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Make New Hires Love your Company from Day 1

New Hires

Getting ready for a new hire can be a lot of work. Depending on your team, all of the prep may fall on you. If that’s the case, you know there’s so much more behind getting a new person settled in and ramped up than buying a new Mac and picking a desk. It takes thoughtful planning and consideration to truly integrate a new employee into your company’s office, culture, and work life.

If you’re stuck in a rut (same routine, same welcome breakfast, same speeches, etc.), now is the time to mix it up. Shake the mothballs off your onboarding program and take your new hires experience to the next level with these ideas below.

Kick Off Time

Photo Credit: Percolate

First impressions are the ones that last, and this is a pivotal moment in setting the tone for your new hire’s onboarding experience. But, if a new hire’s first impression happens first thing in the morning, it will conflict with your own daily routine (checking emails, scrambling around the office, putting out fires). In order to give your new hire the attention and time they deserve, why not push their start time? One of my favorite pieces of advice on new hires comes from Carly Guthrie’s First Round interview (a must read for anyone who handles onboarding): Don’t ask your new hire come in at 9 A.M. Tell them to come in a bit later so you can get through the morning madness and greet them with your full, undivided attention.

Bring Your Culture to Them

You can teach a new hire all about processes, programs and people, but the one thing that most companies struggle with is how to integrate new hires into their culture. If you have been with your company a while it may feel strange to lay out your culture in a format for outsiders to understand, but doing so is really important.

Culture Board
Photo Credit: Tradeshift

At my last company, the easiest way for us to give newbies an idea of who we were was to review our “House Rules.” They were rules written by the team and each offices had their own. The rules went beyond the usual “be nice” and “clean up after yourself,” and listed fun mottos that were unique to us like “Always Kick Ass” and “Friday Means Beer Time.” We hung them in our entrance and stamped them inside notebooks so that every new hire was surrounded by our culture. It was a constant reminder of what we stood for and what made us quirky and unique.

Give Something to Write Home About       

Your new hire expects to get a certain amount of swag during their first week. A shirt, a bag, stickers or a water bottle—all things we have too many of and never use. Instead of giving them more stuff that will end up in a junk drawer, give your new hire something useful and memorable.

Khan Academy Booklet
Photo Credit: Khan Academy

At Khan Academy we have a great tradition called Khanniversaries: on your work anniversary, you’re asked to give a gift back to the company. One of my teammates, David Hu, recently made these amazing books filled with our teams’ perspectives on work, life, happiness, and everything in between (read more on his blog here). Although these were intended as a one time gift, they have become a big part of our new hire onboarding. It’s the perfect gift to give on the last day of their first week as a way to say “Welcome to the Club!” This book not only represents the completion of their initial onboarding, but it gives new hires a glimpse inside our team’s hearts and minds and excites them for the adventure they have ahead.

No matter what you decide to do for your new hire, the most important thing to remember is to be true to your company. Take time to pick out the quirks that make your company special and turn them into something fun for new employees. Don’t let your onboarding program become a routine; turn it into an experience that your new hires will never forget!

So what do you do that’s special for new hires? Any new ideas you’re looking to try out? Share with us in the comment section below!



  1. I LOVE this. More than half of my team works off site and getting everyone together on a regular basis just isn’t cost effective. I started to the simple task of sending one month anniversary cards and birthday cards to those off site and the tiny little task has been greatly received. I always make sure that there is a hand written note from our two Principals so the new employee knows that they haven’t been shipped off and forgotten. Every single person I have sent a card to has emailed us back saying thank you and they really feel like they are part of the team.

      1. That’s a fantastic idea- love it Janine!
        It can be so easy to forget to include remote employees, but I find even the smallest gestures are often more appreciate than the things we do every day in office for our team haha :)

  2. Karina, thank you for this useful post, and for answering my email about it :)
    As you suggested, I’m leaving a comment to say thanks and share the post you inspired us to write:

    How to Stop Losing Money on Employee Turnover by Improving Your Onboarding Process

    Continue doing great things like the ever inspiring Khan Academy

    1. Thanks for sharing Daria. Glad to see that the article inspired your team to write a guide of your own!

  3. Great idea Anne! I love that they are wrapped in positive quotes- a great way to keep a new hire feeling pumped. Also the welcome balloon is really fun too :)

  4. In addition to the logo swag and welcome balloon, we give new hires a box of Good Karmals. Not only delicious but wrapped with positive quotes. Additional bonus, the wrappers happen to be our brand colors!

    1. Anne, have you looked into using someone like Starter Swag to manage the on boarding swag boxes? It’s so time consuming to do on your own, I couldn’t stand it anymore!

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