Most often, we just take for granted employees coming in to our offices for the first time. We give a distant smile, say welcome, and then hope they figure it out on their own. We forget that we have established an office culture that may just overwhelm many of the new ones coming in to join us.
There are three things to consider: the work to be done, the culture in the office and our commitment as human beings to reach out to newcomers and make them feel welcome. As managers, we often feel that employees should be able to just jump in - or we may not want to micromanage them - but giving strong guidelines from the outset will help prevent future miscommunications.
Here are a few steps to ensure they will feel welcome to your office:
- Make an announcement. This can be done either in the bulletin board or office memo informing employees of the new person and the job this person is going to have in the office. If the office has a large number of employees, then inform at least those within the department that the person is going to join.
- Ask one of the receptionists to welcome the new employee. The reception people are usually pleasant as that is expected of their job. This includes bringing the new employee on a familiarization tour of the office and introducing her to the other employees who happen to be around while they walk about – not necessarily everyone, as this can also be overwhelming. Also, this would include introducing her to the CEO and passing the person on to the immediate supervisor.
- Ask your CEO to make time for the new employee. In a small organization, a five minute call on the CEO, the Chief, would be a positive experience and would tell the new employee of the value the organization gives to each person. In a big organization, the Department head would suffice.
- Orient the person on the work to be done. The immediate supervisor of this new employee will be the best person to show how the work is to be done, how it is connected to the work of others in the department, what performance standards are expected of employees in the organization, and what procedures are followed in the office for routine tasks such as printing, delivery, phone calls and others.
- Give the new employee enough information to survive the first day. The rest can be learned from the manuals. If there is no manual, the immediate supervisor can schedule a regular time each day within the first week to continue the orientation. A person can only absorb so much at a certain time, and the schedule will enable the supervisor to have a sense of how the employee is adjusting to the work and to the office environment.
- Give the person time to absorb the newness of the job and the office. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming when so many office colleagues talk to a new employee, while all he wants is to get to work.
- Be extra sensitive to the new employee’s needs in the first week. While you give the person space to start, watch out when he seems lost and needs some help. Often, he may be embarrassed to ask so when you see the predicament, offer your help.
- Talk with the new employee during lunch or coffee breaks. How often do you see new employees eating alone? No one really cares. “In our office, we care.” This is the message you want to give.
- Be prepared to listen. Be there to answer a new employee’s questions or listen when she needs to just process the experience.
- Walk around the office with her and introduce her to your friends as someone you value.
As each employee tries to do this, the new employees will find it easy to get into their work and will soon be doing the same to the other new employees. Then, the transition will no longer be difficult but will even be enjoyable. And guess what? You’ll probably make some new friends too!