The people here are great WELCOMING NEW EMPLOYEES TO THE TEAM
The first few days a new employee spends with an organization is a crucial time. It is during this time that employees begin to build relationships, garner commitment to the company, and understand the importance of relationships at work. Upon accepting a new job, people are energized and excited. Great workplaces channel that excitement through new employee orientation programs, new hire mentoring, and check-ins with new employees at various intervals after they start. Some even begin the welcoming process before employees’ first day. Through a sort of alchemy, new job excitement is converted into commitment to the organization. You will know that you and your workgroup have welcomed employees in a meaningful way when they cannot wait for the next new hire so they can be a part of the welcoming committee!
Best companies build upon the basic necessity of orientation in many ways. Some begin the welcoming process before employees even sign a letter of offer. The Boston Consulting Group has such a practice. Each prospective hire is assigned a “captain” – a BCGer who is responsible for developing a deep one-on-one relationship with the prospect and helping him or her through the decision-making process. The captain answers all questions and acts as a navigator through BCG, putting the prospective hire in touch with all relevant parties to ensure questions are fully addressed and to help him or her meet a diverse group of BCGers. Captains are typically at the principle level or above, emphasizing the importance put on making sure prospective hires have access to all the resources they need to assess fit.
Once an employee is hired, great workplaces ensure he or she begins to build relationships with others in the organization. Many managers encourage their employees to take new hires to lunch or to spend one-on-one time with the new hires. Others assign buddies or mentors to ensure that each person has a single go-to person for questions and concerns. Other companies take an organization-wide approach that includes a formal welcome published in newsletters or on the intranet. One of our favourite practices comes from CXtec, a New York-based reseller of networking and voice equipment. In its “doughnut cart” program, on the first Friday of every month, new employees who joined within
the previous month walk around the office to deliver doughnuts and coffee. This tradition provides a great way for new employees to meet other seasoned employees and experience CXtec’s culture.
Building relationships with senior leaders is also important. NetApp holds a TOAST (Training on All Special Things) program for new hires every month, led by NetApp’s CEO, Tom Georgens. TOAST features presentations from at least six of their top executives, including the CFO, the senior vice-president of Human Resources, the CMO, the vice-chairman, a founder, and others representing every major business function. At lunch, participating executives are joined by a number of vice-presidents, who each sit at a lunch table with TOAST attendees, essentially giving new employees a one-on-one opportunity to have lunch with a senior-level executive within their first month on the job. As one NetApp employee puts it, “Having the CEO, president, founders, and other top-level staff conduct the new hire orientation makes an amazing impact. It helps the new hires to feel appreciated, drives ambition, and sets the tone for the work environment.”
At some companies, the fanfare wears off quickly, but the best companies ensure the entire onboarding process does not end so abruptly. Many have some type of check-in process, whereby the new employee gives and receives feedback on the experience so far. At OhioHealth, a key component of the welcoming process is “Right at 90,” which ensures the newest team members adjust comfortably to their roles. During their first 90 days of employment, new associates meet regularly with their manager on an informal basis and receive feedback about their progress and performance. At the end of 30, 60, and 90 days of employment, new associates receive evaluations of their progress from their manager. At the end of an associate’s first 90 days, the associate and his or her manager are invited to a Right at 90 celebration, which is an opportunity to mingle with senior leadership, share experiences, tell stories, and celebrate the new associate’s desire to succeed. New associates are encouraged to bring family members and other close friends to celebrate their successful completion of a milestone event in their continued journey of growth. Not only do such programs as the one at OhioHealth ensure the employee’s success within the organization, they also further build commitment and provide suggestions for building greater camaraderie through the orientation process.
Having the CEO, president, founders, and other top-level staff conduct the new hire orientation makes an amazing impact. It helps the new hires to feel appreciated, drives ambition, and sets the tone for the work environment.
Before we leave the topic of welcoming, consider the special case of welcoming acquired employees. While in many cases, acquired employees are happy to join a new organization that is more financially sound or well-known, that isn’t always the case. Moreover, large numbers of employees are brought in at once. And those employees already have established relationships with their original organization, so the welcoming company has a more complex task than welcoming a group of employees who purposefully and willingly applied and chose to join the organization. Often, the first step to success in these situations is to understand the unique needs of acquired employees, and to create opportunities to build relationships with employees in the new organization. Some examples of successful practices follow. When CH2M HILL, a Colorado-based engineering consulting firm, acquired the Alaska-based oil and gas firm VECO, the company made an extensive effort to make the new employees feel like a part of their new company. Within weeks of the acquisition, virtually every former VECO employee attended face-to-face orientation presentations in locales as far away as Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; Sakhalin Island, Russia; Fort McMurray, Alta; and Dubai. In addition, as part of the acquisition, employees received grants of CH2M HILL stock, making them not just employees, but owners of their new company. Valero Energy Corp., which owns and operates refineries and gas stations, has a history of acquiring other refineries. In order to smoothly assimilate the employees from newly acquired refineries, senior management personally welcomes new employees, provides information on Valero’s workplace culture and benefit programs, and answers questions. Specifically, when a new facility is acquired, the CEO hosts a welcome barbecue. In addition, human resources holds informational sessions and benefit enrolment meetings for employees in all shifts and for their spouses. Qualcomm recognizes that employees from newly acquired companies have specific questions and concerns. Thus, they make a great effort to appropriately address those questions and make the employees feel welcome and integrated into Qualcomm. Extranet websites are created for each acquired company to introduce them to Qualcomm history, culture, and resources, as well as to provide detailed answers to questions about their benefits and other employment-related issues. In addition, the employees receive custom welcome packets and a customized on-site orientation session. Follow-up integration surveys help measure the success of their integration and identify areas that require attention.
Welcoming employees in thorough and deliberate ways helps build relationships, deepen commitment, and further the social rewards of being part of a group. It also positions employees for success by giving them more tools and resources to navigate their first few months on the job. Finally, it helps to build a larger sense of community, which maximizes co-operation and collaboration. Excerpted from The Great Workplace: How to Build it, How to Keep it, and Why it Matters. Copyright (c) 2011 by The Great Place to Work® Institute, Inc. Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.