First impressions count - in recruitment, this applies not only to events such as job interviews, but at least as much at the beginning of the employment relationship: on the first day of work. For the talent, a new job or even starting a new career is usually a radical step. New team members, new surroundings, new work processes - everyone remembers the first unfamiliar moments at the start of a new job. Thorough familiarisation, or onboarding, is essential to ensure that employees quickly feel at home in the company and settle into the team.
Successful onboarding promotes an emotional bond with the company, which in turn has a positive effect on employees' work motivation and productivity. Conversely, unstructured or inadequate onboarding can quickly lead to employees feeling demotivated and unappreciated - and in the worst case scenario, resigning within a few weeks. For the company, this means renewed costs and effort for the replacement and possibly even negative consequences for the company's reputation if ex-employees complain about the onboarding on public review portals.
This makes it all the more important to set the course for a successful collaboration on the first day at work. That's why I'd like to put together a few tips and hints here to help you optimise your new team member's first day at work.
A note in advance: Onboarding begins before the first day at work
A number of preparations are needed to give new employees the best possible welcome on their first day and to introduce them to everyday life at the company. Together with the respective team, you should draw up an induction plan in which all relevant organisational and content-related aspects are listed. In this context, a mentor should also be appointed to accompany the new team member during the first few weeks and act as a contact person. Depending on whether the onboarding takes place online or on site, the relevant workstation must be set up and hardware, software and access data provided.
If the first working day takes place on site, welcome folders are a good way to avoid any idle time and to read up on the most important things. The new talent will find information about the company, contact persons and relevant addresses. Similarly, PowerPoint presentations with corresponding links are also suitable for orientation during digital onboarding. By the way, you may remember that a few months ago I wrote an entire article with tips on digital onboarding. You can find it here.
Finally, the new employee should be informed in advance which documents (national insurance number, tax ID, etc.) they need to bring with them on their first day and what time they should report to the office. Once everything has been prepared, the new colleague will certainly be pleased to receive a small floral greeting or a welcome message in their mailbox on their first day.
Showing presence on the day itself is the be-all and end-all
Anyone who has ever experienced poor onboarding knows how demotivating it can be when no one seems to feel responsible for guiding the new talent. Showing presence is therefore essential for employee retention and successful onboarding. Ideally, the future manager should therefore meet and greet the new team member. This shows appreciation and preparation. All team members and, if applicable, the reception staff should be reminded of the new start in advance.
The manager accompanies the new team member to the workplace and explains the daily routine and induction plan. This should be followed by a relaxed introductory discussion about the company's goals, strategy and vision so that the new employee has a clearer idea of the company. Depending on capacity, the induction can also be carried out by the respective mentor, who accompanies the new team member on the first day and beyond. It is crucial to convey that questions of a professional, organisational or personal nature can be asked at any time - because the more questions are clarified at the beginning, the faster the new talent will feel secure and integrated.
The mentor then guides the new member through the company, shows them the canteen, coffee kitchen or mailroom, clarifies any concerns with the HR department and provides information on possible points of contact. During the tour, the other team members can be directly involved and introduced informally so that the new employees have already seen all their colleagues. This can be followed by familiarisation with the most important everyday tools. These include, for example, the intranet and internal communication channels, the introduction to databases or the company calendar.
There is usually already time for the lunch break, which should definitely be held together: The more team members who come along, the better, as this offers the ideal opportunity to get to know and familiarise yourself with each other. During the rest of the day, the specific tasks should be discussed again and the first small work steps handed over. But be careful: on the first day, new employees should not be given too many or too difficult tasks - this could lead to excessive demands and demotivation. It's better to take things a little easier, because the new faces, the new environment and new content are enough input for the very first day.
There is no such thing as perfect onboarding - but there is a successful one
There is always potential for optimisation and therefore every onboarding process also offers the opportunity to identify possible areas for improvement. As a manager or mentor, you should therefore seek a dialogue with the new team member at the end of their first working day if possible and ask for an initial assessment, feedback and feedback. How does the new talent feel? What information should possibly be included in the welcome pack? Was the input on the first day too much or too little? Are there any other suggestions or ideas? New employees come to the company with a fresh perspective and the feedback can be incorporated into the next onboarding process.
However, every onboarding process - like every person - is individual, so there is no such thing as THE ideal onboarding process. However, if you pay attention to the tips listed and consider a structured concept, you will definitely avoid new employees feeling left alone and neglected. Ultimately, the aim of onboarding must be to ensure that the new team member is optimally prepared for starting work. Of course, onboarding is not the only factor that determines whether they will be a good fit both personally and professionally and whether they will be able to work together for a longer period of time. However, HR managers can and should attach particular importance to the onboarding of new employees, as investing in a successful induction usually pays off in the long term for everyone involved.