Pit Stop: Set New Employees Up for Success

May 1, 2020

Senior advisor Amy Schuman of the Family Business Consulting Group offers tips for ensuring that your new employee’s first day is a near perfect one. 

The process of onboarding new hires can be tricky to navigate as an employer. Introductions and training can be done in thousands of ways, and there is always the risk of getting into an information overload. The first day for a new employee can be a make-or-break situation, so it’s important territory to conquer.

Amy Schuman is a senior advisor for the Family Business Consulting Group in Chicago, Ill. She has expertise in Human Resources for small family-run businesses, and knows how crucial first days are for both the employee and the employer. At its core, she says it comes down to having a solid plan in place. This will make the entire onboarding process run much smoother. Here, she outlines some factors that make for a perfect (or as perfect as possible) first day for a new employee from the perspective of the employer.

As told to Hanna Bubser

Explain it all.

Before the first day even begins, make sure the new employee is well-informed. It is important that new employees understand the image of the business. Make an effort to supply them with reference points. This could mean providing them with marketing materials like pamphlets or packets, or even sending them relevant training materials ahead of time, like your mission statement and values as a business. This will give them a good idea of the way your business is displayed in the public eye. 

Once you have done this, the next step in setting them up for success is making sure you have the employee’s entire first week mapped out. Know exactly what material you want to be covered from the first time they step through the door to the end of that first week. This will allow the onboarding process to have a trajectory and allow you as the employer to make sure they are reaching certain checkpoints before being turned out on their own to represent your business. 

Be inviting.

Something as simple as a welcome sign or a clean workspace awaiting the new employee can truly make all the difference. A warm greeting makes them feel like you are genuinely excited to have them on your team. Making sure their work station is set up for them is actually a huge component. That makes the new employee feel especially cared for, making sure that they know you were expecting them and took the time to get everything ready for them to have a successful introduction. Think about how you have felt before on your first day at a new job. Take what you enjoyed from that experience, as well as what you disliked, and use that to create a positive first impression for your new hires. 

Establish a “buddy” system. Choose someone from your pre-existing group of employees to act as a new employee’s buddy. This individual will represent your business, so choose carefully. You obviously wouldn’t want to pick someone with a poor attitude or who doesn’t work well with others. This choice should be a compliment to the employee, as you are insinuating that they are someone you trust to help with the onboarding experience. This buddy will act as a point of contact for the new employee. They will help relay information, train, show them around and could even be someone for the new employee to eat lunch with. Having this buddy will make the new employee feel less like they are being thrown out to sea without a familiar face.

Be proactive.

Make sure they walk away understanding the culture. There is a saying that goes: Culture eats strategy for lunch. The culture that you cultivate at your business is an important aspect to communicate right away. Your new employee should end their first day knowing how to represent your business and where their position fits in the equation. They should know what they should and shouldn’t be doing to proliferate that culture. Think about it this way: Do you want to wait for problems to happen, or do you want to prevent them from happening in the first place? Making sure the employee has a solid understanding of your business practices will ensure less room for error in the future.