The first day at a new job. We’ve all been there, but it’s easy to forget. So let’s practice a little radical empathy and put ourselves in our new hire’s penny loafers. What was that first day like? If you’re like me, you’ve probably repressed some memories of the event, so things are a bit fuzzy. But I’ll attempt to relive some of the horrors of a particularly bad first 8 hours in hopes it’ll help end awkward first days forever.
I showed up eager with a trapper keeper full of pencils and a head full of ideas. The interview process was rigorous and the position seemed challenging, but I was ready to live up to my resume. So it came as a surprise when my boss and the rest of the team seemed a little less than prepared for my arrival. They didn’t know who I was, why I was there, or what I needed to do, and I felt the same way.
Running a business is hard, and new hire onboarding can be hectic. I get it. But I was expecting a little more cushioning before I landed. We skipped right over the honeymoon period and dove straight into drudgery. Looking back after leaving, I ended up enjoying the job, but that first day left an impression that was hard to shake years later.
Here’s what my first day from hell looked like.
9:00 A Cold Welcome
As soon as I stepped foot through the door, I was greeted with pile of new hire forms. I spent the next hour or so filling out new employee paperwork. I couldn’t tell the difference between the coffee guy and the CEO.
10:00 A Disorienting Orientation
The modern office interior and hip ambiance belied an antiquated onboarding system. The dog-eared new hire packet they handed me looked like it was assembled by drunk iron workers. As an introduction to company culture, their new employee orientation materials were lacking. If I had to judge a company by the cover of their handbook, I would have voted them off the island.
10:30 Meet and Greet
After trudging through a confusing new hire checklist, I finally caught my boss’ attention and got a cursory introduction to the team (emphasis on cursory). Months later, I still didn’t know what Bob from down the hall did.
11:00 IT Troubles
When it came time to get a laptop and login credentials, no one in IT was expecting me. They didn’t seem thrilled to be taken away from their work to help the new guy. I just wanted a laptop. I just wanted to be friends.
12:00 Lunch, alone
Flashbacks to the school cafeteria. I didn't have anyone to sit with, so I ate alone. My coworkers forgot to invite me to Applebee's because they didn’t get the memo that I was arriving that day. My PB&J didn’t taste so sweet that day.
1:00 Stuck in paperwork hell, send help
Back from lunch, HR greeted me with a bunch of new employee tax forms. Hurray! More paperwork and isolation from my fellow workers. Who needs bonding time when you’ve got a new hire forms checklist a mile long?
2:00 Still no signs of life
I finally got a laptop and a desk, but I still didn’t know who was who. I was chomping at the bit to join the dynamic team I’d heard so much about, but I felt forgotten. I still couldn't even find the bathroom, and things were getting urgent. VERY URGENT. But that’s another story.
4:50 Get me home please
In the end, I got some work done. Barely. I packed up my things and left feeling less prepared than when I arrived. Walking to my car, I wondered, “Is this how it will always be?” and “Does Applebee’s have good lunch specials?” It would take a while to find the answer that, no, it won’t always be like this, and, yes, they do.
Things can be better
I hope my account serves a warning for HR managers. Your new hires are but precious babes. They need a little coddling, and that’s okay. New hire paperwork and all the intricacies of new hire onboarding are important, but they don’t have to be soul crushing, especially on your employee’s first day when everything looks so bright.
And now, with organizational tools like HR Cloud’s new hire software, there’s no excuse for rough starts. From employment paperwork, to new employee orientation, to scheduling first day lunches, HR Cloud irons things out so you can turn an awkward first day into an awesome one.