5 Tips for Onboarding your Next New Hire Before their First Day

These five strategies will keep your new hire engaged from offer acceptance until their first day at the office.

5 Tips for onboarding your next new hire before their first day

The period after a candidate accepts your offer up until their first day can be an emotional rollercoaster for your new hire. It’s likely that they gave their resignation to their previous company and are nervous about all of the changes that come along with a new role. They may be experiencing emotions ranging from nerves, excitement, and self-doubt: What if I made the wrong choice? Will the culture be what I expect? What will my new boss be like? What will the new team be like? Where will I sit? What should I wear? 

As hiring managers or human resources professionals, we shouldn’t let the excitement from the interview and offer stage dissipate so quickly. Onboarding typically starts on the first day, but in reality, it should start as soon as the candidate accepts the offer. By using the five onboarding tips below, you can keep your new hire engaged, set them up for a successful onboarding experience, and make the process much simpler for your organization. 

1. See your new hire at least once before their start date

Invite your new hire to come into the office if they have some time off after they’ve given their resignation. Ask them to come in for an office tour and show them their desk. This is an underutilized tip that reduces nerves—knowing what your surroundings look like eases a lot of the first-day-jitters. Because many offices are business casual, it’s not always clear what the dress code is. This glimpse into a regular day at the office can give your new hire an idea of what to wear on their first day. 

If your company has an upcoming social event (e.g., drinks after work, company barbeque, team lunch, etc.), ask your new hire to attend. It provides a less formal atmosphere to meet everyone. Did you get the sense that they are introverted and may not enjoy a group event? You can also take them for a one-on-one or small group lunch after the office tour.

This is particularly important if the new employee is relocating for the position. They’ve left all of their friends and loved ones behind, so they will naturally be concerned about forming new connections. These new connections will allow your new hire to become productive sooner, ultimately saving HR and the hiring manager time on training.

2. Get the paperwork done before they start

It’s already nerve-racking to start at a brand new company, but your new employee’s first day can go much smoother if everything is set up before their arrival. This includes sending them new hire and onboarding documents before their first day (e.g., payroll information, health benefits enrollments, non-disclosure agreements, etc.) Think about it—how often is the excitement of the first morning in a new role wasted on signing paperwork? Send the paperwork in advance, and you can get these boring details out of the way for the first day. 

A tool like GoCo provides a central location for all HR documents, and the Magic Docs functionality allows users to digitally sign, complete, and track all forms. There is no reason to fumble through additional onboarding documents—no scanning, printing, or emailing documents. The tool can help your new hire complete the process in a few minutes! 

Such a tool is indispensable from a productivity perspective, but it’s also a key aspect of the new hire experience. They want to focus on their new team, role, and company—not on reading and understanding multiple policies. An HRMS like GoCo will also allow your newest employee to complete these documents from the comfort of their own home and discuss any details with their spouse.

Get them set up in the system in advance to avoid the unnecessary burden of completing onboarding documents. This elevates your employee experience and it reduces the administrative burden on your HR team.

3. Send them swag

Most people love the novelty of company swag, so try sending some to your new hire’s address. This is a simple onboarding tip that ensures they feel special before their first day. It doesn’t need to be extravagant—items like t-shirts or coffee mugs will still make a big impact. 

If you have any swag that is relevant to personal details that they mentioned in the interview, make sure to include it. For example, did they mention they play ultimate frisbee on the weekends, and your company has branded frisbees for giveaways? Include one! Did they mention a spouse, children, or even a roommate during the interview? Send some swag for them, too! 

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4. Assign an onboarding buddy and introduce them before the first day. 

Choose someone on your team that is well-connected in the organization to assign as an onboarding buddy for your new employee. Introduce them via email before your new hire’s first day. You can also find out things that they have in common and include this in your introduction email. This peer connection is important because it gives your new hire a chance to ask questions that they may not feel comfortable asking the hiring manager or HR contact. 

Ask the buddy to invite the new hire to connect on the first day. You can opt to give a “buddy bonus,” such as a small gift card or an afternoon off for their investment into the employee onboarding experience.

5. Announce their arrival with a personal touch

Introductions may be the first item on your onboarding checklist, but when you send out an email to the department to announce your new hire’s arrival before their first day, you should make it more interesting than the standard welcome email. Get your new hire involved in the process—ask them to fill out a fun questionnaire, such as “what’s next on your travel bucket list?” or “what’s your favorite recipe?” and ask for some photos that you can share. 

Your introduction email can include the new employee’s name, start date, role, professional background, highlights of their non-professional achievements or hobbies (e.g., climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, avid reader of Sherlock Holmes novels, enjoys gardening), the answers to the questions you asked, and some photos. Don’t forget to BCC their personal email address when you send it out to keep them involved in the process. 

This introduction email may seem over-the-top, but it makes it easier for the wider team to strike up a conversation with your new hire. They’ll recognize them from the photos and will be far more likely to smile, say “hello,” and introduce themselves. This will make it easier for your new hire to forge connections and remain engaged throughout the onboarding process. 

Changing jobs is a big life decision for anyone, and by making an effort to keep your new hire engaged, you’ll show that you recognize the importance of their decision to join you. Start the onboarding process early to keep up their excitement and ease their nerves. Once you find a process that works for you, create an onboarding checklist so that you can replicate this employee onboarding experience consistently for all new team members. By following these strategies, your HR team will save time on administrative tasks and become more efficient. These gestures may feel minor, but they can make the person feel like they made the right decision, and it sets both of you up for success.

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