Up to 20 percent of employee turnover occurs within the first 45 days an employee joins a new company. The $3,000 to $43,000 price tag for each such departure makes onboarding an essential aspect of HR service and a significant influence on employee engagement and retention. Creating a welcome package for new hires is one way to reduce turnover by helping new hires feel excited about joining the company and calming their nerves by providing clear expectations, outcomes, and goals for their first day. A well-thought-out welcome package can leave a lasting impression and empower new employees in their roles.
TIP: Create a welcome package template that can be tailored for the needs of each new employee. A consistent approach will help to prevent knowledge gaps during the onboarding experience.
1. Send a welcome e-mail
Engage new employees from the moment they join the organization by sending them a welcome message. MasterCard’s HR department excels at this strategy:
[I]mmediately after a new employee is hired, they receive a welcoming e-mail [that] includes links to company videos and access to a website where they can “update their employment information, upload a photo for their badge, read about learning opportunities, and complete paperwork for benefits enrollment, taxes, and direct deposit.”
In addition to information that can help a new employee settle in quickly, this message could include a short video from the CEO. Here’s the basic structure of an effective welcome e-mail:
Welcome to [company name], [employee’s name]!
[CEO welcome video (optional)]
We’re so excited to have you join us as our [position title].
Just a reminder, your first day will start on [date] at [time]. Please ask for [onboarding facilitator name] when you arrive, and he’ll/she’ll meet you in the lobby. Our dress code is [dress code], so [an item you’d wear at work] are fine with us!
Again, congratulations. We look forward to having you on our team!
[Google Map link for directions]
When it’s well-crafted and customized for each new hire, a welcome message can help increase an organization’s onboarding engagement rate and strengthen the HR function.
2. Provide an employee handbook
Every organization should give new hires a handbook that clearly outlines the company’s policies and rules as well as its expectations of its employees. The handbook can also provide information about the company’s history, mission, vision, and values (for example, by describing its impact on the world and its clients). By highlighting company culture and development options, a handbook can also promote lifelong learning.
3. Make a first-day agenda
Help new employees hit the ground running (and not get lost!) by providing a clear outline of the activities and projects on their first day. For example:
- 9–10: Team introduction and office tour
- 10–11: Software review and setup
- 11–12: Meet with Human Resources
- 12–1: LUNCH (Our treat!)
- 1–2: [Department] training
- 2–3: “Why [company name]? Our vision, mission, and values.”
- 3-4: [Department] training
- 4–5: [Department] training
Be sure to include locations (building, wing, floor, and room information) so new hires know where to go. And even though a particular event is officially slotted for an hour, be sure to leave a few minutes at the end of each segment for water and bathroom breaks and for employees to get to their next destinations.
4. Show off the local amenities
Help new employees feel more positive about being at the office (where they’ll be spending a lot of their time) by making them aware of amenities in the area. Where are the best parking spots nearby? What grocery stores are convenient? Which neighborhood cafes and restaurants have the best food? Provide information about nearby gyms, dry cleaners, and day care facilities as well.
TIP: Create a map that shows both the office and nearby top amenities.
Helping new employees learn about useful and interesting features of their new “work neighborhood” can ease their transition to their new location.
5. Provide onboarding instructions for your Human Resource Information System (HRIS)
By automating many of HR data-oriented functions, an HRIS can save a company both time and money (and free up HR to focus more on the actual people). HRIS applications vary from company to company, so welcome packages should include information about the specific HRIS new hires will be working with. In addition to the login information they’ll need to get set up with the software, this information should also include a detailed list of the items they’re required to complete.
6. Give out some swag!
Company swag is an optional component of the welcome package that won’t make or break a new hire’s onboarding experience. But this relatively inexpensive gesture can make a new employee’s first day feel special. Consider handing out a few gifts that are practical for work-related tasks (USB drives, notebooks, pens, etc.), as well as some with broader applications (t-shirts, backpacks, umbrellas, coffee mugs, hats, etc.). Company swag not only helps promote the organization’s brand (both inside and outside the office), but it helps develop a new employee’s sense of belonging with the company.
No one signs a contract for a new job and shows up the first day already knowing everything about his or her new position and feeling like a full member of the company. With a welcome package that lays out clear expectations, outcomes, and goals, an organization can set the tone for the rest of the new employee’s time there. Making new hires feel welcome and informed is the first step toward helping them succeed in their new roles!
Danielle Freedland is a content marketing specialist at Humi, Canada's HR, payroll, and benefits solution for growing teams. She originally wrote this piece for JazzHR, where they’re on a mission to make recruiting and hiring easy, effective, and scalable no matter what growth looks like at your company. The Jazz Performer Platform doesn't just help your company grow, it can help your recruiting process grow up, putting you on the path to hiring “Performers Only.”