I’m still not sure about the chicken or the egg, but I do have some thoughts about which comes first when it comes to a new employee’s first day.

In my travels across the country presenting the topic of “Professional Onboarding” to CEO groups, there is often a spirited debate when I suggest some creative and potentially outlandish ideas to establish a unique first day experience for new hires.  What I’ve noticed after sharing the ideas with more than 100 CEOs is that people fall into two camps.

One group of business leaders are very much in favor of creating an amazing first day and going above and beyond to welcome new employees.  The other group is concerned about setting a precedent and creating unrealistic expectations on a new hire’s first day.

For members in the first group, they love the idea of rolling out the red carpet, complete with velvet roping to mark the special aisle so a new hire feels like a celebrity on their first day.  They share ideas of their own, including having a new hire run through a welcome banner like an excited football team or an athlete crossing the finish line.  They take notes when I share the concept of greeting new hires at the door with their favorite morning beverage (non-alcoholic, of course) in hand on day one  because it proves  that they paid attention and really listened during the interviewing process to learn this information.

For members in the second group, they worry that greeting the new hire at the door with a caramel macchiato sets an unrealistic expectation that there will be caramel macchiatos in the future.  They are concerned that day one will be over the top and the new hire will feel completely let down on day two when it’s time to get down to business.

Both sides are valid, so I did some research to find out what some of the “Fortune Top 100 Best Companies To Work For” did to welcome new hires on day one.  New Starbucks employees taste coffee all day when they start (hopefully some decaf too).  Wegman’s flies new store managers in a private jet to corporate headquarters to meet the CEO.  A Denver consulting company has their new hire go shopping with a professional image consultant on day one with a Visa card preloaded with money.  Disney’s mission on day one is to “capture the hearts” of new employees, and I am fairly certain they do not try to do this by sticking a newbie in a room to fill out 2 hours of paperwork.

The question is, how much money and effort are you willing and able to invest in a first day experience? What if the new hire doesn’t work out after you’ve spent money on the private jet, some new clothes or a caramel macchiato?  It’s true.  They may not work out and you will have lost some money.  But what if they stay?  How many years will they retell the story of their first day on the job and how amazing it was?  How many people will want to work for the company that treats new recruits so well?

While I understand the group that wants new hires to just get work, I also understand that the group that puts that extra effort into appreciating new hires will have a team of people who want to get to work.

Risk it.  Create an unforgettable first-day-on-the-job experience.  There are plenty of creative ways to accomplish the task that cost somewhere between the private jet and the caramel macchiato . . . of course the caramel macchiato on the private jet sounds good too.

Have fun with it, and let me know what your company does on day one.  I’ll share some creative ideas in a future article.


Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in onboarding top talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, onboarding and retaining top talent.

Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com.

 

 

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