It's happened to many people: A new employee walks into a new workplace on the first day, and no one knows anything about him.
My friend had one of those experiences. He went out to lunch on his first day with the CEO, which sounds great in theory -- after all, how many people get to meet with the big cheese on their first day? But it quickly became apparent that the CEO had not bothered to find out even my friend's name or anything about his background. In fact, he knew nothing other than the fact that my friend was now an employee working at the company. The lunch was obviously a routine that was being treated like one.
My friend struggled for an hour to make conversation with someone who had shown a painful lack of interest in him. It added up to a pretty awkward lunch and made him question how the rest of his time at the company would go.
Luckily, some startups and small businesses have a better onboarding process. My own company, AlphaSights, aims for a high retention rate with its new hires. This wasn’t easy initially, but once the team figured out how to effectively guide employees into their new roles, everything has fallen into place.
Here are the four tips my company uses to pull this off:
1. Hire in groups.
If your company is planning to hire more than three employees in the near future, do everything possible to ensure that these staffers start on the same day. This group of staffers can then talk with one another, work together and have shoulders to lean on if they need someone. This makes for a wildly effective group.
More than that, groups of people who are hired all at once may become a team. It’s much easier to feel assimilated into a larger group when one is already part of a small team.
2. Set aside a mentor.
Not every company can afford to hire a huge batch of employees at once. If your company is hiring just one employee, pair him with another staffer who can serve as a mentor. Clear that employee’s schedule. She will be a full-time mentor for the first few days.
There’s nothing more alienating than stumbling through the software that everyone else seems to understand. A mentor's lost hours are easier to recoup than correcting months of confusion for your new hire.
3. Select culture ambassadors.
Before hiring anyone, take a few top employees aside and let them know you’d like them to be culture ambassadors for the new people in the office. While a mentor can run your new hire through the processes of work, a culture ambassador can making sure everyone works well together -- and has fun together, too.
Hand off your company credit card, and encourage your culture ambassadors to take everyone out for a drink after work on Friday. A $100 bar tab is worth it if it leads to years of efficient, drama-free communication in the office.
4.Teach history. Share a vision.
No, I’m not talking about instruction about Ben Franklin or Joan of Arc. Your company’s history is critical to a new hire.
During the initial onboarding process, take your new hire through the trajectory of your company. Don’t gloss over the parts you’re not proud of, either. Letting the new hire knowing precisely where he fits within a growing, living organization -- one with a clear history -- can make that person feel right at home.
If you’re hiring a bunch of people at once, consider making this a PowerPoint presentation. But try to not make the presentation too rigid.
Along with the history of your company, tie in your organization's vision and its road map for the future, including how the organization plans to get there and the role new employees will play. Your new employee will be excited to be part of the company, wants to see himself belong and hopes to walk out of his early days excited about having made the right choice in joining your firm on its journey.
By following these tips, my company has given all of our new hires the training, friends and foundation to thrive. Keeping turnover low and maintaining company culture are imperative to every startup.