Opening the heavy glass door and walking into work on the first day of your new job can be a frightening experience. Most everyone you see is a stranger. You don’t know how to navigate your way to your desk, you are unsure of the dress code, and you have a company culture and history to learn if you hope to fit and and do your job well.
It doesn’t need to be that way. Not only can we explore innovative ways to help make a new employee feel welcome at our company, but we can also use the occasion of a new person joining the team to re-emphasize team goals, bring new and seasoned employees alike up to date on current projects, and bring the entire team closer together.
Many companies have begun to adopt enterprise collaboration platforms like Yammer, Workplace or Slack. Enterprise collaboration software expands on the promise of email to make communication, sharing of resources and teamwork transparent, seamless, simple and robust.
Imagine you have been interviewing for a job. The recruiter calls to give you the good news. You got the job, your salary request has been met, and you start in two weeks. The recruiter says “Congratulations. You will get an email soon with all the information.”
Later that day, you hear the re-assuring “ding” from your computer, and rather than receiving an email just giving you the details of your job and what to expect the first day, you have received an invitation to join the company collaboration network. You fill out the requested information, add a recent, not too awkward picture of yourself, and activate your account.
Looking at the screen, you notice you are already in a few team discussion groups. You are in the “Staff Welcome” group. There is a nice message from your new boss announcing your hire to the rest of the staff and sharing some background information about your experience. People are already sharing messages of welcome. One person says that she went to the same college you did, and you are thrilled to see that an old friend of yours you haven’t talked to in years works at the company and has recognized your name. Scrolling through the group, there are similar posts about three other people starting the same week you are. You make a note to be sure to connect with them.
You are also added to the team discussion group for your department. You start to get to know the names your new colleagues, you scroll through the newsfeed and notice there is some pretty interesting work being done. One conversation in particular jumps out at you about a project you think you can contribute to on your first day. You review minutes from recent meetings, and start to get an idea about how you will fit into the team. You get the idea that maybe people are being a little “extra” generous in sharing information with you because they know you are new and need to learn. Whatever the reason, it seems new ideas are being discussed and new goals are being set. This is getting exciting!
You scroll through posts from other groups. You are delighted to see a “Local Cheap Eats” group where staff has recommended good places to eat near work. You see posts from other departments that share news of current projects and recent accomplishments. You see photos from throughout the company that let you know what the dress code is like, and how different people have arranged their desks.
Now your first day doesn’t seem so scary. You feel connected to people you didn’t feel connected to before. You know the dress expectations, you are up to speed on current projects and initiatives. You also know who you want to ask to lunch that first day and where you want to go.
Collaboration networks help us to work better, they help us to work smarter. If used thoughtfully and strategically, they can also help us create community in our workplace while we connect staff to current projects, people and culture.
So, welcome to your first day on the new job. Open the door and come on in…it’s not so scary!