You invested a lot of time, energy, and money bringing on that new employee.
They show up on that first day ready for your orientation doing their best to disguise their nervous anxiety.
Feeling a bit anxious yourself, you want to get them up and running as quickly as possible so as to maximize your ROI. After all, you need to prove to yourself and your team that you made a great hire.
As the day draws to an end, you begin to reflect on how things went on Day #1. But it’s important to realize that they, too, are reflecting. And there are 4 questions that are rolling around in their mind that will determine whether they will be with you for the long haul, or just a quick stopover on the way to their next opportunity.
1. “Why did they hire me for this job?”
You know why you selected this applicant over the others. It’s essential that they know, too. So tell them, e.g. “I hired you because you made a great first impression with your professional attire, and because you showed such enthusiasm throughout the interview. You were obviously prepared and had done your homework on this company. I felt that you weren’t just looking for any job, but that you really wanted to join our team and that you were willing to go to great lengths to become invaluable to us. If that’s an accurate representation of who you are, you’re going to succeed here and be with us for a long time!”
This kind of feedback is not only a very positive way to begin their employment relationship with you, it will reinforce to them how they’ve already demonstrated the values and behaviors that you and your organization hold sacred. This also allows you to create a benchmark to use for comparison when you call them in for their first performance review.
2. “Will I enjoy working here?”
You told them that this was a fun place to work. (C’mon. Admit it. Every company promotes its job openings by inserting the ‘f’ word’ somewhere in the description.) So did they have any on their first day, or will they have to keep their nose to the grindstone until the horseshoe tournament at the annual company picnic next summer?
If they haven’t had a good belly laugh—much less a chuckle or two—they may feel like the fun you promised was a recruiting gimmick and the job is going to be drudgery. Not exactly the impression you want them taking home on Day #1.
3. “Are any of my coworkers ‘friend’ material?”
Back in the day, socializing on the job was frowned upon. Now it’s a critical component of employee engagement and retention. Employees are much less likely to leave a job if they have close friends working with them.
If all you do is walk your new hire around the workplace and introduce them by name (e.g. “Angela, meet Bart. He’ll be working in the warehouse. Bart, Angela processes your paycheck.”), you’re not making any real connections that could forge a friendship. Instead, try this kind of introduction. “Angela, meet Bart. He’s just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and has a world of experience that is going to make our warehouse run even smoother than it does now. Bart, Angela processes our paychecks and keeps everyone looking forward to Tuesdays when she always brings in a tray of her famous homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. And Angela’s daughter is now in boot camp in Fort Hood, so I’m sure she’d love to hear about some of your travels and experiences.”
4. “Who can I talk to about…?”
…the casual Friday dress code? And where should I park? Is it okay if I bring my lunch and eat at my desk? Who do I see about getting my check direct deposited? Is there a company softball team? I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but the chair they gave me is killing my back! Can I check my Facebook page on the computer at my desk ?
Just because they haven’t asked you a barrage of questions doesn’t mean they don’t have a barrage of questions they want answered. The sooner you can answer all of those questions, the sooner you’ll have an engaged employee who’s able to perform at their best. But don’t throw them the Employee Handbook and tell them to read all the policies. Instead, link them to a carefully selected mentor or ‘onboarding concierge’ who will proactively engage your new recruit on a daily basis, sit down with them and make them feel at ease, and then help find answers to every question they have.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT
Armed with the knowledge of the questions they are going to be asking themselves, you have an opportunity to transform the ‘first day is the worst day’ experience most employees have into an ‘I am going to love working here and give this job my very best’ mindset.
If employee engagement is something you’re serious about, remember that you will never get a second chance to make a critically important first impression on the people you bring into your organization.