Have you ever started a new job and quickly realized that you don’t know anyone, probably don’t have system access and subsequently don’t know who to call or where to look? Sadly, this happens at many companies for many reasons, and it can feel overwhelming for any new hire. Many times employers are so focused on getting the paperwork done that they often forget key elements in making a new employee feel welcome.

With all the choices job seekers have today, learning strategies on how to integrate and welcome a new hire into your company has never been more relevant. Here are five easy ways to make new employees feel welcome that will not only revolutionize your onboarding process, but will help you become a cultural cornerstone for employee retention, morale, and loyalty.

First things first - it all starts with onboarding. Onboarding is typically a set of activities and support resources that help integrate a new hire into the organization and decrease time to performance in their role. Informally, however, onboarding is the company’s first and only chance to make a good first impression on a new hire. In fact, one report by TLNT suggests that one-third of employees knew whether they would stay with their company long-term after their first week.

Reach out ahead of time to new hires

It is extremely important to keep in contact and maintain open lines of communication with new hires before they even start. For example, in order to immerse the new hire into your culture, you should have company press releases, podcasts, videos and media to give every new hire to help them understand not only the company better, but also how they fit in.

In addition, prior to their start date, keep lines of communication open around what the new hire should expect on their first day, what time ‘orientation’ kicks off and what activities might be going on during their first week. These may sound like simple ideas, but they really work, and they’ll help put your new employee at ease.

Be organized, prepared and flexible

Another key to making new hires feel welcome, especially in fully remote organizations like Peerfit, is to be organized. We know this sounds simple, but having a plan and agenda comforts people knowing you have been preparing for their arrival.

Make the onboarding process as simple and seamless as possible with minimal paperwork.  Invest in flexible solutions and technologies like Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype to accommodate remote employees’ contexts and needs. For example, virtual onboarding sessions for remote employees allow unlimited flexibility to do orientation from the comfort of their own home or even a coffee shop. Build an onboarding New Hire Portal on your company’s intranet to provide new hires access to company resources, even after formalized onboarding has been completed.

Have a community-driven "Welcome Strategy"

This is probably our favorite strategy for making new hires feel welcome. What better way to make a new hire feel welcome than through a Slack channel specifically dedicated to celebrating the new hire's arrival? Here at Peerfit we call it the “Welcome Wagon,” and it consists of welcome messages, interactive Giphys and virtual high fives - basically a virtual party in the new person’s honor!

Through this internal channel, new hires are instantly able to establish cross-departmental connections, even with senior leadership. The key is not the format in which this is implemented, but to find a “Welcome!” tradition that speaks to your organization, its culture and, ultimately, works for your team.

Create a virtual support network

Sometimes joining a new company can be overwhelming with all of its acronyms, internal jargon, org charts and project boards. That's why it’s key to create an internal community to support open communication while fostering collaboration and learning to help integrate a new hire into the company, culture, and initiatives.

Look for ways within your organization to leverage peer networks as a ready support source, where new hires can interact almost as they would on social media. At Peerfit, we have multiple Slack channels for this, but one of our favorites is called “Donut Dates,” where members of our team are randomly paired every two weeks to have a virtual "donut date” and get to know each other better. It’s a great way for new hires and existing employees to connect both on a personal and professional level, and it can be implemented just as easily for remote companies as for in-house teams.

Define expectations and promote transparency

The last piece of the puzzle for a new hire to feel welcome is to set clear expectations and clearly articulate the company’s mission, vision, strategy, and goals. Make sure to set aside extra time to really show them how their job and goals can impact the overall company goals and mission.

When employees feel that they are able to contribute, they are naturally going to feel more engaged. Finally, have multiple people check in with the new hire after his/her first week and promote transparency to gather their feedback around the onboarding process. New hires naturally feel more comfortable and welcome when they feel as though their opinion counts. Frankly, in a diverse culture such as ours, it is imperative to our effectiveness to promote transparency and feedback, in order to implement best practices where appropriate.

Remember, people are a company’s greatest asset. Implement these strategies to attract the best of the best and keep the people you have.

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