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Training best practices: make the first few days count

Employee Onboarding icon4 min read


An employee’s first few days are such a crucial and potentially awkward time for them. We’ve all had first-day experiences when we felt out of place and uncomfortable, but it doesn't have to be that way. You can create a better onboarding experience for your employees.

The best onboarding experiences are seamless. The first few days are the perfect time to make your new employees feel welcome, and to give them a better feel for the company culture and their new role. When employees show up and have nothing to do while their HR team and/or supervisors shuffle around trying to think of how to keep them busy, it can convey a culture that doesn't value preparation and care.

A great, productive first few days can set your new employees on the path to a successful and fulfilling career with your company. An uncomfortable one can put you at risk for having to fill that position again shortly. And since turnover is such an overwhelming bummer and a drain on your company’s resources, it’s worth the effort to start creating a positive experience for every employee starting on their first day. Here are some tips to make the onboarding and training processes a great retention tool.

When preparing:  

Tackle the mountain of paperwork ahead of time:

Have all paperwork assembled in one easy place and just get it knocked out as quickly as possible. Better yet, make it a digital experience that can be completed before the first day even starts. Integrated HR software platforms can help streamline this process. The ability to automatically input some employee information from the application process can save you both some hassle.

Make sure you have clearly-articulated expectations:

Write out a truly thorough job description. Even though you’ve discussed job responsibilities in the hiring process, don’t assume your new employee knows anything about their role. You’re trying to set them up for success in your company, so make you can enumerate every expectation they’ll be responsible for meeting. It’s a good idea to talk to managers about what their specific goals and expectations are for the employee’s first few weeks. Find out what job responsibilities are priorities for the team in this ramping-up period.

On their first day:

Make them feel at home:

Consider having a little gift (like a company-branded t-shirt or mug) or some breakfast items for their first day. Make sure they have a comfortable workspace that is set up and ready for them. Give them a tour of their new workplace, and be sure to introduce them to any other employees who cross your path. Take them to meet any coworkers they’ll be working with closely.

Show them the big picture

The onboarding process is an ideal time to let your employees learn about the culture, goals, and strategies of your company.This will give them better understanding of why their role is important and how it contributes to the company’s success. Having a clearly-defined sense of purpose is key to job satisfaction and turnover prevention. Communicate their supervisors’ training priorities with them so they can have an idea of what they’ll be expected to do in the first few weeks and months on the job.

If you’re sharing a formal onboarding presentation with multiple employees at once, be sure to offer regular breaks and check for understanding as you go. In this situation, it’s a great idea to schedule a few minutes for each employee to sit down with their direct supervisors. This will give them a chance to ask more job-specific questions and let both parties to get to know each other.

In their first few weeks: 

Let them know you’re invested in them:

Check in on your new employees in their first few days and weeks to make sure they’re settling in. Schedule some dedicated time for new employees to set short-term and long-term goals for growth within the company. Letting employees know that their organization is committed to their growth and advancement is a great way to build a culture of trust. This goes a long way to help prevent high turnover.

Following these onboarding and training best practices will help minimize the downtime that usually sinks an employee’s first few days at a new job. A little preparation can make the ramping-up phase less bewildering, and investing time to ensure your new employees are settling in comfortably can set them up for a long and positive working relationship with your organization.