Onboarding: Making the First Day a Success


The “First Day Jitters” may not be considered a medical condition, but they are still something that all hiring managers should be familiar with as they assist with onboarding new team members. The decision to switch careers is not an easy one for some to make—especially those who become comfortable with their work routine but still made the hard decision to switch jobs or even industries.

How nice would it be if we could just wave a magic wand and wash away those first day jitters? Sadly, I don’t know of a store that offers such a device but, as credit union leaders, we can help by simply recognizing that newer staff will need time to adjust to their new work environment.

Be sure to frequently check in with new staff, and when at all possible, consider making the process fun. Your staff will thank you for all your hard work in creating an experience that makes their onboarding process exciting and different from any other job they have started. Give them a reason to want to make their new credit union position their career.

Explore new spaces

Making a new employee’s first day a success starts before the actual day arrives. Before their start date, reach out to your new hire and give them a breakdown of what to expect.

Which office do they report to on day one? Where should they park? Who should they ask for at the front desk? Should they bring lunch? Is there a dress code? What hours will they work? Go through a list of any pressing questions they have and then be ready to greet them with a smile and start the day off with a tour of the office space(s). They may be both equally excited and nervous, so take it one step at a time and try not to overwhelm them with too much information. Stick to the basics like:

  • Where is their team located? This is a great chance to do quick introductions with their fellow coworkers!
  • Where can they find the breakroom? Take this as an opportunity to go over your break/lunch policy.
  • Where can they find the restroom(s)? Such a simple, but important part of the tour.
  • Where can they find you if they have any questions or concerns? Try to clear your calendar to remain available for unexpected questions or concerns.

Consider a welcome basket

Make some room in your budget for a new hire welcome basket. This is a cute and simple way to start the week out on a positive note. These can easily be stocked with credit union gear such as office supplies, logo wear, or water bottles already in your inventory. Or make it extra special with a local gift card. Don’t forget to squeeze in some tasty treats that can be enjoyed throughout the week.

Need some inspiration? Get ideas from your staff. You may be surprised at the overwhelming amount of feedback you receive from your team. That feedback can later be used to reward staff for a job well done or a random act of kindness after a hard week.

Bringing teams together

Do you have multiple locations but still want staff to feel connected? With today’s technology, staying connected is easier than ever!

Encourage new staff to send an “Introduction Email” where they introduce themselves to the rest of the credit union staff. This doesn’t have to be a stressful experience either. Simply launch a New Email as they set up their new workstation and allow them some personal time to draft a quick bio. Make each introduction special by asking them to use a catchy subject line that makes their introduction pop out from our everyday email exchanges which will be sure to generate a couple of smiles.

Get to know each other

There can be a lot on that never-ending to-do list, but it’s crucial that you get to know your staff. Take them out to lunch or out for a quick coffee break in the afternoon. Ask them to tell them more about themselves, and if you are comfortable, share a few things about yourself. Life goes on outside of work and it’s nice to share what we are passionate about. Struggling to come up with small talk? Try this:

  • Who inspires you the most?
  • What hobbies are you interested in?
  • When was the last time you traveled out of state?
  • Where did you grow up?

Don’t have time for lunch that afternoon? It happens. Be sure to send a seasoned team member instead and invite other team members when possible. It’s a great way to encourage team bonding in the beginning and shows that they have more than one person to reach out to for help in figuring out their new role.

Start off on the right foot

Try to create an environment where team members can settle in and get comfortable. These are some ideas to help you start brainstorming onboarding strategies that work for your credit union. But remember, while it’s important to start off on the right foot, good onboarding goes beyond the first day and into the first few weeks. Be sure to have an efficient training program ready.

Look at your onboarding plan, is there anything you would like to do differently? If so, time to start planning.


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