Four onboarding tips so your new employee turns up on day two

Take yourself back to the first day at your new job…

You didn’t sleep well the night before.

You left the house early because you weren’t sure how long the commute would take, and still ended up rushing.   

Your stomach rumbled mid-morning because you didn’t want to whip out your Go Ahead bar while Linda from HR was doing your health and safety induction.

By 3pm, your brain was absolutely fried from taking everything in, and social battery depleted.

You left at the end of the day, exhausted, questioning if you’d made a good impression.

That’s not to say it was a BAD first day – your colleagues were nice, and the job seemed cool – but it wasn’t exactly anything to write home about.


But that’s the problem. When onboarding is lacklustre, the excitement for a new job fades. Think about the effort you put into your marketing and sales – that’s all to build brand and make a great impression, to generate new customers and keep them loyal to you.

That effort must extend to employees. Your employer brand is not just external. It’s far more important internally; if you want to retain great people, anyway.

When you’re a small business, it can be hard to know how to make your onboarding successful. We’ve just welcomed two new people within a week to our team, so thought it was worth sharing our tips.

1. Prepare way in advance

We gave ourselves around six weeks to prepare for our new hires. In this time, we created a 28-page internal welcome deck which covered:

  • Our roles and responsibilities internally
  • Our clients and their requirements
  • Our systems and processes

If you’d like a copy for yourself, message Liv and she’ll take out all our secrets but send you the template.

A 28-page beast of an internal document might feel a bit heavy for the first day, but this is a helpful resource for the future as well. Something to refer to when they want to double-check a client detail (like, is this the client who refuses to capitalise their name, or have I made that up?) or how a process is done.

Along with that, each new employee was given a Month 1 plan which contained what their main focuses, introductory tasks and first major project will be. This way, they know exactly what you need to see in their first month to know things are going well. 

It also takes all the awkwardness out of any downtime. Unless you plan to strap your new starter into one of those baby slings (Josh, write that down for a video), chances are you won’t be with them every second of the day in their first few weeks. This provides them with the opportunity to independently crack on with their tasks, without having to wait for you to give them work.

As well as preparing your new employee for their first day, make sure you’re prepared personally as well! Have a plan in mind for how you want their first day to pan out.

  • Will you start by taking them through the welcome deck?
  • When will they be introduced to the wider team?
  • Will their contract and new starter forms need to be completed that day?
  • When’s the best time for that initiation ritual with the fake blood and sacrificial Sainsbury’s wine?

Block out the entire day and dedicate it to your new starter. If you do this in advance, it won’t impact your workload and you’ll be able to give yourselves to them 100%.

2. First impressions count

Every touch point with your employee on their first day counts towards their impression of your business and their new job role. Think about how you’ll greet them. Will you be waiting downstairs? Will you meet them at a coffee shop? What happens from the minute they arrive to when they first sit at their desk, through to lunch time and the end of the day?

It might sound like overkill but putting this amount of effort in is what will set you apart from other employers.

3. Make them feel welcome

Onboarding starts from the minute they accept the job, even if it’s a while before they actually pop up in person at the office. So, encourage your wider team to connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a message to welcome them to the team. Keep in touch with them right until their start date so they don’t feel forgotten.

On their first day, a nice touch is to have a welcome gift ready. For our new starters, we put together a little RedSprout welcome kit (survival kit). We wrote in welcome cards and had some cute stationery and even cuter chocolates ready for their first day. Bee-shaped chocolates with ‘Bee-Lieve in yourself’ on the front? Contract signed.

Little touches make people feel cared about. Plus, those chocolates make for a great snack when they reach page 23 of the welcome deck.  

4. Get to know each other

Take your new employee out of the office on their first day, even if it’s just for a quick coffee. Invite a couple of other team members along if you can and use it as an opportunity to get to know each other.

Not only does it provide a relaxing relationship building opportunity, but it also gives your newbie a break from the office environment – they’ll be feeling overwhelmed and breaking up the day will refresh them!

When our new starters joined, we noticed our wider team were really distracted on those days and not a lot got done. But we saw it as a good thing. Our team were making the effort to get to know their new colleagues and help them feel comfortable – at the risk of falling behind on deadlines! Atmosphere in the office is an indicator of culture, so being chatted to and feeling included will be a positive sign for your new starters.

Hopefully these four points have helped you prepare for your new starter. It’s important to note that onboarding goes beyond the first day of a new job; have regular weekly check-ins, and make sure they’re on track to passing their probation.

For some real HR expertise (not just our waffle), get in touch with our brilliant HR Consultant Natalie. She’s an absolute life saver when it comes to HR support and specialises in helping small businesses with anything HR related.

Interested in hearing more tips?

Have any more questions about onboarding (or basically anything)? Get in touch!


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