People Magazine

The first day at work: laying the foundation is critical

first day at work
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A first day sets the stage for future success.

What to-do on the first day.

Why first days matter.

Options to make first days a little easier.

How are you establishing a positive pathway for your employees, from their first day at work to the last day of onboarding?

Laying the foundation for a positive experience starts before you even welcome a new employee. The job description tells candidates a lot about you—and your ideal candidate.

That’s why HR software is such a big part of the hiring process (HR is a lot more than new hire paperwork!). When it comes to hiring an employee and their first day at work, think of it as a first date. Both parties are deciding a lot. If you want a second date (and you do!), you have to know how to welcome a new employee.

Do you remember the first day of all of your jobs? Probably not. They’re usually overwhelming, but sometimes very dull. It’s a lot of paperwork, maybe watching training videos, and meeting a lot of people whose names you won’t remember.

Design their first day to be one that’s comfortable and memorable in the right ways.

The first day

Everyone is nervous on their first day of work. Even for companies that demand a lot of training, it’s a good idea to take it easy on this day. A half-day of work is often a good idea. New hires will be bombarded with information, and it’s unlikely that they’ll retain much beyond a few hours.

Avoid a happy hour environment or a forced party to welcome them. It’s high-pressure for them and unnecessary.
Instead, assign them a “buddy” that isn’t a manager (to them) that they can rely on for the first few weeks of work. It might be a seasoned employee who’s held a similar position in the past. Consider it akin to being assigned someone to give you a tour of the school when you changed schools as a kid. However, as adults, the “buddy” is going to be a lot more professional and committed to the relationship.

To-do on the first day

The first day is a lot of information-giving. Make sure the information is relayed in some ways, including hard and soft copies that the new employee can keep. Ask them how they learn best and how they’d like to receive the information. Do they learn by doing? Listening? Watching? Incorporating their learning styles into their first day might be possible.

Make sure their workspace (if they have a dedicated one of their own) is clean and clear.

Before their first day, it’s important to update any materials if necessary. Nobody wants to feel like they’re sitting in the remnants of their predecessor.

If it aligns with your company environment, encourage them to personalize the space and lay out the guidelines for doing so. It’s a fun activity that will help give them ownership of the space. Make sure they know about this activity in advance so they can bring items to customize the area.

Keep in mind that the first days don’t always have to be on a Monday. A shorter workweek can be a way to ease new hires into their role. It takes time to adapt, and a smooth transition means less is more. There will be time to train as their first few weeks advance.

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