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Karin’s Leadership Articles

7 Ways to Ensure Your New Hire Has a Great First Day

by | Jan 15, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Results & Execution |

Jack and Jill are both new hires who started their new jobs today. Both of them are nervous. Both of them had other offers. Both are looking for validation that they made the right choice. They both still have lots of logistics questions that they were too embarrassed to ask during the interview process. Both want to make good first impressions.

Jack’s boss enthusiastically greets him at the door. His computer is already set up, and the phone is working. Jack receives a schedule of what’s going to happen that day. He is assigned a peer mentor, who immediately take him on a tour. The next stop is HR where he can ask all of his benefits-related questions. Later in the day, he meets with his boss to align on a few goals for the week.

Jill’s boss keeps her waiting in the lobby. The first words she hears are an apology, “things are just crazy around here.” She is then introduced to the IT guy who “can help get you get set up.” While she waits for the IT guy to come back, she begins introducing herself to those around her. She’s wants to jump in and make a good impression, but is not quite sure where to start. She’s not even sure how to find the restroom.

The First Day Matters

Perhaps you’ve been Jack or Jill. Or, perhaps you’ve been one of those bosses. We never want our new hires to feel like Jill. And yet sometimes they do.

How the new hire experiences the first day can leave a strong impression. They may wonder,”Am I a priority?”

7 New Hire “Must Haves”

It may seem basic, but over the years I’ve found it useful to create checklists to ensure everyone receives a good new hire experience. Of course, what goes on the list will vary, but here’s a good place to start.

  1. A Functional Workspace
    It’s important to ensure everything is set up BEFORE your new hire gets there. Connected equipment, phones, temporary passwords, user guides, pens, paper consider anything that your new hire may need to get started well. Having tools that work will go a long way in reducing stress.
  2. A Tour
    It’s important for your new hire to be able to navigate. How do they find their way around? Where do the key players sit? Where are the restrooms and the coffee?
  3. Overview of the Bigger Picture
    It’s important that your new employee feels connected early to the greater vision and goals. Perhaps it’s a welcome letter, or meeting with a senior leader. This can be done in a variety of ways, and the first day is only the beginning.
  4. A Benefits Meeting
    Your new hire will likely have open questions about paychecks, benefits, vacation, code of conduct, and other norms. Many companies have formal programs to go through all of this. Some do not. Either way ensures there is an opportunity for your new hire to ask questions in a safe environment.
  5. A Peer Mentor
    Pick someone “nice” who is “into it.” I have seen this backfire. With that said, this is a great developmental assignment
  6. Someone to Have Lunch With
    It could be the peer mentor, you, or someone else. Even if lunches aren’t part of your culture, today is special. Make sure it feels that way.
  7. A Few Early Goals
    This works at every level of the business. Be clear about expectations for the first week. What do you want your new hire to accomplish?
  8. What would you add???

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Steve Borek

    An onboarding document which shows where they excel in relationship to the job and where they need to improve. A job benchmark will give you just that.

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Steve, thanks so much. You have me very curious about that. I would love to learn more.

  3. Shawn

    This is a great topic, and I have been both “Jill” & “Jack” before.
    I think one of the best experiences that I had was when my new boss welcomed me the first day and went through the week he had set up for me. This gave me a clear idea of what my first week was going to look like. He had meetings set up with HR, each one of my peers, his boss and peer group, and other partners that I would be working with. In each meeting there was a topic predetermined to discuss outlined on the agenda that he provided. The benefits were two fold, my boss helped me to build relationships with my peer group and partners I would be working with, and I reviewed all of the important topics that he had outlined in his on-boarding calendar.
    I have to say this was a rich on-boarding experience and it went way beyond the first day, but the expectations that he reviewed with me the first day really helped to right set my expectations for the week.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Shawn, Thanks so much for joining the conversation and for your important additions. What an organized way to setting expectations. I love it.

  4. adminrenegade

    Also really nice on the first day to have – as part of the onboarding- a floor plan of the department if applicable. Especially if it is a large organization. Executive Assistants and Office Managers are often tasked with helping the new employee get acclimated. I once had a supervisor contact me the Friday prior to my start date. He let me know what to expect on my Monday morning arrival to the office because his schedule had changed. Great post.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Adminrenegade, ahhh yes… a floor plan. You should see where I work… still haven’t figured it out 😉

  5. linusjf (@linusjf)

    Great post but you could have all this and yet, it could be a literal madhouse with people yelling and monkeying around.. you wouldn’t give a whit, then!
    Normally applies for normal!

  6. letsgrowleaders

    linusjf, thanks so much for joining the conversation, glad you stopped in. You raise a great point….”ensure” is a strong word. So many factors. You are quite right.

  7. Patricia

    Hello, I thought a lot of what was shared is great. First off before someone comes on board we send out a welcome message letting know that we have a new employee is starting and what their role is to our organization and little bit about their background. I think another great thing to share is to mention the safety plans and expectations of the office. I know that due to working in Manufacturing we try to ensure with our new addition knows about what to do when there is an emergency as well as the emergency evacuation plan. Also, depending on their role in the company we too have them meet with key personnel such as the key person for each department and how their position will play into the facility.
    Finally, we also try to go over with them their job description and what their expectation is to the company. This leaves nothing to question stating that they didn’t know what they were responsible for. Most importantly I think they need to feel welcome and that everyone takes the time to make it as easy as possible for the individuals first day. Thank you again as I think I will gladly share this with our HR Department. 🙂


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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