Here is an article posted by “Virtual Anja” at the Yellow Umbrella News website.
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Welcoming your new employees on their first day is all about recognizing how they might feel – by putting yourself in their shoes, remembering the positive or negative aspects of your own first days – and using that knowledge to create a memorable positive experience for them.
1. Be prepared!
• Have a desk ready for them
• Have all the login details ready for them
• Give your existing team members some background information on the new colleague
• Be there on time to greet them when they arrive in the morning
2. Make them feel welcome
If your team already has some background information, they’ll be able to say things like, “I’m really glad you’re finally here, I heard you’re really good at [x] and we desperately need someone like you!” and make the new person feel appreciated in the knowledge that they’ll be able to contribute something.
If possible, arrange a team lunch, even if it’s just with part of the team, so people get a chance to get to know each other also in a social environment, outside of office walls (Note: Ask the new person if they are OK with that – some people find it a bit overwhelming, with all the new impressions.)
Extra: If you want to do a little more than expected and create a memorable first day for them, add a little surprise: Let them find a little card on their desk that says “We’re glad you’re here!” – signed by the team and/or upper management. Give them a bunch of flowers or a little personalized office item with their name on.
3. Make them feel useful
While most first days are spent on getting to know the company, the team, the systems, etc., try to let the new person do something productive, too. Even if it is only one little thing – this way they will go home feeling empowered that they contributed something already on their first day.
The best way is to divide their time into learning time and productive time in the first days. Rather than putting all new employees in a seminar room together for days, it’s better to phase this over a few days, so they can do some actual work as well and get to know their work and their immediate team members quickly.
4. Give them a sense of independence
Remember that new hires are often experienced people in their field, who are used to work independently. First days at new jobs are often uncomfortable because they have to ask loads of very basic questions which might make them feel dependent on other people (where to find certain information, who to ask for what/who does what, the number of the helpdesk, where the bathrooms are, break times, etc.)
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the new hire and anticipate and answer as many of those questions as possible. Maybe put them in a handout that you can give them in addition to your personal introduction. Many people are shy and don’t like to bother and disturb others – having most of the questions answered will make them feel better and independent when they sit at their new desk.