networked and loaded with proper applications; desk, chair, pens, notepads are available…an ATV, too, if it’s required.

I once started work as a Marketing Director with no desk, no chair, no computer. And no one to ask. I brought my own laptop and network cable and dug around for a desk and a chair. We got through it.

 Prepare their training schedule. Have it ready, in writing,  to show them when they arrive. It should answer these questions:

  • Who’s training them?
  • What’s being trained?
  • When they’re being trained?
  • Where they’re being trained?
  • Why?

And it should include the materials they’ll need.

It empowers them to manage their time and expectations and see a broader perspective. It also helps minimize the uncertainties, stress, from the start of a new job. Nothing creates doubts in the minds of a new hire that they joined the right company than sitting idle with no direction forward.

Feed them.   Take them to lunch or dinner. When and where should be left to them and your current colleagues. The first day may not be the best. Ask them and your current employees for what works for them.

Make it a group activity. If not, then leave it to their buddy. I don’t recommend the CEO take them separately unless it’s routine for the CEO to take meals with individual employees.

Announce their arrival. Press releases are standard for executives as they join a new company.

Issue a press release internally. Tout their skills and talents and your delight at their joining your company. Personalize it with a picture.

Blog about it. 37Signals, the makers of the wiki Basecamp,  welcomed their newest employee with an introduction on their very popular blog: Introducing our new designer: Jamie Dihiansan.

Announce it to your partners and vendors. It’s flattering to the new hire. It builds their confidence. And it will smooth their first interactions with your partners and vendors. That will make them effective from their first call or email.

Your vendors will appreciate the close communication that insures a smooth start for this new relationship.

Idea: Why not issue a press release for your newest front-line employee**? ( Who spends more of their time influencing a customer’s impression of your brand than your front-line employees?)

Well-begun is half done.  Follow these steps and you’re half-way to your goal of sending your employees home every night happy. And that’s the half-way mark to insuring they want to come back the next day and the day after and the day after….

I’ll show you how to get all the way home in the next post. I’ll share some tips and stories on how to insure the experience of the first day is continued most days, if not every day.

** This idea came to me as I wrote this post. As I’ve edited this post, it still seems like a good idea. What do you think?

*********************

 

About the Author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit. And he regularly interviews guest in social media and customer evangelism at his BlogTalk Radio show.

 

12 Comments ▼

Zane Safrit


Zane Safrit Zane Safrit's My passion is small business and the operations' excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. Zane's blog is Zane Safrit.

12 Reactions

  1. Well, it is Zane.

    But these two points you mentioned:
    # Decorate their parking spot.
    # Have everyone greet them at the front door.

    — Are quite OA.

  2. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make a difference. Good checklist, Zane.

    For employees or even contractors who work remotely, I would add that sending a friendly welcome email is a good idea.

    — Anita

  3. Excellent points Zane, all of them. You mention feeding them. I used to work for a small privately owned company that was family run for years and whenever we’d hire someone new, the boss would always buy lunch for everyone that day. We’d all eat in the conference room together and stay as long as the conversation continued. We were all allowed to relax and talk openly with the new employee and it was a day to just get everyone comfortable. No work deadlines that day, no firm lunch hour . . . just kinda a “get to know ya” day. And it always worked. By the second day, the new employee was usually cheerfully approaching other employees because a bond was formed during the previous days activities.

  4. This is a really good list. My previous employer took no time out to make a new hire feel welcome. They always considered them lucky to even have the job and thought they should learn by watching. I know it had to have made the new person feel so out of place and uncomfortable. I guess that’s why a lot of hires never came back the second day.

    I think it’s a really nice idea to assign one person as their “guide”. It will give them that sense of ease to know that they have a specific person they can depend on for guidance and help.

  5. Another great read, Zane. The importance of making a new hire feel welcome cannot be focused upon enough. It can literally make or break the employment arrangement. As Amanda stated, I have worked places where new hires did not return on the second day. Now what’s that tell you? Tell me that the employer, employees and the environment affected them so negatively – they didn’t care to return. Money or no money. Now that’s bad.

  6. Arthur Bland: OA?

    This post took longer to write than normal. I kept revisiting some of the great and some of the bizarre experiences I’ve experienced with new hires and their/our first day. Maybe at a conference we’ll have a talent show and we can do skits…just using real-life experiences. Some of them are too funny….now. Some remain inspiring. Both helped me articulate in this post, what to do and what not to do.

    Anita, sending a welcome email the day/night before is a great idea, also.

    Amanda, I think I worked there once….It sounds familiar. LOL.

    Chris. You know if you’re going to “do a meal”, that plan you describe sounds the best. Both from the meal and the experience and the results.

    Thanks, all.

  7. Zane – great stuff. I want to work for a company that welcomes new employees like that. I would add that you clearly set the expectations. As part of letting them know the training schedule, let them know when you expect they’ll begin producing work or let them know that you aren’t expecting them to produce until they’ve been trained.

    When I started at Pearle Vision as a store manager I went through tons of training on selling and reports and understanding the P&L but everyday I’d start with the same question: when will you teach me to make glasses. Everyday my boss brushed off the questison and said “oh, you’ll pick that up.”

    To me the most important thing we did was make the glasses and as each day went by, I became more and more stressed. I knew there was an expectation that I would make glasss and yet no information as to how I would learn. It created an unnecessary level of stress each day I went to work.

    So I would say, set expectations.

    I did eventually learn to make glasses and also learned why he brushed it off – it is like making keys – not as difficult as you might imagine. If only he’d told me that.

  8. Hey Zane,

    Very poignant subject, especially in these times where lots of staff are moving around. I especially like the point about quickly announcing the person to partners and customers to show how valuable they are to the business.

    Like a growing number of small businesses, we use virtual staff in addition to local employees to run our business. Your points are still very applicable but have some different tactics to make it happen.

    I talked about these and how some of these can even boost their Internet Marketing efforts on our blog.

    http://www.hip3.com/2008/09/maximizing-a-new-virtual-team-member/

    Thanks again for the great post!

    Jon

  9. [...] you’re not sure, consider upgrading your onboarding process using the following guidelines. 1. Make new employees feel welcome. A gift basket, a group breakfast to introduce the new face, or other courtesies can help ease the [...]

  10. Excellent suggestions, all of them. Nothing makes a person more welcome than a greeting, a schedule, a mentor and all the needed support materials.

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