September 7th, 2017 | Sterling

Importance of a Positive First Day Experience

Employees playing foosball at the office

Think back to your most recent hiring experience. What were the things that you remembered most? Did you have a positive or negative experience? There has been a greater focus on the candidate experience in the past year, and it will only grow as more people share their job search and hiring experiences online and on social platforms. In today’s social world, any impressionable experience (good and bad) can go viral in a matter of hours. Creating a good hiring experience, from filling out an application to day-one activities, will positively affect an organization in revenue and brand reputation. The job market is more candidate-driven than ever before. For candidates to choose to apply for a position at an organization, they are doing more research and are looking for a smoother hiring experience.

Making a great first impression to a new employee will have a lasting effect. In fact, most employees decide whether to stay at a new job within their first six months. Effective onboarding (or first day activities) tells a cohesive, compelling employer brand story. It engages and socializes the new hire from the beginning. It provides the skills, knowledge and tools the new employee needs to become a productive, successful team member.

We recently spoke with Janet Watts CPHR/SHRM-CP, Human Resources Business Partner in our (Surrey) Vancouver office to get her insight into the importance of first day activities for Sterling Talent Solutions employees.

Walk through the first day activities for Sterling employees- Is there a tour, orientation and first-day paperwork?

Janet Watts: “On their first day, employees are welcomed to the organization by a member of the Human Resources team. We conduct an HR Orientation, including a walkthrough of handbook information employees are most interested in; a tour of the office (including staff lounge, kitchen and coffee bar); and they are given all their new hire forms.  Once this is complete, the new hires are handed over to their new manager or the training department – depending on their role.

During their second week of training, each new hire is “buddied up” with a staff member in the office.  We want to help new employees feel welcome and at home here at Sterling Talent Solutions. To do this, we have created a ‘buddy system’ that will help new employees feel supported throughout their training and encourage a smooth transition into their new departments and roles.”

Is the “office buddy” on the same team or can they be anyone in the office?

Janet Watts: “The buddy doesn’t have to be from the same team, although, our Training Manager likes to try and pair them with someone who is from the department that they will be going into, but that sometimes doesn’t always work out. It usually depends on how many volunteers we have.”

Why do you wait one week to introduce the new person to the buddy?

Janet Watts: “The first week is usually quite overwhelming for new hires because we throw a lot of information at them and do a lot of introductions. The last thing we want to do is increase the new hire’s anxiety by expecting them to develop a relationshiop with their buddy. Waiting a week for the new hire to feel more comfortable in their new role and environment before introducing the buddy tends to ensure the system works effectively. We have also found that introducting buddies too early has led to limted interactions between the two. “

Is new employee paperwork sent before the first day?

Janet Watts: “Employees are currently provided with their new hire forms on the first day of employment.  We are very excited about working with our Senior Talent Director and project team to be utilizing SterlingOne with an employee portal.  This will ensure that new hires receive their new hire forms and information before day one.  It will also assist with immersing the new hire into the Canadian Sterling Talent Solutions culture before they walk in the front door on day one!”

What is the paperwork required for new Canadian employees (federal, provincial and Sterling)?

Janet Watts: “There are various federal, provincial and Sterling required paperwork that will be completed on the first day by the new employee:

  • Welcome letter from Sterling
  • HR Information Form
  • Key Card Contract
  • Non-disclosure and Proprietary Rights Agreement
  • Benefits Summary
  • Benefits Application Form
  • How to access the Sterling Talent Solutions Employee Handbook
  • Canadian Tax Forms
  • Directions on how to register for ePost
  • Information Security Handbook
  • Privacy Policy
  • Code of Conduct
  • RRSP Information Packet
  • EFAP Overview”

How do you make the first day memorable? First-day gifts? Lunch with the team? Lunch with Manager?

Janet Watts: “To be honest, this is an area we are still working on.  We do much of our Operations Team hiring in batches and I think it important to give those new hires an opportunity to get to know each other and their Trainer on a more personal level, so lunch is provided on the first day with the intent of providing a social atmosphere.  In addition to the first day lunch, the new hires are invited to participate in Treat Day with their new teams – this provides an opportunity for more interaction and some relationship building before the new employees graduate from training and move into their respective departments.”

Could you explain the coordination with recruiting, HR and new employee’s manager for the new employee’s first day?

Janet Watts: “I am incredibly happy to say that this is an area where we are making some positive changes. When our corporate recruiters are responsible for the hiring, I work very closely with them, and the hiring manager, to ensure that our candidates are properly screened; receive the correct version of our offer letter, and arrange first day contacts and details.  When I am doing the recruiting, I also take responsibility for these items.

Because the majority of our new hires are going into Operations and are with our Training Manager for the first six weeks of their employment, I work closely with training to ensure first day orientation flows smoothly.  Before the first day we set up computer access, prepare new hire packages, discuss the orientation presentation and ensure that introductory meetings are set up.

Our orientation is about more than just the first day.  In addition to the traditional on-boarding activities… such as paperwork… we are a team and make sure that the following actions take place over the first four weeks of employment:

  • An email is sent out to all staff in Canada welcoming the new hires
  • Orientation and office tour
  • Schedule and attend a Leaders Introduction Meeting
  • Manage introduction to the Operations Team including an invitation to Treat Day
  • Safety Orientation
  • Social Committee and REACH Introduction
  • Ensure check-in meetings are conducted with the hiring manager and that performance expectations and standards are discussed, so there are no surprises later “

Do you find it important to use a cross-departmental onboarding team? (i.e., training, compliance, IT, management)

Janet Watts: “Absolutely!  Over the last six months, I have been working very closely with our Training Manager and Department Heads to design a new hire orientation process (above) that focuses on new hire success and integration from day one.  Everyone from HR to Training, Payroll to IT and the hiring manager play a critical role in making this the best possible on-boarding experience.  Clear, ongoing communication between the parties is key to our success….and the success of our new hires.”

When do you begin communicating the company culture and how?

 Janet Watts: “Communicating company culture begins with the very first call to the candidate.  During the initial phone screening, I talk about the benefits of working for Sterling, and the culture of the Surrey office including the Open Door Policy and the many social/philanthropic activities that take place.  These discussions continue throughout the interview process and the offer stage.  It’s incredibly important for candidates to understand our culture. Whether to accept a job offer or not, is a big decision and candidates need to have all available information for making that decision – culture is a big part of that decision-making process.”

Do you do follow-up calls with the candidate to let them know about the recruiting, hiring and first- day process?

Janet Watts: “In the week prior to the candidates starting, I do send out an email welcoming them again to Sterling, outlining hours of work for the first day and the training period, who the first point of contact will be (even if it’s me), a parking map and let them know that we will be providing lunch on day one. Before the start date, all contact with the new hires is done through HR.

Solid new employee first day programs will have a positive impact your business’s bottom line. It will help an organization attract and retain the best talent and empowers the human resources team to focus on finding, recruiting and securing the best talent for the company. To find out more about open positions at Sterling Talent Solutions check out our updated careers page.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.