Onboarding can be a stressful process for anyone. This is especially true when employees are joining a workplace that seems chaotic, stressful, or closed off.
Cliques, existing conflict, and office tensions can all make it much harder for new employees to integrate themselves into a workplace — reducing productivity and harming team cohesion.
Some improvements to work culture and environment can make it much easier to bring on new employees. With the right changes, business leaders can foster a strong work environment that makes everyone’s first day much less stressful.
1. Check In Regularly
You may not be able to anticipate every concern a new hire will have. Regular check-ins help you ensure that you know about these unforeseen issues.
One-on-one check-ins or group check-ins can both help you identify problems with the onboarding process or workplace culture. Even stopping by an employee’s desk or shooting off a quick email can be a great way to see how new hires are feeling.
Even if you discover no problems, these check-ins can be a serious morale and productivity booster. According to one EY study, 39% of American workers say they “feel the greatest sense of belonging at work” when colleagues check in with them.
A visit can do a lot to make new employees feel like they’re part of the team.
2. Consider Office Comfort
Sometimes, the physical office environment can have a serious impact on how welcoming a workplace is. Every employee may be influenced by things like temperature, humidity, and lighting. If an office space is uncomfortable or unpleasant to work in, it can easily contribute to a more hostile work environment.
Simple upgrades can help you do more with less — and even save some money on lighting and office environmental control. LEDs, for example, are brighter than conventional bulbs and use less energy. A smart thermostat can dynamically adjust office temperature throughout the day, improving comfort without increasing the amount you spend on heating and cooling. Similarly, an office space having comprehensive security measures such as smart intercom technology and commercial door security locks can ensure employees feel safe and secure while at their place of work.
Small changes like these made to the physical office environment can make it much more inviting than a workplace that is too dim, too hot or otherwise unpleasant to be in.
3. Don’t Leave Remote Workers Behind
Without the right precautions, workers who don’t come into the office regularly may feel disconnected from those who do.
In general, remote hires tend to be disappointed with WFH onboarding. One report found that new workers who were onboarded over the internet were sometimes confused about what work they needed to do and felt “less connection to the [hiring] organization and its culture.”
Hybrid workspaces will face some challenges that they’ll need to overcome to ensure that both office and remote hires can successfully adapt to their new job.
Regular communication on performance expectations, feedback from supervisors, and events that encourage conversations between the office and remote staff will help WFH team members to feel more integrated into office culture. It will also help them better understand the role they play at work, including what responsibilities they have and who they should turn to when they need help.
4. Offer Opportunities for Team-Building and Socializing
Existing employees already know where they fit into the business. Newer employees won’t — and if the office culture is stable, they may find it hard to connect with other workers.
Team-building exercises that involve both new and existing employees can help to shake up these dynamics, making it easier for new employees to develop rapport with others in the office.
Team events can help in a similar way. Events can encourage new and existing team members to socialize with each other, helping to break down communication barriers in the same way.
Taking steps to integrate new workers into the office culture will help ensure that they don’t feel alienated by existing relationships and teams.
5. Encourage Communication
Communication breakdowns are a common cause of office strife. If office communication is regularly troubled, these breakdowns can easily create a tense and unwelcoming workplace atmosphere.
Making communication as easy as possible can help keep everyone in the loop. Email, meetings, chat tools like Slack, and file sharing systems can all ensure employees are communicating with each other.
Taking steps to keep remote workers in touch with office workers can also help. Streaming office meetings and ensuring remote workers are in the office chat, for example, will reduce the chance that your remote team gets left out of important discussions.
6. Create Opportunities for Career Development
Every employee will want a chance to develop their skills.
Opportunities for career development — like training, skillshares and regular stipends for professional development — will help employees to strengthen the talents they already have and pick up new skills.
These training opportunities could help to improve employee engagement, boosting retention. They’re also likely to streamline day-to-day work overtime — employees with wide skill sets and deep industry knowledge will be better equipped to handle all the challenges that may come their way.
Effective training should cover both hard and soft skills. This will help employees both develop better technical abilities and become stronger communicators and team players.
Creating the Best Work Environment for New Workers
New workers may have a hard time adapting to their role if they’re in an unwelcoming work environment. Remote workers may have an especially hard time — distance and lack of access to office culture can make it much harder to understand where you fit into a new role.
Simple changes to office workflows and culture can help new hires adjust more easily. Check-ins, office comfort, effective communication channels, and measures that help remote workers integrate with the overall business culture will all ensure that workers won’t be put off by existing office culture.
About the authorEleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.