The world is much more social today than just a few years ago. Many people enjoy the phenomenon. Even if you don’t quite get the technology, you can’t argue that there are more social creatures in the workplace than recluses. So, transitioning to a more socially conscious environment will help you develop more meaningful relationships with your employees and, in turn, cultivate an innovative climate. It’s easy and inexpensive! A great example of this is how you welcome new employees. Imagine, the employee has just showed up for their fist day. Answering the following questions for them is a great step towards developing a meaningful relationship:
- Are they ready for me?
- Do I fit in here?
- Am I welcome here?
- Am I important?
- Should I settle-in and get comfortable here?
You’re not going to be ready if you don’t start before they arrive. So begin by having them complete a “certificate of birth” before they start. It will tell you much about the “newborn.” The list is not endless, but it is meaningful: Nickname or what they prefer to be called, hometown, schools attended, military experience, where they lived, spouse, kids, pets, hobbies, interests, travel, talents, clubs, favorite candy snack, important dates for them, few more… Ask an easy question… “Would you like your cell number to appear on your business card?” Feel free to download an example of one of our birth certificates (right) to help you get started!
Gather this info before the person starts and do something with it! For one, circulate the info to the people who will be working with the new person. In a small company, that’s everyone. In a giant company, it might just be a local office or department, but it shouldn’t be a secret. Also, before the new employee arrives, know where they are going to sit, their phone extension, have business cards printed, and get them a plastic engraved nameplate for their desk, door, wall, cube, locker, etc. It’s important that a “crib” be ready for any new arrival. So far, you’ll spent a few bucks on a plastic nameplate, a few bucks on 100 business cards, and you’ve already made progress toward a meaningful relationship.
Happy Birthday! On the day they start work, get the following things done.
- Buy a birthday cake for a noontime celebration.
- Gift wrap a corporate coffee mug, a company shirt, a company lanyard, a company hat (get these from marketing, they give them away for free at trade shows to people they don’t know).
- Send an e-gram to the people who have the new person’s info. Invite them to a celebration. Challenge them to find something on the person’s info that they have in common and ask them to introduce themselves at the party. It could be an important date that two people have in common, or a hobby, or a hometown, or school. You never know what a new person might have in common with another person they just met, but they are all good unintended consequences and help to lower anxiety for everyone.
- At noon, introduce the person as an important, new addition to the company and have them open the gifts (wrap the nameplate and business cards too).
The short-term benefits of your caring strategy:
- It answers the new person’s emotional and meaningful questions, AND
- Think about it; every person in the new person’s personal life knows that they are starting a new job with your company. So, the next time they see that person, one of the first questions will be: “How’s the new job?” You want the answer to be, “You won’t believe it! I have so much in common with so many people there. The company is amazing. I feel so welcomed and excited about making the move.” (Great branding/marketing on your part!)
In the long term, your caring strategy not only benefits the employee who feels important and welcomed from day one. The company also receives benefits in the form of lower attrition, more collaboration, and accelerated productivity. It’s a win/win with very little financial investment and an easy implementation as part of on-boarding.
What will all this cost to you? It costs less than a going away party. But, unlike a going away party, you are planting roots in the organization that will yield a number of benefits such as increasing employee engagement, lowering attrition and, ultimately, developing an innovative climate. You have taken one giant step toward a more caring organization and a more meaningful connection with and between your staff.
Note: This post is the first step in a blog series authored by Rite-Solutions co-founder Jim Lavoie about Simple Steps to Creating an Innovative Climate in Your Organization. The preceding post in the series They’re Ready, Are You? stresses the importance of leaders being committed to cultivating the collective genius of their organization. The next post Your Second Step Toward Meaningfulness: Trust is about encouraging employees to engage through trust.