Roll out the red carpet! Welcome gifts for new hires are trending as a way to help employees feel appreciated from day one.
“First days are tough. You haven’t made ‘work friends’ yet so you feel alone, you don’t know the company culture or jargon yet so you feel confused, and you are quite literally lost (‘Where’s the coffee and bathroom?),” writes Forbes contributor and employee engagement expert Kevin Kruse in his article, “1 Thing Every New Hire Should Get On Their First Day.”
Welcome gifts — accompanied by a nice introduction letter, as Kruse suggests — are essential to effective onboarding and making a good first impression. They send the message right away that new hires are welcome, needed and appreciated.
Summer hires count, too! Start them right with a small gift that says “Thank you for joining us.” Read on for tips and best practices for sharing new hire welcome gifts.
Why New Hires Feel Unwelcome
The trend of welcome gifts and more robust first-day onboarding is driven by company leaders who remember what their first days felt like. Now that they’re in charge, they want to change the status quo.
Birchbox cofounders Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp “had experiences in previous jobs where the lack of formal ‘onboarding’ made for very awkward first days,” according to the New York Times’ small business advice blog “You’re the Boss.”
“Lots of moving pencils around on the desk” is how the cofounders remember their previous first days on the job.
“As a result of those experiences, they made a commitment to make onboarding a strength at Birchbox,” writes the Times’ Bryan Burkhart.
An all-too-common mistake companies make with new hires is not being prepared for their arrival, according to Burkhart.
When new employees started in the early days at online eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker, “they didn’t have a computer, and they were just thrown into the fire.” Over time, the company’s cofounders became more thoughtful about the onboarding process.
First days at Warby Parker are much different now. New hires receive a welcome packet at their desk that includes items important to company history:
- A copy of Jack Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums” (because the company was named after Kerouac characters)
- An army supply notebook to take notes as the new employee learns about the company
- Gift certificates for a free eye exam, glasses for themselves and another pair to give as a gift
- Martin’s Pretzels because the four founders always ate them while they were starting the company
- A gift certificate to a Thai restaurant because, when the company was getting started in Philadelphia, the only place that was open late at night was a Thai restaurant
In addition, Birchbox prepares a new employee’s desk with a computer, candy bowl and a handmade welcome flag with the message “Hi. I’m new. Come say hi!”
3 Best Practices for Sharing New Hire Welcome Gifts
Ease the stress of first-day jitters with these best practices for sharing welcome gifts with new hires:
1. Share welcome gifts that reflect your company culture
A welcome gift is “even better when it reflects your company culture,” according to the Visual News article “4 Clever Ways to Welcome Your New Employees Like a Boss.”
Energy data company Opower gives new hires a bottle of champagne — not to drink immediately, but to save and pop when the company hits a major goal, such as reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. by 1 percent. It’s a simple gesture, but it brings employees into the company’s goal-oriented culture right away.
2. Include a personalized note
A gift without a note of gratitude won’t have the same impact. Employee engagement expert Kevin Kruse recommends giving newbies welcome letters “actually signed by the CEO, or by the person’s manager, or even better, by every person in the department.”
“Make sure it’s the right note. To make it effective, make it personal and focused on organizational values,” he writes for Forbes.
3. Make gift-giving part of a social occasion
Not knowing any of your coworkers is one of the most intimidating aspects of the first day on a job. It can be isolating, even alienating. Make a point of sharing your welcome gifts for new hires as part of a workplace social occasion that includes everyone on the team.
“There’s no replacement for one-on-one face time with fellow employees or higher-ups,” writes Visual News’ Katy French. It can be as simple as a team lunch out on the company dime, a welcome cake in the break room, or get-to-know-you games at the start of weekly meeting.
Welcome Gifts Have Lasting Impact
By making new hires feel welcome from their first day, you’re ensuring better employee retention in the long run. Sharing first-day welcome gifts sets the tone and lays the groundwork for a culture of gratitude — and it’s vital to keep it going!
For practical tips on sharing and promoting gratitude every day of the year in your workplace, download our free eBook “Transform Your Workplace With Gratitude.” You’ll find advice here on recruiting and retaining a great workforce, engaging employees and building a sustainable, everyday culture of appreciation.
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