Kathy Rapp wrote a blog post for Fisftul of Talent last week called “Don’t Hide Your Crazy.” In her post she argues that HR shouldn’t hide a company’s best quirks when onboarding new employees – they should share the kookier sides of the company so new hires feel like they fit in faster.
We couldn’t agree more. Paperwork and tax information is important to cover, but a company’s onboarding program needs to include more. Onboarding is typically a new employee’s first exposure to the company from the inside, so it’s important to show them what they have to look forward to.
Beyond the necessary HR basics, here are six ways to spice up your company’s onboarding program to help new hires fit in and fall in love with the company from day one.
1. Introduce traditions
If the company has beloved traditions, such as an annual barbecue or an award employees can win, the first day is a great time to get new hires excited about them. Show them photos, share anecdotes, and explain how the tradition fits into the company culture.
Introducing these traditions matters just as much as explaining the I-9 form. The required HR tasks during onboarding help a new employee get started at the company, but understanding why the company is special will keep them there.
2. Share the unspoken norms
Every company has its own culture, and each culture develops its own unofficial rules. Many of these customs or expectations aren’t set in writing, but they are still important for new employees to understand early so they can fit in quickly.
During onboarding, inform new hires about the unspoken norms of the office – whether that includes internal lingo everyone uses, if you can listen to music or not, or the office’s approach to swearing. The customs and rules unique to your company culture are often the most important to share upfront.
3. …and the important details too
Between getting new keycards and setting up a new hire’s phone, sometimes the little things can get left behind. During first day training, don’t forget to tell new employees where the bathrooms are, how the kitchen works, and how to use the coffee machine. Tell them when people typically get to work and when they leave so new employees aren’t stressed about when to leave at the end of their first day.
Sharing the little details lets new hires focus on the bigger parts of the job in their first week, and it helps them feel less like a stranger in the office.
4. Timeline their experience
During onboarding, give new employees an honest picture of what their first six to nine months at the job will look like. If you know new employees typically feel excited, overwhelmed, and confused in the first three months, share this insight with new employees. Show them how employees usually feel three months in, six months in, and nine months in.
Providing this timeline can be helpful for new employees so they know what to expect in their first year, and it also shows them they’re not alone if they’re ever struggling.
5. Send them on a scavenger hunt
In addition to making formal introductions to the company, create a more informal and fun way for new hires to get to know their colleagues. Give them a list of fun facts about employees at the company, and send them on a scavenger hunt during their first two weeks to figure out who’s who.
It can be daunting to learn everyone’s names at a company during the first few months of a job. Giving new hires a way to get to know people early can help them feel at home faster.
6. Celebrate their arrival
When someone starts at the company, make it a big deal! Put a welcoming sign up in the office, and introduce them to everyone. Make them feel special, and emphasize how happy the company is to have them. Have their department take them out to lunch on their first day. Show them they’re not just filling a desk; they are going to add value, and the company is excited about it.