Your employee's first day in your company is crucial for a number of reasons, and yet is often overlooked and handled poorly. It has the power to make or break how the employee feels about your company, and how much they are prepared to give you during their time with you. By making it memorable, you have the foundations for a loyal, long-term employee. By making it unpleasant, you risk the employee leaving before you can even say "probation".
Before they start, make sure you're prepared.
Get their computer and desk ready, set up some basic stationery supplies, order any personalised items (name badges, security passes, uniforms etc), and update staff directories with their contact details. Print any paperwork or forms they'll need to complete and leave on their desk with a note explaining the timeframes.
Prepare them for what to expect — what to wear, what facilities are available for lunch, whether there's cafes and shops close by, where to park. Let them know what time they should arrive — generally 15-30 minutes after their normal start time is ideal, as it allows the rest of the office to arrive beforehand so everyone is ready.When they arrive, be ready! Don't make them wait while you finish a meeting or task. Make sure your receptionist and other staff members know they are arriving — there's nothing worse than a new hire standing at reception while the receptionist awkwardly makes calls to find out where they should go. Take them straight to their desk so they can put down their belongings, and show them the kitchen so they can put their lunch in the fridge. Offer them a cup of tea, and allow them some time to settle.
First day nerves aren't fun for anyone!
A moment to take in their new surroundings will help shape the rest of the day. Spend a few minutes chatting with them — ask how their weekend was, how they found the drive in, any kind of small talk to put them at ease. Give them a tour of the office and building, and start to slowly introduce them to their colleagues. It's best to start with those they'll be working closely with — they'll meet everyone else as required.
At the end of the day, send them home 15 minutes early (or more!). It's their first day, they won't be achieving too much anyway and this small gesture will go a long way. Before they head off though, catch them for five minutes and check in on how they're feeling. They may have questions or requests, there might be something you've missed explaining — but giving them the opportunity to ask about it will mean they go home feeling listened to and valued.