First Impressions Never Die: Day #1 of Onboarding

“You only get once chance to make a first impression!” Unless you can score a memory charm that obliviates someone’s memory (thanks Harry Potter), you only get one shot when it comes to introducing a new employee to your company and all of its inner workings. You get one shot to make it right, one shot to set your new hire on the path to engagement and productivity. You only get one shot…to make a first impression.

I had a friend a few years back who was hired to run a chain of retail stores who were in desperate need of an overhaul. His first day on the job consisted of filling out paperwork and a meeting in which he was introduced to the store managers over breakfast…and that was it. He was literally left to figure out everything else on his own, including buying practices, accounting, and all the other systems that businesses need to operate.  His stay at the company ended a bit contentiously within 2 years. However, he felt under valued and under-prepared from the beginning.

While that scenario is not typical, especially for that type of leadership position, I can compare it to another friend who was also hired at an executive level, and he was made to feel appreciated from day one. He arrived the first day with most of his paperwork already completed done in a pre-boarding process, a company cell phone and laptop, access to all the electronic documents and processes he would need, and a game plan for his integration and introduction to the company. 6 years later, and he’s still working for the same company, loving the culture and spreading the love to other new employees who join the team.

First impressions are powerful, and they can take you one way or the other. Here are 4 ways to make a great first impression during onboarding…from day one!

Welcome Gift

Everyone loves getting a present; especially one that demonstrates the giver understands the person receiving the gift. How great is it to show up for your first day of work and receive a present from your new company! A well thought-out gift can show your new hire that you’ve been thinking about them, as you’ve spent time preparing for their arrival. You could even spend $25-$30 to send a special gift to someone close to your new employee. For example, maybe send a small token of appreciation to their spouse for their love and support during a time of transition. It doesn’t have to be huge, but these small gifts can speak volumes.

Respect Their Time

The vast majority of paperwork required during the onboarding process can now be done digitally. Using cloud-based technology, you can guide your new hire through the paperwork process of onboarding before her first day through pre-boarding. This prevents your new employee from having to write her name and social security number 12 times amidst all of the paperwork.

Integrating a digital onboarding process also communicates the possibility of the future to your employees. Heather R. Huhman, founder of Come Recommended, said, “Online onboarding should be a priority, especially as the younger, tech-savvy generations enter the workforce. Moving beyond the traditional onboarding process will keep content fresh and give employees perks that in-person onboarding cannot.”

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

There’s nothing like a friend (or mentor) to help you jump in the waters from day one. A friend or mentor gives your new hire the opportunity to ask questions that he or she may feel uneasy asking a peer. A mentor can make sure that the integration process is moving forward, and that any questions your new employee has are being answered. A friend or mentor can also be an important sounding board for any concerns or thoughts a new employee may have.

Leadership is Present

The opportunity for a new hire to spend some time with his or her highest divisional leader, during the first day or first week, is huge! This type of connection with leadership communicates to new hires the importance of their job and position.

Onboarding is an ever-important process in the life of an employee and business. Some of the best things you can do to make a great first impression require just a little extra time and effort, but they can make a huge difference.