10 Unique Ideas for Onboarding New Employees

Onboarding is a critical time for new employees. Not only does it set the tone and stage for their time with your company, but it can also have long-reaching effects on employee performance and morale.

Here are some fun ways you can spice up your employee onboarding program to ensure new employees feel connected and welcomed right off the bat.

1. Provide multiple initial contacts and resources.

Be sure to identify specific key contacts for the new employee. Ensure they understand who they report to, who is on their team, who they can go to with questions or concerns, and who the internal HR representative is. Establishing these contacts early on helps new employees know who to talk to whenever they run into trouble or have a question about a task.

2. Consider desk geography.

Be thoughtful when you assign desk space to a new employee. If they are in a collaborative role, or if there are people within the company whose expertise they could benefit from, try to seat them near those individuals. If they are part of a team, make sure they are sitting alongside their team members so they feel included and so they can easily lean across the aisle to ask quick questions.

3. Encourage social connections.

On one of their first days, have the employee shadow people in different roles across the company. Down the line, find a way to circle back and reconnect them. Initiating these connections early on helps bridge separations between departments.

4. Volunteer at events.

Every time you hire a new employee, arrange an offsite volunteer event so your team can get to know each other while also giving back to the community. This gets the team socializing away from the office, and volunteering for a worthy cause can be a great culture statement.

5. Introduce every new hire to senior leadership.

The possibility of this will, of course, depend on the size of your organization, but if your company is small enough, consider arranging a lunch–perhaps one per quarter, or whatever timeline is feasible–with new hires and the leadership team so they can get to know each other. It helps new hires feel valued and connected to the bigger picture.

6. Prepare their workspace.

Provide a warm welcome by having everything ready for your new employee when they show up for their first day. This includes their business cards, nametag, and computer workstation. Add a few fun items, too, like candy or other treats and items with your company logo on them.

7. Create a scavenger hunt.

Make a list of tasks for the new employee to complete on their first day. The goal of this exercise is to get them familiar with the office building and the people in your company. Examples of tasks could include getting signatures that show they’ve met three managers and learning how to submit an expense report.

Alternatively (or additionally), have the employee complete an online scavenger hunt to learn important information and tasks, such as how to navigate the company intranet and reserve a room to schedule a meeting.

8. Bring back picture day!

Take every new employee’s photo and display these pictures in a shared space, like a reception area, break room, or elevator, to help everyone remember names. This could be particularly helpful at large companies that hire new people frequently.

9. Provide company materials and welcome letters.

Provide new employees with welcome letters and information about the company’s goals, values, and mission to help frame expectations for the company culture. Feel free to have fun with this one! Include an “insider’s guide” to the company, an internal handbook with helpful tips you could source from other recent hires. Additionally, include a “welcome to the team!” card and have all department members sign it.

10. Ask them to fill out a new employee questionnaire.

Create a “get to know you” worksheet for new hires where they can provide information about themselves. These questionnaires could ask about their favorite restaurants, places to shop, and favorite colors. (We have one you can download for free!)

More Resources – we recommend checking out a great book called The First 90 Days that contains more onboarding tips, such as creating a learning agenda for your new hires.


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