When I was part of the Internal Communications department for a former employer, we had a hand in executing the orientation for new-hires. Likewise, I’ve spoken to several communicators who play a significant role in the on-boarding of new employees to their respective organizations. It makes sense, after all. We’re the ones responsible for building engagement, so why not start when they first walk in the door as a member of the team?
Honestly, most of the ways we participated (and I’ve heard similar accounts from other communication professionals), were pretty standard, and I thought there were missed opportunities to make a kick-butt first impression. Since then, I thought a bit about the recommendations I would make if I had the opportunity to be active in the on-boarding process of my current organization. Here are just a few that, while not necessarily revolutionary, seem to fall outside the norm for some companies:
Reach Out to Them Beforehand
Once your new colleagues has accepted the new position, contact them before orientation. In today’s application process, an email address is usually a requirement. So use that information to reach out and prepare the employee. Welcome them to the organization, give them materials in advance, and maybe send them a video from the CEO or other executive. Show them you thought enough to not wait until orientation to welcome them.
While you’re reaching out to the new employees, take the engagement up a notch by allowing them to participate in a contest that makes them learn more about their new employer. Send them information about the company and its history, then have them answer a questionnaire with the chance to win prizes (a free lunch at a local restaurant, a Starbucks gift card, etc.). It gives them an incentive to actively participate, rather than passively sitting and listening (but not necessarily paying attention) to the HR rep who’s giving a PowerPoint presentation about the company.
Create a CEO Welcome Video
This can be the video you send in your initial outreach email, or wait until they arrive at your office. Getting words of encouragement from their new CEO can go far in building engagement from the get-go.
I’ve actually done this one, and I know this isn’t exactly an innovative suggestion. But it’s worth noting that given the busy schedule of your head honcho, it’s not always convenient that the CEO can stop by at orientation to personally welcome the new employees.
The process of video creation is much less expensive and easier nowadays. Communication department can produce them without having to hire an expensive video production vendor. If you feel confident taking the reins and creating a simple video message, it’s the next best thing to the CEO making a personal appearance.
Introduce Them to Everyone
There’s nothing like introducing the new team members to your organization to make them feel like adopted members of the family. Take photos at orientation and post them on your intranet or digital signage, or record videos of the new employees saying “Hi” and expressing their thoughts about joining their new company. With their permission, post them on your social media channels to help promote your company as a great place to work and one that really knows how to embrace new additions.
Speaking of photos, if you can get an executive leader to stop by and welcome the new team members, why not have him/her take a selfie with them? Who says you have to settle for the normal done-to-death mugshot-style photos? Selfies give your organization a sense of being in touch, especially with millenials. Conversely, older employees might not be down with the idea, so just use your best judgment and don’t force anyone who doesn’t want to do a selfie or record a video.
Give them some goodies to start them off right. Most companies provide pens, staplers, and other standard supplies, but think outside the box – maybe a logo-bearing portable USB charger or a backpack, for instance. You can also see if local vendors are willing to provide discount coupons or free passes for new-hires.
Take Them On a Neighborhood Tour
Almost all employees are given a tour of the office when they arrive on their first day. But I’ve rarely heard of an organization that makes a point to show new-hires around the neighborhood surrounding the location. When I worked in the city for the first time, I know I would have found it tremendously helpful to be shown some places to eat, convenience stores, dry-cleaners, fitness clubs, etc. So take your new colleagues on a walking tour of the neighborhood and make them feel comfortable not only within the confines of their office, but outside of it.
Now, this gets a little tricky if you’re business is located in the suburbs where everything might be more spread out, so use your best judgment. If you can pull it off, the effort will be much appreciated by the newbies.
Have you had a hand in crafting your organization’s orientation? What are some outside-the-box ways you’ve tried to help your new team members acclimate to their new environment and feel welcome? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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