Don't Forget the New Hire Honeymoon!
While starting a new job is sometimes compared to getting married, the analogy breaks down when there is no honeymoon period for the newly employed. For many, their first few days on a new job might leave them feeling that the hiring process was just a clever pre-sales demo; this will further any "buyer's remorse" they might have felt about accepting the job.
North American unemployment rates remain high, so you might be tempted to ignore such "niceties." But don't forget that a new hire with marketable skills is at greatest flight risk during the first few days of employment—they can easily spin their quick departure as a case of a lack of fit without harm to their reputation.
Here are some practices that could prolong those pre-signing warm and fuzzy feelings.
1. 360 degree meetings
It can be intimidating to start a new role, especially in a large company, when the only person you know is your new manager. To help "seed" the new hire's internal network, set up short meet and greet meetings with a few key staff at different levels in your company to provide the new hire with some familiar faces to say "Hi" to around the water cooler, but also to provide them with a broader understanding of the company and its culture.
2. A day in the life
Unless the new hire is on the critical path for the most strategic project in your organization's portfolio, set up one or two "day in the life" tours where they get to shadow operational staff to get a better understanding of the company's business processes. This is especially valuable for back office staff as they can see how the work they will be involved with impacts the company's customers or front line workers.
3. Lunch with the team
A common practice in many companies is for the hiring manager to take out the new hire for lunch on their very first day. A better approach would be to use this as an opportunity for a team lunch. It will give the new hire a chance to see how their team communicates and works together, and it will start to get them engaged with their colleagues.
4. Avoid "stealth" hires
With some of the companies I joined, it felt like my start date was a complete surprise to everyone other than my manager. Initial perceptions can be poor if a new hire feels that their arrival is perceived as a burden by the staff who own on-boarding activities. Arriving to find their cubicle is ready (AND clean!), business cards are printed, useful documents such as organization charts or contact lists are pinned on their cubicle walls, and all business application accounts are set up will reduce natural feelings of anxiety. No later than midday of the starting date, make sure an e-mail is sent out to the whole team and other appropriate staff (copying the new hire) to welcome the new employee.
A key principle of change management is "walking a mile in their shoes." Take the time to make sure the new employee's shoes fit comfortably and you can avoid the seven year (or day) itch!