By RedBalloon for Business

When it comes to starting at a new workplace, the company first impression is crucial.

Whether it’s a first date, introducing yourself to a crowd of industry leaders or simply connecting online with people who have similar interests, first impressions count. And in a workplace setting, it’s not just important for the new hire to get it right. In fact, as their leader, how you come across during the initial stages will affect – for better or worse – how they experience life in your company.

Here are four reasons why a great first impression is so important.

1. It sets the benchmark for their typical work environment

As soon as your new hire steps into the office – and even before that, if you conducted an on-site interview – they will start taking mental snapshots of their new working life. And while over the days and weeks to come those images will shift – with the ‘norm’ becoming more apparent – those first impressions are crucial for revealing what a typical day looks like.

If possible, don’t throw your new employee into the deep end straight away. Give them a taste of what a regular day is like, but also take the time to introduce them to their co-workers, get them acquainted with their workspace and answer any questions they may have about the role. Think of it as a ‘dry run’ – they will be more likely to ask questions when they know there’s a safety net.

2. It can determine whether they are in it for the long haul – or not

Staff turnover in the first 12 months of hiring costs Australian businesses almost $4 billion, with the average cost at 2.5 times the employee’s annual salary. So it pays to get your hiring right the first time.

But there are a few signals on day one that can reveal whether your new team member isn’t the fit you hoped they would be. Be careful about hearing any of these phrases from your new recruit:

  • “I can do everything.” While confidence is important for a new hire, it’s better for them to stick to what they do best – after all, that’s why you hired them in the first place! Additionally, telling everyone that they are jack-of-all-trades can send the message that they are better than their co-workers.
  • “I only take orders from the boss.” People who only get excited when talking to the company’s ‘influencers’ are unlikely to be team players. You want your employees to work together and help each other out without jumping through hoops.
  • “That’s not in my job description.” Sure, it’s unfair to ask your new receptionist to run the company’s IT systems, but when you make a hire there’s an expectation that they will be a team player. Someone who is unwilling to help out with odd jobs – especially at the beginning of their tenure – is a bad sign.

3. It reveals the company culture – and employee experience

Every new employee has a ‘honeymoon period’ where they really get to know how the business functions and their place within it. During this time, they will gain an understanding of the employee experience and the overall company culture.
You can help build a positive view of the company from day one. Consider addressing the following points with your new team member:

  • Company dress code: Is it smart business dress every day, or is your office more casual so long as everyone presents themselves appropriately? You might be surprised how important a new hire considers a company’s dress code.
  • Goal-setting: If your business has a rewards and recognition program, it’s worth getting your new hire across the system straight away. It can actually be a great way to foster camaraderie with their co-workers as they define their short and long-term goals.
  • Honesty and trust: Everyone makes mistakes – but for a new hire there’s nothing more intimidating than dropping the ball when they’ve just started. Sit down with your new employee and explain how making mistakes is part of business – but facing up to them and reaching out for help when they need it is what will set them up for ongoing success.

4. It can reveal new skills not shared in the interview process

It goes without saying that there’s a laundry list of statements a potential employee should never utter in their interview, but building a company culture that allows your team members to speak freely can be a healthy way to grow your business.

When employees are fearful of saying the wrong thing, they will often retreat into their shell and only do the tasks they are assigned. However, a proper welcome can reveal how open communication is at all levels of the company – from the CEO to management to the newest recruit.

This has a particularly useful benefit: when a new employee is comfortable sharing their aspirations, they will be more likely to put their hand up and try new things. Who knows? Your seemingly introverted new hire could be C-suite material – if they are given the tools to flourish.

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To find out more about how the RedBalloon for Business team can help you reward and recognise your people, contact us today.