First Impressions: Meaningful Onboarding to Foster Belonging & Pride from The Outset

Valentina Lwin-Bailey


First Impressions matter! Most good organisations attempt to create positive first impressions when welcoming new employees, but fewer have integrated onboarding processes that truly create strong connection between the employee and the organisation right from the beginning. Such onboarding processes provide valuable opportunity for the organisation to demonstrate its true workplace culture. 

GPTW Trust Index survey data across Australian medium sized companies shows that employees who are made to fell welcomed also feel better connected to the organisation, have a strong sense of belonging and are proud of their workplace.  


Source: Great Place To Work Australia Trust Index Survey Data, 2022. 


Meaningful integrated onboarding processes don’t have to be complex or resource intensive. Here are a few easy tips on enhancing onboarding processes to create memorable positive experience for your employees. 


1.  Have a Check List for Consistent Onboarding  

Great organisations recognise that onboarding process commences long before new employee’s first day. Hiring Manager, HR and other functions need to be well coordinated to enable the new joiner to get through essential preparations in a timely manner to facilitate prompt connection with the organisation. A comprehensive check list with pre-start, day 1, week 1, and first-month tasks, as well as timeline on when the critical items should be completed, not only supports busy hiring managers through the process, but also makes sure the process is consistent throughout the organisation. 


2. Include leaders when onboarding new joiners 

Mission and Vision statements on glossy posters and computer wallpapers will offer some information about the new employer, but hearing from the leaders on why and how the organisation is trying to achieve its Mission provides depth and meaning to organisation’s purpose. New joiners can also appreciate the opportunity to meet and converse with the leaders to get a feel of the workplace culture where management is accessible, approachable, and easy to talk with. 


 3. Enlist other employees

Hearing directly from fellow employees on how they’ve experienced their employer across different facets, such as in work and performance expectations, management ethos, employee wellbeing, L&D and career growth adds credibility and clarifies expectations – what a new joiner can expect and what is expected of them in return.  

These longer serving employees can act as “Onboarding Buddy” or “Go-To Person” to help the new joiner navigate through systems, norms and unofficial practices that make up the organisation’s culture. They also provide social support that reinforces psychological safety in a new unfamiliar environment. 


 4. Get to know the whole person 

 A genuine welcome means getting to know the new joiner beyond their job skills and experience – acknowledging their life beyond work. Informal team gathering on the first day (i.e. morning/afternoon tea or team lunch) can be a forum to chat about cultural heritage, family, hobbies and hidden talents to help build bonds with new team members. These initial conversations can lead to the new employee offering their unique lived experience for the betterment of the business through involvement in Employee Resource Groups (ERG), volunteering programs or CSR projects. 


 5. Keep an eye on new joiner experience 

Just as monitoring is important in assessing work performance, it is important to keep an eye on new joiners’ experience. Some great organisations make it a priority to gather formal feedback from their newest employees about their first few months via onboarding surveys. Whether it is through formal or informal channels, such insights are necessary to determine efficacy of onboarding efforts and to refine the processes accordingly. 

These simple steps can contribute greatly to a new employee’s positive first impressions of the new workplace making them more engaged and fulfilled employees. 


Want to tell the world that your company has a great workplace culture? Find out how you can earn Great Place To Work Certification™️ below.


Valentina Lwin-Bailey