When it comes to new hires, your first impression of each other likely took place on Interview Day – but your new hire’s first impression of the company culture usually takes place on their first day in the office.
To maximize this first impression and put your culture’s best foot forward, consider creating a Team Member Welcome Kit. Welcoming new hires with open arms and energizing them about the new place they will call home is an essential part of getting them settled and laying the foundation to become productive members of the team. I personally prefer using the language of “Team Member” as opposed to “Employee” because it accounts for Contractor and Vendor relationships, and I think the word “employee” can have some negative connotations in our culture. Use whatever you feel most comfortable with and that fits your organization’s nomenclature.
Providing a defined framework and establishing good boundaries at the outset of any engagement is always a good idea, but when you do this in employee (or contractor) relationships you will:
- have the first chance to define what the company culture is all about
- set proper expectations about what work together looks like
- ensure a more productive long-term relationship
- help reduce, and in some cases eliminate the dripping interruption of questions and answers over the first few weeks a new person is on the job
- establish a pattern for how you want the team member to engage you and others
- communicate that you have a vision for the future
Keep in mind, this Team Member Welcome Kit is in addition to any Employee or Human Resources Manual you may have in place. The Team Member Welcome Kit should be seen as a tool to help facilitate and inform the new team member, much in the same way you would provide a new client with a Client Orientation Kit. Usually it is reviewed with the new team member by a direct supervisor. It should communicate cultural information, but be informative. If it’s all fluff (e.g.: rainbows and unicorns about how great it is to work here) – no one will care about it. If it’s all information or policy, it will be seen as something that should be folded into the Employee Manual.
Items to Include:
When it comes to content, I prefer to think about and include protocols as opposed to policies. Where protocols focus on “etiquette” and/or “customs” – policies feel very dictatorial and rigid. Not the tone you are attempting to set with this document. Let the HR department draw the hard lines, it is expected of them (and accepted by employees).
Here is a list of 24 items (or protocols) that should be included in any good Team Member Welcome Kit:
- How to greet and treat visitors (or guests)
- Entering and exiting the building
- How to arm/disarm security system, plus what to do in the event you trigger an alarm
- Emergency situations (What to do in the event of a fire, tornado, earthquake, etc.)
- Working remotely
- How to book the conference rooms or meeting spaces
- Details on amenities (staff refreshments, food, guest refreshments)
- Wi-Fi access (public or guest access, and private access)
- How to access the company intranet
- How to access the company phone / email directory
- How to access the company calendar
- How to use the phone system and fax machine
- How to use the copy machine
- How to answer the phone (if applicable)
- Cleaning, janitorial, and maintenance requests
- Restrooms – locations if large facility
- How to request IT or network access assistance
- How to access email and instant message services
- Physical mailing address and shipping (FedEx, UPS drop-off locations)
- Standard Email Signatures
- Information about online applications and/or team tools for group use
- Lunch and break room details
- Office attire (dress code expectations)
- Office protocols (free example below)
- Office supplies location and use
Remember, your Team Member Welcome Kit is not intended to be an exhaustive manual of do’s and don’ts. Rather, it should be designed to facilitate answers to frequently asked questions that new employees ask while infusing a sense of the company culture.
Office Space Protocols
Door Fully Open
When a door is fully open, consider that to mean that the person is available for conversations and discussions. That said, be respectful of other’s time – no one likes to be interrupted needlessly. If you can send the person a quick email rather than just ‘popping in’ do that to ensure that those around you can maintain their focus. Please pay particular attention to this with those that work in an open work area.
Door Half Open
When a door is half open, consider that to mean that the person is busy, or focused on the task at hand. Typically the person would only desire interaction with others that they are working with on a particular project. If the matter can wait, come back or send the person an email about what you want to talk with them about. For those with assistants – unscheduled visitors are typically screened and may be told that the person is in meetings or unavailable. It is OK to call this person and let them know of incoming phone calls, but they may let it go to voicemail once the call is transferred. This person should set their IM status to ‘busy, but available’.
When a door is shut, consider that to mean that the person is requesting total privacy and freedom from any interruption. Unless the matter is urgent, please refrain from knocking on the door or interrupting. Unscheduled visitors are typically told that the person is in meetings or unavailable. Phone calls are sent directly to voicemail and IM’s ignored (the person should set their IM availability to ‘unavailable’ or ‘away’).
Open Office Work
Those that work in an open office environment do not always have the luxury of closing their doors to ensure privacy. Please keep this in mind and look to their body language and other signals that let you know if the person is focused or busy. If they are working and don’t want to be interrupted, they may have headphones on, or may not look up from their screen when you pass by or enter the room. For those who you have IM access to, be sure to ask first if they have a moment for a quick conversation rather that just show up and interrupt their focus.
Lobby / Hallway / ‘Water Cooler’ Conversations
Be mindful that there are multiple individuals working in the space around you, each with different focuses and tasks to complete. Attempt to maintain a professional tone and language in your dialogue with those around you. Someone may be in the next room on the phone, or meeting with a client.
Get Started on Your Team Member Welcome Kit
Most of this information is likely at your fingertips. It won’t take you long to create, so why not get started and help your next hire feel better about their new home while you enjoy the freedom of never having to answer the same question again!
Question: What other items have you included in your Team Member Welcome Kit? I’d love to hear from you!