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Lay down the welcome mat

Make a new hire’s first week a smash

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in HR Management,Human Resources

In this tight job market, you may feel lucky to get anyone to fill an open position. But don’t celebrate too soon. By making the newcomer feel welcome from the outset, you increase the odds that the worker will stay and prosper.

Here’s a road map for maximizing a new hire’s first week on the job:

Cut the formalities. Larger companies tend to herd new employees through a highly structured orientation. This often includes a fact-filled slide show about the firm, a canned speech by a senior officer and a question-and-answer session led by human resources reps.

Avoid this cookie-cutter approach. If you make the orientation process too bureaucratic, it can be an immediate turnoff. Inject fun and spontaneity into the proceedings through informal mingling rather than lectures. Example: A New England retail firm invites new hires to a clambake or a company softball game.

Introduce on paper, then in person. Most bosses grab a newcomer on day one and say, “Let me introduce you around.” Then the harried employee is escorted in a rush and shakes hands with dozens of strangers—promptly forgetting everyone’s name.

Here’s a better way: Give the individual a list of every employee’s name and title, ideally with accompanying photos. Large employers can limit the list to colleagues in the same unit. Give the new hire a day to study the list before arranging for face-to-face introductions.

Craft a fun memo. Before announcing who’s coming aboard, let the new hire review and approve the memo. Include some human interest tidbits, such as unusual hobbies or favorite books or movies. You may even want to write the memo as an interview, letting the individual’s voice come across in a lively, entertaining way.

Remain accessible. While you should not shower a new employee with constant attention—and then disappear once the person settles in—stage quick “how are you doing?” chats during the first week.

Stroll by the newcomer’s office, poke your head in and say “hi.” Emphasize that you’re available to answer any questions, and suggest “office hours” when you’ll be easy to reach. This way, you put the ball in the employee’s court to follow up. Mentioning when you’re free adds a thoughtful touch; it shows you’re serious about wanting to help with the transition.

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