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Improve Employee On-Boarding Pt. 2: The First Day Effect

In Part I of this two-part on-boarding series, we discuss how a solid on-boarding framework can streamline the process of bringing a new hire into the fold. Read Part I of this series here.

In 2011 I started a new position at a company that I was thrilled to be joining. I arrived early, and dressed a little more business than I would come to find was really needed. Co-workers started me off with some simple tasks, I went on a quest to find where they kept the pens, and I think I solved the mystery of who my boss was. In hindsight it might not have been the smoothest first day, but the company and my new team were exactly what I wanted to be a part of, and I’ve been here at HighRock (did you guess??) ever since.


Fast-forward a few years, and we’ve learned and improved after each new employee’s first day. That also means that we all experienced some bumps in our on-boarding process! We expect to have imperfect first days, and a new hire’s experience won’t be ruined because we forgot to tell them where the pens are, but our aim is to reflect after each new hire, and make improvements for our next addition to the team.


With culture and purpose at the top of candidates lists, developing your reputation as a good employer might be more important than ever. Top talent are looking for top employers! Show your new hire you have a team they’ll want to be with for the long haul with a great first day experience.


Reach Out

The time between making an offer, and the first day on the job often sees little to no communication. There’s the initial excitement on both sides, a start date is decided, and then communication drops off in the dead zone until the first day.

While you don’t need to keep in constant contact, a quick email or phone call to touch base the week before the first day is an opportunity to jumpstart that working relationship, and gives an opportunity for questions. This is also a good time to remind all staff that someone new is starting soon!

Points to hit:

  1. Be excited! Remind them that you’re looking forward to working with them, and set the tone before the first day.
  2. Talk logistics. Tell them when to arrive, who will be there to meet them, where to park, etc.
  3. What to wear? Attire is a really common question, so give them an idea of what is appropriate.
  4. Share the plan. Let them know what they can expect on the first day, and any items they should bring.
  5. Encourage questions. Let them know the best way to reach you if anything comes up, or if they have questions you didn’t address.

Have a Game Plan

No matter what goes into your on-boarding process, the most important thing to remember is to be intentional. Whether you love to plan every detail, or prefer to “wing it”, going in with nothing prepared is going to make for a rough road for you and your new team member.

A good place to start is to determine who will be involved with on-boarding, and who will administer training. Set a quick meeting to assign those roles, and discuss what each person will cover.

Our training plans are designed to accomplish a few key goals:

  1. Impart the knowledge we need the employee to know
  2. Set aside tasks that new team members can do on their own (and give you both a break in training)
  3. Map out the first few weeks and months of an employee’s growth towards fully adopting their new role

Close up of HighRock Welcome gift bag

Make the First Day Rock

The first day is the employer’s time to nail that first impression,­ allowing both company and new hire to shine, and implement all of the resources we’ve put together. Here’s what a new HighRocker’s first day on the job looks like:

  1. A HighRocker will meet them, and show them to their workspace, which is already prepped with computer, office supplies, and the gift of HighRock swag.
  2. They’ll get a tour of the office, we show them where they can find crucial things like pens and forks, and they’ll meet all of their new co-workers. We also take this opportunity to start talking about what each department, and each team member does.
  3. We’ll have a kickoff meeting to go over our welcome packet, talk about the plans for the day and week, and start some training on communication tools like Slack and email.
  4. They’ll have some time to get settled in before we take them to lunch. All team members are encouraged to join!
  5. In the afternoon, they can take some time at their desk to go through the welcome packet, address their Week 1 checklist, and start to get their bearings with all the new things. They’ll also have time with their supervisor to talk about tasks for the day and week.
  6. Before they leave for the day, we check in to see if there are any questions, and make plans for Day 2.

Before you get to work on all of your new ideas to improve on-boarding for your team, check out more tips, industry advice, and musings from the rest of the HighRock team on our Posts page.