Rockstar Employees – Increase the Excitement and Lessen the Anxiety that Comes With Employee Onboarding

February 8, 2023 | Business Development, Government

Photo by Mabel Amber:


This is the second in a five-part series about employee recruitment and retention. I’d like to thank my former co-worker and good friend, Don Barger, for being a major contributor to these articles. He provides years of expertise–and some great stories. 

When you bring a new team member on board, the bar is set pretty high. Unless it’s their first job, they likely just had a farewell party and were told by their former employer how great they are and that they will be sorely missed. As a result, it’s important to ensure their first day on the job makes them feel just as special. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case when it comes to onboarding. 

Getting new hires off to a good start begins long before their first day at your company. It’s critical to stay in touch as your new team member is preparing to start working for you.  Don shared a story that demonstrates why this matters. He was performing some contracted work for a hospital and had to give them 30 days’ notice to terminate.  He had accepted a job offer at another hospital, and they established a start date.  On day 28, the hospital he was leaving approached him with a permanent job offer.  He later scheduled a meeting with the CEO at the hospital where he was about to start and asked, “Remind me why I am coming here.” She told him her lesson learned was never to let that much time pass again without having contact with a new team member.  

To continue the goodwill you’ve established after making an offer, send an email welcoming them to your new hire to the company, including information about where to park, what entrance to use, dress code, work schedule, etc. Ask what questions they have and continue to communicate.

It’s also important to take the right steps behind the scenes to prepare the new hire paperwork. This includes:

  • Tax documents
  • Payroll information
  • Employee handbook
  • Job description  
  • IT Credentials

Now, let’s focus on what to do on day one. Be sure their workspace is prepared.  It should be clean and orderly.  It should have a working computer. Leave a welcome message and some company swag (pen and notebook, coffee mug, t-shirt, etc), if available. Make sure they have their business cards on the first day!  Don shared another story about his first day in a director’s position for a multi-million dollar company, where he would report directly to the CEO. On his first day, he spent the first hour looking for available office space because nothing had been set up.  He eventually landed in a cinder block space not much bigger than a closet, but at least the door had a window. This was a far cry from the corner office he had with his previous employer, and it made him question how much he was valued. The cumulative effect is that he wondered if joining the company was a mistake.

If possible, ensure the new team member’s supervisor is there to welcome them. If their leader is not there, that raises questions about how important the new hire is to the company. If you have a formal new employee orientation, that’s great.  If not, here are some things that should be reviewed, at minimum:

  • Organization chart
  • Role of department
  • Team member’s role
  • Company history
  • Company culture
  • Key customers/products/services
  • Tour of building
  • Introduction to key employees
  • Lunch and breaks

Along with introductions to key employees, introduce them to the folks handling their payroll and benefits. They should know them before any issues arise. At the very least, allow them to put a face with a name.  

Ultimately, it’s all about putting yourself in their shoes. Think of how you would like to be treated on your first day at your new place of employment and implement these ideas into your onboarding process. Don’t limit your thinking only based on your experience, however: ask recent hires to provide anonymous feedback about what could be done to improve the onboarding process. Getting this perspective is a reflection of the degree to which starting a new job can be both exciting and anxiety-filled. Your goal should be to increase the excitement and lessen the anxiety.

Next week, I’ll discuss employee retention: how to make it more like you keep the employees you recruit! In the interim, if you have any questions about hiring and what we learned as we refined our process, please reach out to me on LinkedIn or at [email protected]

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