The first day sets the tone for a new hire’s Employee Experience. But without investing time in designing the right first day plan, you risk making the wrong first impression.

A new hire’s first day should provide validation on their decision to accept the job offer — meaning no overloading them with information or leaving them at their desk with nothing to do.

Though organizing team introductions and providing essential company information may be the primary focus of Day One, there is more to planning an effective first day experience than tracking down an old employee handbook.

So what does an effective First Day Plan look like?

With a flood of new faces, introductions, and information, the first day onboarding for a new employee can be overwhelming.

First day interactions and experiences are always amplified, so People Operations should have a plan to manage every part of the day.

Shannon McAlister, Office Manager at Zumper, provides an excellent first day experience that both excites and prepares new hires to start making meaningful contributions.

“When heading into their new role, new hires are usually full of energy and enthusiasm — which should be channeled into learning and socialization,” Shannon says. “We have a repeatable plan in place to make their first day awesome and welcome them to the Zumper family.”

Zumper's first day onboarding ideas for new hires.

What can we learn from Zumper’s first day plan?

1. Coffee, donuts, and lunch are far less intimidating than a formal conference room introduction.

Calm a new hire’s first day nerves with relaxed team meetings. Zumper encourages early team building by scheduling two informal first day gatherings between new hires and their new teammates. Though relaxed, Zumper ensures that these key introductions are well planned for — meaning no impersonal hand waves as the new hire is being toured around the office.

2. First day energy is channeled into learning about company culture and key information.

New hires aren’t assigned to a desk then left alone to read dated handbooks — they’re first made comfortable, introduced to their new team, then guided through the most important aspects of the company.

3. No time is wasted on setting up a new laptop or downloading software.

The first day is short — instead of spending it taking care of groundwork, Zumper makes the most of each hour. Providing new hires with everything they’ll need from Day One equips them for early success.

4. It’s all about presentation.

Company Swag is waiting for new hires the moment they reach their desk.

Taking the time to prepare a welcome spread shows new hires how excited you are to have them join the team. Put in that extra bit of effort to make a ‘good’ first day a ‘great’ one.

First Day Onboarding Ideas for New Hires: Zumper prepares a new hire's desk with company swag.

5. There is a balance between one-on-one and group meetings.

Team meetings begin acclimating new hires to Zumper’s collaborative work culture, while individual meetings with the office manager ensure a firm understanding of the basics.

End-of-day one-on-ones answer any pending questions to make sure the new hire is confident, informed, and prepared to move forward in the onboarding process.

What else can People Ops do to ensure a great first day experience?

  • Prepare managers by making sure they have their Onboarding Plan in place.
  • Map out the first few items of attention for both a new hire’s buddy and manager
  • Provide managers with a quick checklist of key items to discuss in a First Day meeting, such as:
  • Goals and objectives for the role
  • How the new hire takes feedback
  • How they can best work together

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to first day strategy. Take the time to figure out what a meaningful first day experience should look like at your company, and build a base plan.

An excellent first day onboarding experience begins aligning new hires with company mission, teams, and culture from the moment they enter their new office. With a strategic onboarding incorporating paperwork and admin into pre-boarding, People Ops can focus their attention on giving new hires a first day experience that fosters early alignment, engagement, and success.

Want to learn more about how to deliver a great Employee Onboarding experience to your new hires? Download Sapling’s Essential Guide To Employee Onboarding Success or schedule a demo below:


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Planning for Success: First Day Ideas for New Hires