How can you encourage current employees to make new starters feel more welcome?

The first days and weeks of a new employees work life are an important part of them becoming part of the team and fitting into company culture and integration is often cited as a reason that employees leave when they fail to stay in a role for longer than 6 months so how can you combat this potential risk of losing those new hires you have already invested time and effort into?

One way that you can approach this is by getting the new starters teammates involved in the onboarding process and make them a part of welcoming the onboardee into the company, but it is something that can get missed. In a 2019 survey 56% of respondents said that there were no welcome activities planned for them and only 19% said they felt integrated into their teams in the first two weeks – a time when they should be the most excited and engaged.

So how do you start to approach this conundrum and how does that change in a world post COVID-19?

Things like the team lunch on day one with some of the people a new hire will be working closely with and some of the wider team too has been a long tradition for us at Webonboarding and is always a nice way to get people talking on topics outside of work and starts to build friendships from day one. Another nice approach we have seen at one of our partner’s offices was a welcome balloon which encouraged people from around the business to come and introduce themselves to the new starter. 

Even simple things like a tour of the office where all new employees get introduced to the people who are in works too. There shouldn’t be any expectations for them to pass a test on the 50+ names they may have just heard, it’s just a chance to say hi, start to get a feel for the company culture and for the current employees to know that this person might benefit from a chat over lunch or a shared cup of tea that week. 

All of these things become harder in the environment of 2020 with lockdown restrictions, social distancing and one way systems in place at offices and workplaces globally. Many organisations have been exploring how to approach this challenge remotely and there are several approaches that we have seen work well so far.

It might be much more difficult to introduce a new starter to the entire office on day one but other approaches are available. If you are working remotely it could include having a video call with team mates before the first day, or doing a virtual team lunch or group quiz on day one.

If you are back in your workplace it might be worth letting people know what the environment will look like on day one. You could do that by sharing the practices you have in place so they are familiar with them, sharing images or giving a virtual tour of how they will be navigating through the building when they do arrive. We might not be able to shake hands and lead them through for now but we can extend a virtual hand to them to help them feel a part of something.

When we are back to something closer resembling our old normality you could make sure that you invite new hires along to social functions, especially if it is a big company wide event like a christmas meal or annual kick off, as this helps with building relationships before they start too. Even something as simple as connecting people to each other on LinkedIn before day one can help with that welcoming feeling and get a dialogue started.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t make it feel too much like organised fun, just try and get the people together that will allow relationships to start to build and flourish, and keep in mind that the strongest relationships in a business aren’t always the most obvious fits either.

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