A new employee’s first day can be a daunting experience for many reasons: pride in a new role, meeting new coworkers, and learning the ins and outs of their position are enough to overwhelm even the steadiest among us. As forward-thinking companies everywhere endeavor to maximize employee engagement, too many overlook the stresses that accompany the onboarding process. By making an effort to acknowledge and assuage the unique circumstances of employees’ first day at work, empathetic organizations can better help their hires feel relaxed, welcomed, and appreciated from Day One. And with a thoughtful selection of welcome gifts, your company can do just that.
Onboarding gifts for new hires can help to familiarize team members with your organization, as well. While your hiring process may outline the particulars of their day-to-day work, your new employees are still at a disadvantage when it comes to starting out in an unfamiliar office. Learning to fit into a new social structure, however professional it may be, can feel a lot like one’s first day at school. Becoming accustomed to the workplace culture you’ve put so much effort into cultivating is crucial to their successful integration, but difficult to do until employees have spent an extended amount of time there. Think of your onboarding gifts as a pleasant crash course in your workplace vibe.
Unexpected gifts are the best kind, and well-thought-out ones can go a long way towards making your new team members feel welcome. Rather than a way of “buying” a new employee’s motivation (though it certainly doesn’t hurt!), new hire gifts are a great way to show you care about their experience while introducing your company in a fun, generous way.
Given that your goal is to communicate your culture while making new employees feel welcome, it’s important to take care when choosing gifts. Here are a few of our favorites, along with some tips for helping you to select some classics.
Choosing the right welcome gifts for new hires:
“The gift was not large as money goes, and my need was not great, but the spirit of the gift is beyond price and leaves me blessed and in debt.” ― Robert Fulghum
Involve their new coworkers.
New employees don’t know it yet, but their first day is an integral part of your company’s success story. Ask your staff for volunteers to help contribute to new hire onboardings in a creative way. Interested team members will feel connected to the onboarding process (while perhaps earning a gift of their own), and you’ll have a dedicated group of employees helping you to come up with unique gift ideas. This is also a great time to learn about how your existing employees see your organization. For instance, depending on how casual they feel the office vibe is, you could choose to gift new hires with a branded polo, t-shirt, button-down, or even a tank top or pajamas.
You’re all characters in this story, so encourage everyone to have fun thinking of welcome gifts that convey your plot to new employees. Receiving a gift that took teamwork to come up with will go a long way towards making them feel appreciated, and it can serve as an icebreaker when they meet their new coworkers.
Gifts personalized with your company’s logo aren’t just an excellent way to help new hires feel welcome. Employees are often most excited about their new organization when things are fresh, so this is an excellent time to invite them to be active brand ambassadors. Take some care in selecting your swag, however: while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with ordering a couple of hundred oversized white t-shirts emblazoned with your logo, we’re suggesting this area of gift-giving with the assumption that you’re not just looking to advertise in your employees’ gyms and bedrooms. This too is a great opportunity to ask your existing employees for their input.
The goal here is to order attractive, useful merchandise. By giving employees branded items they will actually use, and clothing they won’t feel awkward wearing on Instagram, you’ll be creating welcome gifts that new employees will feel pride in showing off and increasing your company’s visibility.
Integrate the gifts with your core values
If you haven’t yet articulated your company’s core values, you can learn more about how to get started here: Employee Engagement Begins with your Company’s Core Values. Those of you who’ve taken this important step in establishing your company’s culture already know how helpful it can be in starting new hires off on the right foot. By communicating core values effectively, organizations can help ensure that, from their first day forward, new hires will strive to embody these important messages. With that in mind, consider your core values when selecting gifts for new hires.
Branded items can be decorated with the text of the values themselves, for instance, while more elaborate gifts might be presented with an explanation of the values they represent. Creating these memories is just one more way to imbue new hires’ onboarding experience with the lessons you want them to carry into their future with your company.
“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its
value.” ― Charles Dudley Warner
Shop like you mean it
We hesitate to say this so bluntly, but whether you’re spending time or money developing your welcome gifts for new employees, it’s important that your organization doesn’t appear cheap. But don’t panic! There are onboarding gifts that can fit easily into every company’s HR budget. By going all-in on thoughtfulness, you can rest assured that gifts that you took care and consideration in selecting will be just as effective at showing new employees that they’re appreciated as fancy tech or baubles. If possible, think back to your new employee’s CV and interview process and select a gift that speaks to each employee personally. If this proves difficult, creative gifts like those in our suggestions below can help new hires express their individuality in their new workplace.
Some creative ideas to get you started
Introduce a little organization
A new desk can be a cold, empty place. Unless you’ve invested in an intensive onboarding program, most new hires begin their first day with a trip around the office to meet coworkers, an explanation of how to work the printer, and a cup of coffee as they begin reading their orientation materials. Why not help them feel a little more at home in their new surroundings by giving them a gift that helps them make their new desk their own? Presented this way, a box filled with a selection of push pins, highlighters, pens, markers, and notecards is not supply closet filler, but an invitation to decorate their workspace so it feels like their own.
Make their first day picture perfect
A good orientation process is full of memorable moments. Consider handing employees a fun way to capture them: Polaroid instant cameras are great for showing employees how laid-back your office can be and affordable enough to fit even limited onboarding budgets. The cameras are easy to use, and their attractive photos are a great addition to the walls of any cubicle. They also give employees something to do with all those push pins in your welcome box!
Show your civic pride.
In an unfamiliar workplace and zip code, out-of-town hires are at a particular disadvantage when it comes to onboarding. Show them you care and get them excited about their new home with some local goodies. Coupons and gift cards for neighborhood restaurants and services will help them get started, while a guidebook will introduce employees to the must-see parts of your city. Complete the ensemble with snacks from your area’s best bakery, a branded travel mug and a t-shirt from the tourism office.
Whatever you choose, remember two things: it’s the thought that counts, and you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Take the time to enjoy the process of selecting your onboarding gifts, and take pride in welcoming your new employees to their new home away from home.