The ideal first day at work – what makes a great start?

By Anthony Wolny | 17th October 2019 | 10 min read

After spending weeks sifting, interviewing and selecting the top talent for your new role, you’re finally ready to introduce them to the company. So, how can you make sure you’re giving your new employee the best possible start.

We interviewed Darren Nuttall, Director of networx, market leading recruitment software and recruitment service providers, to find out…

What’s the ideal on-boarding experience for a new employee?

A good onboarding process will make your new starter feel part of your organisation before they’ve even set foot in the door. They should feel excited and enthusiastic about joining somewhere new, that you’re looking forward to welcoming them, and that answers to any queries they have are readily available.

Portraying the organisation accurately, professionally and giving the overall impression of the business as a whole goes a long way at this stage. Your new employee needs to understand what they need to do before they start, and to feel comfortable with the expectations of the company and their new role.

Remember that your candidate may still be receiving offers from other job applications, or a counter offer from their existing employer asking them to stay. This makes it imperative that the way you welcome them assures them that they’ve made the right decision by choosing you – reducing the risk of candidate remorse.

On their first day?

A warm welcome and an organised induction plan are both important factors of day one. New employees want to know what’s required of them and that there’s a clear plan for their induction. That means that providing a mapped-out process of what your new starter will be working on and learning during the first week, month, quarter, and so on, is key in welcoming them to the business.

It’s also important that the information provided during on-boarding is followed up on when they arrive.

What could go wrong?

Arriving on your first day and realising that no one is expecting you is a lonely welcome to a new job. Add to this poor technology, logins not ready, lost onboarding paperwork, and a long wait for induction, and you’re off to an extremely bad start. Overly complicated induction processes can also set a poor tone.

How can employers avoid a bad start?

Focusing on engagement from the very beginning is key – starting early in the offer, throughout the onboarding process, all the way to day one and beyond. Multiple people are involved in welcoming new starters and you need to make sure that everyone involved knows how to play their part.

The actions of the recruiter start this process, as they’re the first point of contact. While there is a lot of information to share, make sure candidates aren’t being overloaded with tasks and information. Overcomplicating the process at this stage and trying to do too much too soon can dilute what you’re trying to achieve and results in loss of messaging. Identify what’s necessary straight away and what can be picked up later. Less is more.

Also focus on the main purpose of investing in a good onboarding process – reducing time to hire and creating a great candidate experience. These things will help ensure your recruitment is effective.

Having an electronic process can simplify this stage and will also reduce the burden of admin on your recruiting teams, particularly where you’re recruiting more than one new starter at the same time. Investing in technology, such as an onboarding portal and electronic signature technology, will be a worthwhile improvement to this process.

You’ll then be able to provide all the information needed to introduce your new starter to the company quickly and effectively. Doing this electronically speeds up the process by negating the need for printing and posting documents such as contracts and new starter forms. It’s also a great way to provide the ideal springboard prior to your new starter having access to internal systems such as an intranet and induction.

Providing a consistent point of contact is also important for any further questions or queries. This could be through the HR team, the candidate’s direct report, or their new manager.

And of course, good communication plays a huge role in all of this – both outside and within the organisation to show a joined-up approach and a positive move for your new employee.

Any insider tips?

At networx, a candidate applies for a role by setting up a candidate account and this account then stays with them all the way through their onboarding journey. Our professional-looking portal provides all the information through one single source, including key policies they need to read, documents they need to sign and submit electronically, as well as information such as their location, start date and time. We highly recommend this efficient type of process.

However, remember that not everything needs doing through the onboarding portal. The portal is there to serve the purpose of engaging with the candidate effectively beforehand and during onboarding. Don’t try to cram too much information in.

What matters most to you at a new job?

For me personally, I want to feel like I’ve walked into a plan – a clear understanding of what’s required of me and a good framework around how to deliver this. From this, I can start to build everything else.

However, in general, the most important elements to cover are making sure that your company is organised and ready for your new employee, that you’ve arranged inductions, and that the new starter understands the expectations of their role. This covers most people’s wants for their first days, so if you deliver this, you’ll be off to a great start.

Always remember, first impressions last – it’s as simple as that.