In this episode, Josh explores the best practices a company should adhere to when onboarding a new employee.

[00:04] Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you the business leaders, HR professionals, and Company Culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

[00:17] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Before I get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcasting space. The topic of today is “Rolling out the Welcome Mat”. So, we are going to talk all about onboarding and making sure that you’re rolling out the welcome mat for your new employees. So, to get started we are going to review some kind of negatives and positives around how to roll out that welcome mat, and some experiences I have been through, some experiences I have seen. Some examples of rolling out the welcome mat.

[00:51] The first one, we are going to start off with a positive. The first example is when a new employee comes in at Epic Culture, we give them a $100 gift card to spend on their desk. So what we want them to do is take that $100, go figure out what kind of awesome tchotchkes that they want on their desk, you know, pins, styles of pin, mugs. We see all sorts of things. Laptop covers, keyboards, technology, et cetera. And we really want them to make their desk home. We want them to make it feel warm and welcome. And employees love this. And we got this idea many years ago back in my last company and from another friend and we see some commonalities around helping people kind of a pimp out their desk. Make it their own. So that $100 for their desk is one way that we roll out the welcome mat for our new employees.

[01:47] Now, a different way to do that, and I guess the opposite or kind of negative way, would be when a new employee shows up and they get that refurbished laptop that is five years old, that is pretty dated, and may or may not work very well. So we see this in a lot of larger companies often, places where they have thousands of laptops and the cost is high and everything is on like a five year or seven year rotation. I think that communicates a certain value to the employee. When you start at a new role and somebody hands you a laptop that, may or may not have been refurbished, may or may not have been refurbished in the best way it, looks like it has been used and maybe it is slower than the laptop that they are used to even at home. And so that is an example of, probably not rolling out the welcome mat in the best possible way that they could.

[02:43] Another thing that we saw, and this comes from our Company Culture Check video series that you can find on YouTube. We were interviewing Cory and the team over at Gimme. And Gimme, they do a pre-employment outing. So once you have gone through the majority of their interviewing process, they roll out the welcome mat by inviting you before you are even hired, while they are again, still figuring out if you are the best fit, they invite members or potential employees out to some sort of team outing. So, the example we use and he used in that video was that they invited them for maybe a karting event and they want to spend time with that employee, and make sure that everybody gets along, and make sure that they are the perfect culture fit. Now, that is a great example of rolling out the welcome mat, even pre-employment, because that culture fit for their organization matters so much that they are going to spend that time upfront to make sure that person is somebody that they want to be around for longer periods of time. And that is really hard to do in an interview session where you are sitting in a room, one on one or in a group interview. So, that outing really helps them.

[03:55] Now, the opposite side of that is another story for me where I went and worked for a Fortune 500 company, in the Security department, and in the IT and Information Security department, and I went up to the floor that I was going to be on, and I was directed to my desk. And what I received was an empty desk in a high wall cubicle area and I noticed that there was nobody around me. Nobody may be strong. There were two people around me, but the other departments were many, many rows of cubicles away. So the entire corner of the office made you feel like you were alone, because there was only two other people. The other two people were another person in the Information Security that was a colleague, and then the manager that I reported to, which was not there most of the time, and very mobile and going to different locations and working with management on various information security tests. So really the welcome mat and the feeling that I got in that organization was “Here, we are putting you alone in the corner with your department. And the majority of the rest of your department is actually at our headquarters in another location, but we need you to work from here.” So that is the opposite of taking somebody out and bringing them to an event or bringing them into an environment where their desk is part of the team. This is the “alone in the corner” version.

[05:26] So, to recap, rolling out the welcome mat. What we want to do is we want to help people, one, avoid the first day jitters. Certain people are going to have more anxiety than others about a new role. And so we want to make sure that we are rolling out the welcome mat and making them feel comfortable so that they do not have those first day jitters, and they feel extremely comfortable in the environment. The second part, as I mentioned, is creating a comfortable environment. So, when that new employee comes in, are they in an environment that is open and warm and welcoming and that they know that they are going to be productive in? One thing I like to highlight is it shows that the company is investing in the employee, in that strategy. It gives you totally different vibes based on those negative and positive experience that I shared, and it also exhibits how much they are investing in time and money, and retention of that employee. And then lastly, with rolling out the welcome mat, you get to establish a chemistry with your other coworkers. In the example of being in the corner of the office or the corner of an entire floor, mostly alone, that does not really set the tone to establish cross collaboration or great chemistry with other departments, or anything else. Whereas an environment that is open and welcoming and where you are sitting with other cross-functional teams, and you are getting introduced really as a warm welcome, and you are going to be able to establish that chemistry with those teams that you are going to be working with on an ongoing basis. In closing, what I would like you to think about is how you can convey employee value from day one, and how you can roll out the welcome mat.

[07:20] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1 or email at podcast@epicculture.co.