3 Foolproof Ways to Blow New Employees Away on their First Day

Another new year is upon us, friends! 365 blank calendar squares where we can make a difference, add value, build connections and drive results. The promise and possibility of that is motivating to me, despite years and years of abandoned new habits and rarely worn gym clothes, since I’m not much of a “resolution” kind of gal.

If your team is like my team, the new year also means gearing up for the first New Employee Orientation of the year. Will you be kicking off 2018 with the same-old-same-old orientation experience, or is this the year you make some changes?

If you are looking to ease into some changes to your organization’s onboarding program, something that will generate a positive reaction (without breaking the bank!), a simple place to look is the welcome experience your new employees receive on their first day. Here are 3 incredibly simple….like, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” simple…tactics to make your new employees’ first day memorable and make them excited to return for Day #2.

Foolproof Tactic #1: Roll out the red carpet…..literally.

When you make a hiring decision, it is crucial to remember that the decision is two-sided. Your new employee is also choosing YOU, including the hiring manager, the team he will be working alongside, the role/title, the organizational culture and the work itself – only having seen or experienced a tiny bit of it before his first day. Help put his mind at ease from the moment he steps foot in your lobby, and confirm that he made the right decision by accepting your offer.

The concept of “rolling out the red carpet” may be cliche, but it is long-associated with top tier events – movie premieres, high society galas and other glamorous gatherings. Giving your new employees the VIP treatment is a fun way to ease first-day jitters and bring a smile to his face.

And the best part? You can order one on Amazon today and have it rolled out before the new year! Check it out:



Foolproof Tactic #2: Involve your C-suite (a little or a lot)

Even the busiest executives should have some face time with your newest team members. Even a 15-minute meet-and-greet session sends a message to new employees that your leaders support onboarding, are committed to their immersion and success and are eager to get acquainted with them, which is an important factor in new employee engagement.

Granted, in our global culture, remote onboarding may prevent some, perhaps all, face-to-face encounters. Here are several ways to involve your senior leaders, both in person and from afar:

  • Kick off new employees’ first day with coffee and/or breakfast with your CEO while s/he shares his career story and provides a welcome and company overview.
  • Record a short video of your CEO or other key executive in advance welcoming new employees to the team and text it to them one hour before their official start time. Update the video annually or as specific initiatives/goals/success stories evolve.
  • Have your executive hand-deliver a name tag, uniform, or fun swag items with a handshake and a warm welcome.
  • With permission, include a stop in your executive wing on a building tour.
  • Invite the CEO to participate in a Google Hangout/Skype chat with new remote employees on their first day.
  • Leave a handwritten card on the new employee’s desk (or mail it to a remote employee’s home to arrive on his/her first day).


Foolproof Tactic #3: Make a game of it.

Interactive learning games can be an extraordinary way to engage new employees, build connections and create a memorable environment. Here are a few ideas, based on simple mainstream games, that might jump-start your creativity. Need more inspiration or want to develop something more customized? Check out the book Play to Learn by Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp…so good!

  • Was it your CEO, in the Employee Lounge, with the candlestick? Turn a ho-hum scavenger hunt into an interactive take on the game Clue! Distribute clues/company facts on cards throughout the day – new employees can use the clues to solve a mystery, identify company employees and learn helpful information.
  • Poker, anyone? As leaders and other employees participate in Orientation on the employees’ first day, they can distribute one playing card to each new employee. At the end of the day, the best “poker” hand wins a small prize!
  • Make your org chart come alive! Attach headshots of company leaders and other key employees on cardstock with clues about their name, characteristics and role. Asking yes-or-no questions, players identify which employee is on the card, à la Guess Who?.


Whatever your onboarding goals may be for 2018, hopefully these simple, foolproof tactics will serve as inspiration to help you achieve them and truly blow your new employees away! Need assistance developing a results-driven onboarding strategy for your organization? Let’s talk!

Cheers to your organization’s success and prosperity in the new year!


SMART Onboarding

SMART onboarding

My day job is all about rewarding top performers. It’s a great concept, really…employee incentives are achieved not only by company performance, but by setting and attaining meaningful personal goals that impact the organization.  Needless to say, goal-setting is a frequent topic of conversation around the company!

The other day, I was thinking about my own goals and the old, familiar “S.M.A.R.T.” acronym.  And that made me think about how organizations would benefit by utilizing this same concept when developing their onboarding strategies…so I scribbled it down and have been chewing on the thought for the past few days.

And here we are.  SMART onboarding:


What are you trying to achieve in your onboarding program?  Do you even know?  (I’ll give you a hint: Saying “Our goal is to integrate new hires into the organization” won’t cut it.) Could you articulate the goal of your organization’s onboarding program to a colleague or executive?  The intent of your program should be clear to everybody, in the language that is meaningful to them.  


Metrics matter.  If your onboarding program isn’t tied to business objectives, you are missing a key ingredient to your program’s success.  You need to know where onboarding can impact the bottom line, and measure it.  Depending on your organization, it could be a variety of metrics…increased employee retention, increased employee engagement, quicker time-to-productivity post-hire, more sales, making fewer errors, less IT tickets, a reduction in legal or employee relations issues, higher performance review scores, more satisfied customers…you name it.  Find out what matters in your organization.  Find out what keeps your executives awake at night, and measure it.  I could talk for a week on this topic, but for the sake of this post, I will move on to…


Is it assumed that new employees should quickly make a impact on the bottom line, regardless of the onboarding experience?  Are they given necessary tools and resources to get the job done?  Has their job description been clearly defined?  The hiring manager and other stakeholders should partner with the new employee to get started, anticipating the inevitable learning curve.  Setting incumbents up for success means knowing what is attainable, and what is simply too deep for the first days and weeks on the job.


So many orientation and onboarding programs are nothing more than an overwhelming information dump.  In the first days or weeks of employment, new employees are given every possible detail of everything they could possibly ever need to know.  Umm, really?  Not only is this a supreme waste of time for a new employee, but also for the poor sap that facilitates it.  Context is the name of the game.  As new employees become familiar with their surroundings, organization, team, manager and role, then new information, tasks and projects are better absorbed.  This isn’t always possible, as fast-moving organizations often have shifting priorities, or that “new hire training” period is pre-determined by the business need.  That said, work with it.  Do what you can to ensure that what is expected from your new employees is truly attainable.  Set your new employees up to truly perform in their new roles.


We want new employees to make a difference (and so do they).  In their roles.  On their teams.  Throughout the organization.  Clearly communicate why every component of their onboarding experience is meaningful and relevant for their success.  Whether that experience lasts one day, one week, one month, or several months.  Let them know what they can expect from you, as the owner of the onboarding program, and when they can expect it.  Keep an organized calendar of events.  A new employee should always know what’s offered and available for them, and when to expect it.

So, there you go…a different way to think about the ol’ SMART acronym.  And maybe, just maybe, a different way to think about onboarding.

Your turn: How are you making your onboarding programs SMART? Are they SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIME-BOUND?  Do tell!

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