In a tight labor market, finding and keeping quality team members can be a big challenge for organizations large and small. Research completed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Globeforce last year showed that “Over the last five years, retention/turnover has climbed to the top of the list of workforce management challenges cited by HR”. That issue has nearly doubled as a concern in the past 5 years, from 25% in 2012 to 47% in the 2018 study.
Closely tied to turnover is the task of onboarding and welcoming new team members. Although integrating a new employee into the company may seem as simple as following a checklist, a recent article from the Harvard Business Review stated that it is in fact, “amongst the toughest types of job transitions”. The article goes on to note that if not done properly, onboarding can be one of the biggest influencers for quick turnover. But, how drastically does a poor onboarding process really affect the bottom line? In an interview earlier this year, Christian Harpelund, an onboarding consultant, noted that “The cost of losing a new employee within the first 12 month equals 2 years of salary”. He added, “Companies who work with a professional approach [to onboarding] will get faster time-to-performance, increase retention rates, get higher employee engagement, reduce stress and sick days, and build a better Employer Brand and Reputation.” That’s pretty drastic.
Working in our industry for the past 20 years, we’ve seen companies of all sizes incorporate new hire welcome kits into their onboarding process as a way to get new staff started on the right foot. Not only can new hire packets be used to share important paperwork and information about the company, they can utilize branded swag to provide practical tools and offer a fun glimpse into the company culture. If you’re looking for fresh ideas or you’ve been tasked with developing your company’s first new employee welcome kit, we’ve put together some general guidelines and suggestions for you.
Four General Guidelines for New Hire Welcome Kits
1. There’s No Formula
Although we see some consistent trends in items our clients choose for their new hire welcome kits, there’s no tried-and-true formula for creating one. It really depends on your culture and your newcomer’s needs. Some companies provide just a few branded necessities in high-end packaging. Some change up their kit’s components, depending on the season or employee’s position within the organization. Some go all-out offering practical items, apparel, gift cards to nearby coffee shops, and more. Organizations who see the most success build kits that are unique to them and the needs of their new teammates.
2. Offer Helpful Content
On their first day, no one wants to feel like an annoyance by peppering their new counterparts with basic questions about “where to find this” or “how to get that.” A welcome kit provides an easy method for sharing information a new team member needs to get started right away. You may want to consider including a list of FAQs, login information, a company org chart, parking instructions, or a map of the office to help them find bathrooms, conference rooms, etc. Some companies also include a list of items employees should complete or a printed schedule of their first week to help them be productive out of the gates and understand where they fit right away. No matter what you choose to include, make sure your communication is clear, easy to understand, and welcoming.
3. Choose Quality Giveaways
When selecting branded welcome gifts for your kit, make sure to include pieces that employees want and will be proud to use. Simply put, your time and investment are pointless if team members don’t use the items you welcome them with. Choosing quality swag shows that you have put thought into your welcome kit and helps new employees feel like part of the team faster. It also shows off your brand in a positive light when they use your branded swag in public. A blog post from Element Three, a well respected marketing agency who specializes in employer branding, notes, “And one way to get the word out—positively—is through your employer branding. If your employees are hitting the town in your company swag, they’re essentially a walking billboard for your brand. And your reputation will grow”.
4. Make It Thoughtful
As the job market becomes more and more competitive, sometimes it’s the personal touch that can solidify an employee’s tie to their new org. Making a new hire packet thoughtful doesn’t have to be as labor intensive as it may sound. It could be as simple as including a book that the hiring manager or company president finds valuable. It could even be a handwritten welcome note or a personalized piece of swag made just for them.
Five Quality Swag Suggestions
You may be wondering: “Choosing ‘thoughtful, quality swag items’ is a nice idea, but what does that really mean and how can I do this without breaking the bank?” or “With thousands upon thousands of items to choose from, how do I know the kind of swag that will delight our new employees?” or “How many pieces should I include in our welcome kit?” In our experience, we’ve seen a few basics that are consistently used in welcome kits across different industries. A good first step might be to choose practical items you know that your new employees will need, then one ‘fun’ item that reflects your company culture (think something unexpected, like a slinky, bobble head, or socks). Many welcome kits we’ve helped create, store, and distribute for our clients have included two or more of the following things.
The items listed below have been researched, tested, and will offer excellent quality for your investment.
One of the most common items to include in a welcome kit is a water bottle, mug, or tumbler. Oftentimes, on the first day employees don’t think to bring their own drink holder, making a company branded one a timely surprise. At a friendly price point, around $11, we think the Perfect Temp Grip Vacuum Tumbler is the way to go. Not only does it offer warm or cold insulation to fit your new teammate’s drink preference, its friendly shape is comfortable to hold, and its wide mouth makes it a cinch to clean or fill with ice.
Branded pens or pencils are a no-brainer when it comes to employee welcome kits. They’re a handy, practical item that will be used almost immediately by your newbie. We like the Tres-Chic Softy pen because it offers a ton of imprint methods and barrel colors to best match your brand. Plus, its soft-touch, rubberized coating will protect your new team member’s paws during those long, busy, note taking sessions in their first few weeks.
Custom journals are another practical option to consider. With so many things to remember during the onboarding period, a branded journal offers a new team member one single location to keep track of all their orientation-related notes. Our #1 choice in this category is the eco-friendly ApPeel Recycled Apple Journal – it really is made from apples! This creatively sustainable journal offers functionality with a pen holder and a document holder, as well as style with beautiful colors to compliment your brand and a soft, leather-feeling cover.
To increase the feeling of being part of the team, companies frequently choose a tee shirt or branded hoodie for new employees. We’re big fans of the Monroe Short-Sleeve Pocket Tee (available in men’s and ladies’!). Not only does this oh-so soft tee show that your company keeps tabs on current style trends, it also offers tons of decoration options and colors to compliment your logo.
Particularly on the first day, new staff may end up with an armful of miscellaneous items and paperwork that they may not be prepared to haul home. A simple drawstring bag can come to the rescue, as well as offer a good go-to carry all for personal or business items in the future. Offering double-duty services as a backpack and hoodie, the Quickflip Hero Hoodie will keep your employees cozy in a cool office and give them something to carry everything home in. With large and small carrying compartments, accompanied by fully adjustable straps, the creative functionality of the Hero will undoubtedly create a positive first impression.
In a competitive labor market, many times it’s the little things a company can do that will help new employees feel welcome initially and retain them for longer than a few months. Even though a beautiful welcome kit can never be a replacement for quality company culture and good benefits; if its contents are well thought out, welcoming, and of good quality; it can go a long way toward helping your newbies start off on the right foot.