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A friend of mine just got a new job and was so excited to start working for this well-known company in town. I called her at the end of her first day and asked her how the day had gone. You could just hear the disappointment in her voice as she replied, “I hope I haven’t made a mistake.” I was shocked because for weeks she had been telling me this was the job of her dreams and she couldn’t wait to be a part of this organization.
Probing further, I discovered that many factors contributed to the poor feelings she had of her first experience with the company. She had tried to arrive early to find a place to park, but the signs were confusing as a new employee and so by the time she had found a place, she was almost late. As a brand new employee, she was rather nervous and this only increased her anxiety. Upon arriving at the designated area, she was told she would be oriented by someone in the HR department, but until they came to get her, she could just wait at a table in one of the empty offices and read some collateral material on the company.
After a 45 minute wait, someone from HR showed up and announced they would be helping her get all the paperwork for employment out of the way. The next couple of hours were taken in going through insurance forms, security carding, internet information, and other basics. Then, she was told she was on her own for lunch, but to be back by 1 so she could meet with her manager.
Lunch on her own was rather depressing as she had hoped she would have been introduced to a couple of her co-workers and eaten with them to get to know her colleagues and some of the inner ropes. She returned at 1 to the designated office, but no one was there. She asked several people where the manager was and finally someone tracked him down through his cell phone and apparently, he had forgotten about “meeting the new employee”. When he finally arrived, he quickly outlined her duties and tasks and said it would probably take awhile for her to become acclimated to the culture, but he would always be there to help her.
He showed her to her office, expressed great confidence in her abilities, and left. My friend said she spent the rest of the day trying to figure out internet access codes, getting her email address input, and finding an updated inner office phone list. Two people popped their heads in the door and welcomed her.
What a huge opportunity this company is totally missing! The first day of someone’s new job should be exciting and welcoming! This is when Disney sprinkles the pixie dust on their new cast members because they know the power of first impressions. Zappos too! The first day should be spent sharing all the successes of the company, telling stories of how customers love them, building pride in who the company is and how lucky this new employee is to now have a position with them. It should be about communicating the higher purpose to their job so they see the meaning of how their job tasks fit into the big picture of the organization. Managers and co-workers should be ready to welcome, greet, and help the new person feel comfortable.
What does your first day to a new employee look like and feel like? If you have an orientation, does it reflect your history and company pride? Do you introduce the new employee around and have someone invite them to lunch or breaks together? Yes, the paperwork is necessary, but don’t make it first. Let the new employee have such a rich day of meeting new people, understanding their role, and feeling special they were chosen, so when they go home at the end of that first day and someone asks them how did their day go, the answer is “WOW, what a great place this is going to be.”

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