The first day on the job is always stressful for a new employee. It’s also hectic for those charged with bringing that new person onboard. Between the HR handbook and getting their damn computer to work, it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks. But the first day is also a great chance to showcase your company culture and cultivate a strong dynamic from the get-go. With a little creativity, you can make the new-hire experience easy and, yeah, freaking fun. Need some inspiration? Here are 4 creative ways to do it.
1) New-Hire Gifts
An old-fashioned welcome gift is always nice, but it’s even better when it reflects your company culture. Creative experiential agency GUILD gives their people new-hire boxes that include traditional swag, such as a coffee mug, as well as practical items like a USB full of all the info they’ll need, from the HR handbook to recommended places to eat.
Likewise, eye glasses company Warby Parker gives new employees a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, because the company name comes from the book’s characters. And energy data company Opower gives employees a bottle of champagne to pop when the company hits a major goal (reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. by 1%). These are simple gestures but important cultural touchstones.
You can read a company’s mission statement, review their product catalogue, and get your first stack of business cards, but to really understand a company’s mission, sometimes you need to get your hands dirty. As such, some companies require new hires to do something outside their job title. Homejoy, a house-cleaner matching service, makes all new hires—regardless of title—go on a “test clean” (aka scrub sinks and toilets) to truly understand the company’s service and culture.
Not all initiations are so serious, of course. Google makes newbies wear a “Noogler” hat their first week to make sure everyone welcomes them appropriately.
Similarly, our parent company, Column Five, gives new hires a questionnaire that asks things like, “What’s your spirit animal?” The employee’s responses are sent to the whole company on their first day, along with an introductory bio. GUILD also conducts a “getting to know you” interview and posts the employee’s responses, as well as embarrassing childhood photos, on the Web.
3) Games and Activities
The first day can be awkward for everyone, so anything that breaks the ice is ideal. Companies like Grovo and Zazzle send new employees on a scavenger hunt. This forces employees to introduce themselves and ask fellow employees for help in accomplishing the tasks. It’s a fun, low-key way to welcome them in.
On the silly side, new employees at FORUM Credit Union get to dress mannequins in appropriate and inappropriate work wear to ensure they understand the dress code. And on the sweeter side, new employees at Jobvite find a bouquet of balloons at their desk.
4) Face Time
There’s no replacement for one-on-one face time with fellow employees or higher-ups. Hence building that into the onboarding process is vital. At Warby Parker a developer created an application that randomly selects groups of people to go to lunch on the company’s dime, making sure people from different departments are able to interact.
Online medical scheduling service ZocDoc ensures that new hires have lunch with the executive team to get face time off the bat. And event marketplace event.rio flies teams in for group meetings, including drinks and dinner.
No matter what your product or service is, finding unique ways to bring your team into the fold and make everyone feel comfortable from the beginning is the best way to build a killer culture.
For more on building your culture, check out Column Five’s 4 Ways You Can Tap Into Your Team’s Ideas.