Answer common logistical questions
Are there lockers at work available for storage? What about bike racks for cyclists? Can you park from day one or do you need to register your car before you take a space? Are there enough spaces for everyone or do you need to arrive early? Are the buses reliable or should you get an earlier one? Are there on-site showers?
When people are aware of the ‘big picture,’ they can better tie in what they’re doing with momentum that already exists within the organisation.
These are just some of the common questions people have when they start a job. You could create a logistical ‘pack’ that answers all common questions, adding to it each time someone asks a question you haven’t previously covered.
Find out their IT needs – but go further
Many organisations do a basic IT survey before providing a computer, but this often stops at the specific programmes needed for the role. You should also survey the person’s competency levels in specific programmes (for training purposes), as well as any unique ergonomic or hardware-related needs they may have.
For example, those prone to poor sleep quality would benefit from having f.lux installed, which matches the ‘warmth’ of a monitor’s output to ambient lighting conditions. Alternatively, some workers may need a bigger laptop screen due to eyestrain or require a certain type of keyboard to avoid flaring up an old RSI injury. Ultimately, if people have the right tools to do their job, they’ll feel more at home.
Introduce colleagues using a ‘scaffolded’ approach
Remembering names and job roles – especially considering the other demands of starting a new job – is difficult. It’s especially difficult if we’ve been introduced to everyone at once. And yet many line managers do this in order to build the new employee’s social network as quickly as possible.
This is rarely beneficial, though, because it’s so overwhelming. Instead, people should be introduced based on need; closest colleagues first, followed by those in cross-functional teams, key contacts in other functions and then outwards towards the rest of the organisation. This avoids overwhelming the individual and helps them develop relationships based on the natural demands of the role.
It’s also a very good idea to send round an organisational chart as early as possible so people can familiarise themselves with names and job titles.
Plot out their first few weeks explicitly
As we’ve discussed previously, uncertainty is at the heart of stressful change. One of the most stressful parts of starting a new job is the uncertainty that comes from not knowing what’s expected of you.
Organisations should be clear on expectations, especially in the first few weeks. Obviously these expectations will depend on the role. For a temporary sales job, the organisation may want to see results from day one. For a longer-term strategic role, the first few weeks may be made up solely of in-depth meetings with senior stakeholders to give the incoming employee a really strong understanding of what needs to be done.
Being very clear on expectations reduces uncertainty in the new starter’s mind, allowing them to free up space to be focused on getting the most out of their first few weeks, rather than worrying about if they are meeting expectations.
Be clear on dress code
It’s easy to think that because people have been in for interview, they know what the dress code is. But when you’re concentrating on coming across well at interview, it’s hard to get a general ‘sense’ of what people are wearing. Plus, your interviewers aren’t a good indication as they may have dressed up for the occasion.
Being clear on dress code is useful because it can have knock-on effects on people’s lifestyles, requiring them to think ahead. For example, commuting by bike is harder if you need to wear formal clothes because they get creased easily in backpacks.
Share ‘orienting’ information early
Orienting information is anything that helps new employees understand the organisation’s needs, values and goals and make decisions in the best interests of the organisation. This is important when they first join because new starters don’t want to be seen suggesting courses of action that run contrary to established goals or existing momentum.
Obvious orienting information includes three-year strategies and monthly KPIs. But there are other key items of information, such as team roles and responsibilities and individual strengths. Another example is new projects and upcoming initiatives: when people are aware of the ‘big picture,’ they can better tie in what they’re doing with momentum that already exists within the organisation.
Provide clear points-of-contact
When people start jobs they have questions in distinct areas, from HR (“How do I change my next-of-kin information?”) to IT (“How do I raise a ticket for a computer problem?”) and strategy (“Does this idea align with the company’s three-year vision?”).
Ultimately, if people have the right tools to do their job, they’ll feel more at home.
It feels embarrassing to ask who you should speak to every time you have a question: new starters will feel more welcome and ‘part of the family’ if they know who they should speak to about each type of query.
This is especially true in larger organisations, for example where HR teams could be 20-strong and spread out across multiple locations. In this case there’s no obvious point of contact and it’s easy for a new starter to find themselves adrift, not knowing who to speak to.