One reason that onboarding gets a bad rap is because, well, it’s usually just as bad as people think it is. The first few days of onboarding and new hire trainings can be really dull, filled with endless PowerPoint presentations and hours of dry information with few breaks. Most companies don’t bother with creative employee onboarding strategies–even though they should.
Creative employee onboarding processes not only make program less painful for everyone involved—new hires and trainers, alike—but they can also help create an excellent first impression of what it’s like to work for the company and help sustain enthusiasm for the business.
Here are six suggestions for getting creative with the onboarding process:
Orchestrate a laid-back start
Everyone defaults to starting on a Monday, but why? Chances are you don’t have a full week’s worth of training to do (no matter how far you take your creative employee onboarding mission), so don’t force it.
Learning new information all day can be exhausting and the new hires are focusing on retaining everything in addition to making a first impressions, which can be taxing in and of itself.
If you have three days of training, start your program on a Wednesday, giving new workers the first part of the week to prepare and the weekend to process before starting their first day of actual work the following Monday.
Swag it up
People love free stuff (there’s no getting around that) and loading up new hires with swag on day one helps to welcome them to the “family” from the start. It can be hard to feel like a part of the team during early days of a new job, so hooking up newbies with the same pair of branded sunglasses everyone else in the office wears or a team hoodie can go a long way.
Plus, the more people wearing your brand when they’re out and about in the world translates to more free advertising for the company.
Write an engaging employee handbook
Every savvy small business owner should have an employee handbook, but like onboarding, these valuable little manuals can get a reputation for being dry and dull. Consider hiring a professional writer and charge them with making your employee handbook fun to read. Not only will your new hires actually read it, it also gives you a chance to infuse your company’s identity into the document as well.
Consider assigning each new hire a work “buddy”
These days, many companies assign new hires to a mentor, in addition to a manager. The most cutting-edge companies, however, set new hires up with work “buddies” as well. Unlike a mentor, this peer-to-peer relationship is an informal one, with the goal that the new hire should feel much more comfortable asking questions and learning about what the organization is really like from someone on their level who they don’t have to worry about impressing.
Rotate management roles through other positions in the company
When hiring management positions and above, consider including a rotation through as many of the lower positions in the company as you can in your creative employee onboarding process. Not only will it help managers to understand and relate to the employees under their charge, but it will give them the best sense possible of how your business does what it does from the ground up.
Plan a little happy hour or reception or bring a cake into the office at lunch to show your new hires that the company is excited to have them. These events can be extravagant as you want, but it’s worth remembering that it’s all about the gesture and that even little things can count for a lot to people when they’re starting a new gig.
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