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Sustainable Swag

7 simple ways to make new employees feel welcome

If you are looking for some pointers on how to effectively onboard new hires, you've come to the right place.

We all know that joining a new team can be a bit of a challenge. Between learning the ropes and getting to know everybody else on the team, it’s pretty much like joining a new school halfway through term.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that the guys at the top table can get the company ready to make new employees feel welcome the moment they step into the office. Yes, you could take the entire company to the beach for a full luau in Hawaiian shirts and summer shorts each and every time a new starter walks through the front doors. We'll never argue with that kind of genius grandstanding but if that's not a runner, here are some easier wins with this list on how to make new employees feel welcome...

1. Have equipment they need ready

This might seem like an obvious one, but that’s only because it’s so important and there is no possible way to overstate that. Making sure they have all the equipment and tech they need to start working will get the initiation process off to a good start, whereas expecting them to get going without everything they need will of course have the opposite effect.

There will likely be essential equipment that everyone in the office needs (laptop, phone, etc.), but try to think about the requirements of this new employee’s specific role. Be it a quality headset for all the client calls they’re going to make or a large HD monitor that would be perfect for graphic design, it is critical to make sure you’ve given them what they need.

The absolute no-no here is asking new starters to use their own laptop 'just until the new machine comes in'. Staff are understanding and maybe this could be OK in an once-off in an emergency situation, but generally speaking, if you fail to plan for your new starters, then you are planning to fail.

2. Assign a buddy

While joining a new team can feel an awful lot like starting in a new school, we’d like to think the workplace is a bit more grown up than that. Unless you’ve got account managers giving wedgies in the hallways or sales reps breaking into people’s lockers, assigning a buddy can be a great way to blend a new hire into the office.

This should probably not be their line manager, and it could be even better if you were able to find someone from a different team within the company. Their job as buddy would be more about stuff like telling them where the bathrooms are and which coffee machine doesn’t taste like crap rather than work stuff, as that’s how to foster better friendships among colleagues.

3. Have a clear role with tasks ready to start

This is particularly relevant when it’s a new/changed role rather than a direct replacement, but easing someone into a team doesn’t mean coming up with a plan as you go. For both your sake and for the new employee, it makes much more sense to do what you can to set out what you would like to see from them.

A contract of employment would be a good place to see the exact job specifications, but this is something different. Try to set out, in plain English, exactly what you want from this new hire and make sure to communicate as much of that as possible to them so everybody is on the same page.

4. Share culture details

Every office is different, so even if the new employee has many years of experience, they might not know everything they need to about how your people roll. This would be a good time to speak with some of the old guard in the office, to make sure that you communicate everything you need to.

When it comes to office culture, no detail is too small. Be it a running group that’s always looking for new members or an unwritten rule of people bringing in donuts, these are the ways that people can go from being a newcomer to feeling like part of the team.

It might not be quite as much fun, but it’s also worth clearing up any office rules as early as possible. Stuff like office dress code, to any sustainability efforts you’re trying to incorporate across the board is always worth knowing, so why wait for it to become an issue before you tell them?

5. Give a new employee welcome pack (featuring some nice swag)

You don’t need to plan anything too extravagant or over the top, but finding little ways to make them feel welcome can create the perfect first impression.

The more personalised you can make it, the better. We're kind of biased but we think a sustainable swag box with a custom made Hawaiian shirt, some stylish summer shorts, a bucket hat or some little treats like a cool beaker and water bottle will go a long way in helping them feel like they are a part of the team.

Or, maybe it's winter starter, in which case a Christmas swag box with a fetching custom knit, matching socks and delicious candy would be more appropriate. The beauty with what we do is that you can do your swag box any way you like.

6. Check in regularly for the first few months

There is definitely a limit to how much you should do this, but it's very important to make sure they know you meant it when you said your door is always open.

If there is a probation period, don't leave it until the very end to let them know about their progress or talk to them about their performance so far. Scheduling one or two brief interval meetings give them the chance to take any of your feedback on board, giving you a better idea of how well they are likely to fit into your team.

7. Ask how they're doing

This might be pretty similar to the last point, but not all of your conversations about the onboarding process have to be formal reviews or meetings. Even if you are not their direct line manager, one or two informal chats about how the new hire is blending in can be hugely beneficial to both of you.

Not only is it a great way for them to iron out any wrinkles they have or give feedback on the onboarding process, but you can then take that feedback and apply it next time around.

Just don't go overboard with the on-board; if you badger the newbie too much you'll probably make them (and everyone else) a little bit out of sorts. If you don't know where the line is, just take a bit of time studying what Michael Scott did with Ryan, and do the exact opposite of that.

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