It can really help your new starter to see a plan for their first few weeks of onboarding which helps them to understand what has been set up for them and gives them ideas for what else they can set up for themselves.  As well as planning some meetings and activities in advance build in time for you to talk with them regularly in the first few weeks.

If your starter is a career changer and or returner who has had a career break they may feel a different degree of anxiety about their re-introduction to the workplace. They may be anticipating a high amount of change, feel uncertain about where they will fit, unsure of where they should prioritise and overwhelmed by the practicalities of blending work and homelife, particularly regarding hybrid working.

This list will give you some ideas and points to consider:

First Week

  • Welcome the employee, make sure they know they know they have your support. Be careful not to assume you know how they feel and what they want. The first few weeks need to be about familiarization, learning the basics and building a network.
  • Have a new joiner pack ready and any materials that will support them to understand the organisation, department and roles and responsibilities.
  • Agree objectives for the first few weeks and start to discuss goals. Agree some appropriate tasks or responsibilities they can pick up immediately as having tangible goals straight away helps re-validate their contribution and confidence.
  • Run through the objectives of the function or department and point them in the direction of the appropriate people if they need detailed updates on specific areas.
  • Check you are both clear on working patterns and remember that your new starter might be bedding in new patterns at home too. Discuss contingencies for work and home for unplanned events or pressure points and encourage autonomy and personal control.
  • Establish a regular meeting plan for you both during the first few months to review how their new role is going. You may want to start by having frequent catch ups in these early days.
  • Make sure they are aware of the support system for them i.e. buddy, coaching and development opportunities
  • Get to know them and be curious about the previous experience and perspective they are bringing. Encourage them to note down any useful insights they have on the processes/approaches in place and to share their fresh perspectives.

First Month

  • Hold regular meetings to discuss how their role is progressing. Research suggests increased feedback in the first 3 months helps re-validation, so talk about their performance and boost their confidence.
  • Often new starters are very aware of what they have to learn and some can loose sight of their unique strengths or perspectives they can bring to the role and/or team. Help them to focus on what strengths you see them bringing to the role and help them to see how they can do more of this.
  • Check in with them regarding workload. If they are joining a particularly busy team it can be easy to forget that they are still settling things at home. At the same time, don’t be too sensitive to overburden them as some individuals interpret this as a lack of confidence in their professional capabilities. Help them to focus their time on the things that count and not the minutiae.
  • If they are a parent, recognise the practical and emotional challenges of balancing family and work in the early days. Just understanding can be helpful, they may not need you to actually do anything.
  • Check in with the rest of the team how things are working and any adjustments that need to be make.
  • When you feel the time is right, firm up longer-term goals and objectives with their input now that they can see with fresh eyes the challenges and opportunities for their area. Goals shouldn’t be easy but they do need to be reasonable.