Welcoming new starters into your company should be a joyous occasion.

It's your opportunity to make a great first impression while making sure they have everything they need to succeed. You can't just throw them in at the deep end and expect them to produce great work. And you can't expect someone to feel truly welcome in your company if you don't onboard them properly.

Setting them up for success is really important, especially if it's a remote position without the opportunity for face to face interaction. Keeping spirits up and bringing people together is a challenge at the best of times, but when working conditions are disrupted as they are now, it's even more important.

So here are some of the most important things to get right when you're bringing in a new starter to your organisation.

New kit for new employees

LinkedIn is an ideal environment for flexing about how great your business is.

I saw a post on there (pre-pandemic) where a boss shared a photo of a desk he'd set up for a new starter. It was a grey desk with a computer screen and keyboard. It had some tat with the company logo; a mug, pen, notepad, and the like. There was no window visible. The walls were bare and neon-lit. It looked absolutely grim.

Half the responses were the usual insincere praise ("wow, what a generous thing to do!") and the others were rightfully ripping into him for creating such a miserable work environment and being so oblivious as to think that it's worth sharing.

You don't want to welcome an enthusiastic new starter with a dull corporate cubicle that looks like a prop from The Office. It's really important to get your new employee's work environment setup right to get them in a positive state of mind.

Whether you're welcoming them to a new office or setting them up for a WFH remote job, they need to be in a comfortable and healthy work environment. Here's some of the things you need to make sure of:

  • Do they have enough natural light?
  • Is their workspace quiet and distraction-free?
  • Do they have the right tech setup?
  • Are the ergonomics right so they won't end up with RSI or back problems?
  • Are they catered for in terms of heat, refreshments and reliable internet?

As well as these, the more you spend on making them feel comfortable and taken care of, the the better they'll fit in and reach their potential productivity. So you might want to consider other perks like:

  • Health and wellness programmes (gym memberships, meditation apps, other wellbeing services)
  • Time off for wellbeing (ie. unsick days)
  • Entertainment (Netflix, Audible, Xbox)
  • Development (training, subscriptions to industry publications)
  • Food vouchers for delivery and lunches

The perfect welcome email template

Looking for a template for the perfect new employee welcome email? You've come to the right place!

Because I'm going to tell you exactly what you need to know - it doesn't exist.
If there's one thing you really shouldn't use a template for, it's a welcome message for a new employee. Nobody wants to be welcomed into a company that can't be bothered writing a personalised introduction.

Making an effort to show newcomers that they're valued is crucial for them to develop a sense of belonging. You can't build a strong company culture without workers buying into it. Reciprocity is the name of the game - it's a two-way relationship, and if you start it off by showing you're not willing to give some time and effort towards your new employee, why should they want to give it back?

In the age of remote work, most of us have come to realise there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction. An in-person conversation (when it's safe to do so, of course) is a must, along with an office tour and informal introduction to their new colleagues. In some circumstances a remote introduction will be necessary, but even those can't be done just through email.

So, you can send a welcome email, but it needs to be personalised, and isn't a substitute for an actual conversation.

What should a welcome email actually do? Well, it shouldn't be doing the actual welcoming. It should act as a resource - an digital hub full of links to important stuff like:

  • Employee handbook or culture deck
  • Important documents such as your staff absence policies
  • Guides to setting up their equipment and software
  • Payroll, contract and personal information
  • Holiday tracker showing their allowance
  • Where to go if they need help or can't find something

Onboarding is an ongoing process

Remember, onboarding isn't over after the first day. It's the process of getting your new starter settled into their role, and that'll only happen after weeks or months of actually doing the job they were hired for.

You shouldn't just be monitoring their performance; you should also be checking in regularly for a chat to see how things are going. Talk to them, their colleagues, and even their clients to see if there's any support you can offer.

Feedback goes both ways; informal talks should allow you to give constructive feedback on their performance, but also to receive it. It's your opportunity to find out what gaps there might be in the support you're offering to them so that you can create a better working environment.

Continuous improvement is a collaborative process; apply the marginal gains method and you'll build a positive working relationship that only gets better with time.