Evolved Onboarding: Make Your New Employee’s First Day Seamless

Jami Bachrad
March 8, 2023

You’d be surprised what new employees report not having on their first day in a new role.

What’s the dress code? What are the norms around lunch or Zoom? Where are my passwords? When will my benefits kick in? As a Talent Services consultant, I hear many of these concerns from clients who have been recently placed in new roles and feel anxious about asking “too many” questions of their new employer. 

Given the nonprofit sector’s struggles with retention, I highly recommend that employers create an onboarding protocol so new employees can have a seamless start to their first day. This is important because you’ll save time in the long run by fielding these questions and make your new employee feel invested in and taken care of. 

After all, an employee who feels frustrated, confused, and like they are entering into a “sink or swim” environment is not likely to stick around for very long. 

So, how can you prepare your organization and your new employee for a great first day of work? 

General Onboarding Tips 

  1. Make sure you know your new employee’s pronouns so you can communicate them to the team. 
  2. Ensure that new employees are aware of any opportunities to engage with diversity, equity and inclusion work through a committee or other avenues at your organization. 
  3. Let them know your organization is committed to ADA-compliance and inclusion and you are here to provide any tools or special accommodations they might need to succeed in this role. 
  4. Before your new employee’s first day, send an email asking what questions they have that haven’t been answered to get ahead of any concerns. 
  5. Set up an official “welcome protocol,” which might include taking them out for lunch or celebrating their first day in a special way. 
  6. Communicate what hours people typically work - especially if there is flexibility. 
  7. Create a directory of numbers/emails to contact with questions about specific concerns, such as HR and IT. 

Tips for New Employees in a Hybrid/In-person Office 

  1. Let your new employee know where they will be working and what kind of situation to expect - a cubicle, an office with a closed door, an open working area, etc. 
  2. Communicate where the restroom is and whether or not the building is accessible. 
  3. Share information about lunch. Are there restaurants nearby? Do you provide a separate space for eating? Does the office have food or snacks? Is it OK to take a walk during lunch? 
  4. Make sure they have an ID or key ready to go if needed to enter the building. 
  5. Connect them with their main contact person before day one so they know who to look for. 

Tips for a First Day That’s Entirely Remote 

  1. Communicate your organization's email protocol and norms around working hours and expected response time. 
  2. Set up your new team member with any communication platforms used by the team, like Slack or GChat. 
  3. Set up a morning call with your new employee to welcome them and ground them in the work. 
  4. Inform them of your policy around reimbursements and a stipend for a work-from-home set-up, if applicable. 
  5. Outline your organization’s Zoom norms before the employee’s first meeting. 

Of course, every employee is different and will require different support and accommodations to have a great first day. But these questions are a good jumping off point for a personalized onboarding approach. 

To get ready for your new employee’s first day, download today’s freebie: Onboarding Checklist for a New Employee’s First Day.