Handling the First Day at a New Job

A Quick Guide to Removing the Anxiety that Comes with Starting a New Job

First Day on the Job

Comic courtesy of Dale Anderson

As the summer draws to an end and we start sending our kids off to school again, it’s easy to remember what it was like when we were that age. 

The excitement of the first day of the year always brought a few jitters and butterflies along with it. Will everyone still like me? Who are my new teachers? Can I sit with my friends at lunch? Those first few days can strike fear in the hearts of even the most popular students until at last a comfortable routine is established.

I faced that fear more than most having moved in the middle of a school year several times. In fact, I attended eight different schools in three separate states before graduating high school (and, no, we weren’t in the Witness Protection Program!). Facing new surroundings and new faces is daunting to anyone…especially a kid…but it isn’t long until we find ourselves in a similar situation as adults.

Welcome to the first day at your new job.

Suddenly we’ve reached adulthood and the same apprehension creeps up in a new way… the first day at our new job! While everyone wants to grow and be exposed to new challenges, it’s still a little scary walking into a new company where you don’t know anyone and aren’t exactly sure of the expectations everyone has of you.

The good news is, both the company and the new hire can be doing things to make the situation a little less intimidating.

As our company’s Human Resources Manager, I recently re-vamped our on-boarding process to take some of the sting out of this process. Face it… not only are the new hires nervous, but so are the existing employees – wondering who the new person is and how they’ll fit into the organization. For that reason, we’ve put a few things in place to help both sides get comfortable more quickly.

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

It all starts with a genuine welcome. As soon as a candidate accepts the position, our team goes into overdrive to let the new hire know that we’re aware of their arrival and excited they are coming on board.

Our On-Boarding Program for New Hires:

  1. Our CEO sends a detailed welcome note. It describes our management team, management style, members of the new hire’s immediate team (including their titles), and company initiatives/objectives. It also mentions our mentoring program (more on that in a minute) and lets the new hire know the name of the mentor that’s been assigned to them.
  2. The new hire’s manager sends an email welcoming him/her to the team. This note mentions that members of the new hire’s department will take them to lunch on the first day, which allows co-workers to interact in a casual setting.  It also lets us show off the new neighborhood!
  3. I send a detailed agenda for the new hire’s first day. We work hard to make sure the management team is available, and we specifically schedule time for our President to give the new hire a tour of the building and introduce our team members. Some time is also set aside to meet with their department and fill out HR paperwork. Lastly, a coffee break with the assigned mentor is scheduled to allow for a low-key introductory meeting.
  4. I make sure to remind our team of the new hire’s name and start date, so everyone is well aware that a new face will be roaming the halls.

Mentoring a New Hire

Each new hire is assigned a mentor outside of their department. This person will be available to the new hire for advice, help with navigating the company and understanding our culture, etc.

It is also a great way to forge relationships outside of their assigned department – which is hard to make time for when you’re “heads down” learning your new responsibilities.

Orientation Meetings for a New Hire

During the new hire’s second week, we schedule a daily meeting that allows the new hire to rotate through each department. This gives them a better understanding of what each department does, and the roles/responsibilities of the people within the department. It also is a great way to get the whole office to meet the new hire in an informal setting and break the ice with their new co-worker.

These are just a few of the ways we try to help our new employees feel comfortable and avoid those “first day jitters”. As their time here lengthens and they’re exposed to our monthly breakfasts, quarterly Town Halls, and poker chip incentive program, they begin to have a fuller picture of what makes working here feel inclusive and a lot of fun!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share some great tips on how your company greets new hires!

2013-08-21T15:01:27+00:00 August 21st, 2013|


  1. Lynn Milner August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    I hadn’t thought of comparing the first day of new job to how it felt to be the new kid at school but it is an excellent comparison. Your plan for making the new hire feel welcome and helping them acclimate to their new surroundings is extensive and admirable. I believe the key to all good relationships is good communication and it is vital at work where we all spend so much of our time. Thank you for the tips. Keep them coming please!

  2. […] up to my first day on the job,  I was greeted with the genuine welcome Stephanie outlines in her earlier blog on starting a new job. Eight months since that posting, it was still followed to the t. My assigned mentor is the other […]

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