You want to go where everybody knows your name
Ever been the new kid at school? Then you will remember the sweaty palms, the butterflies, the sideways glances in the hallway, like it was yesterday.
As an adult, being the new person at a job feels pretty darn similar, minus the heavy backpack (and surging hormones and acne, thank God). Awkward, unsure, and like a stranger in a strange land.
It’s one of the worst parts of being new.
It can be distracting from learning your roles and responsibilities too.
And if your new organization is super unwelcoming, (some are downright rude) you will be planning your departure before your training even wraps up.
Gosh, what if someone cared enough to try to eliminate those newbie jitters? What if despite being new, everyone knew your name and said hello, with a smile! Like the greeting Norm gets at Cheers! How about your new coworkers and leaders going out of their way to chat with you and get to know you!?
Giving it all you’ve got
We talk about the 11-star experience quite a bit in the work we do with clients. Our discussions are brainstorming sessions around how an organization can use their exceptional culture to take the typical new hire experience and elevate it to a memorable and meaningful experience.
Typically, the 11-star version of the hum drum is not super fancy and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. We wouldn’t suggest sending new hires on an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii (although in this line of work, many deserve it!). But we would suggest intentionally planning the various elements of a new hire’s experience to be as WOW as possible.
Friendship Retirement Community, a client of ours (proud moment!!!) in Roanoke, Virginia, gives the 11-star experience all they’ve got. They look at milestones in a new hire’s timeline from a different lens. Instead of checking off boxes in a run-of-the-mill way, they aim to impress at every opportunity along the way.
You can’t just sit back and passively expect top talent to want to stay at your organization! You have to work for it, just as you expect them to work with all they’ve got for you!
We are about to share with you a simple example of how to infuse special into ordinary that has huge payoffs for all. Drumroll, please! And what we are about to share, YOU can do too… (drums rolling)… and it doesn’t cost much money at all… (still rolling)… and it doesn’t require tremendous planning… (STILL rolling)… ok enough with the drumming, I can’t hear myself think! Without further ado…
The New Hire Ribbon
New hires at Friendship are given a blue ribbon with gold script that reads New Hire. It affixes to their standard name badge and is worn for the first 90 days of their employ. Existing staff, leaders, and residents are encouraged to approach and engage with anyone wearing the new hire ribbon. Say hello, introduce yourself, learn about the person, make a human connection.
Chuck Flynn, an administrator at Friendship, talks about how useful the new ribbon was when his community welcomed a new team member. “If we were not using the ribbon, I might not have had the opportunity to engage or even know that she was new, or to check in to see how she was feeling, if she had any questions, or needed anything. It simply is a great conversation piece.”
In a large organization, a new hire can just blend in with the scenery. The addition of a unique identifier helps pull the new hire out and into the fold of the organization in a quicker and more thoughtful manner.
While you are at it, make it a party!
At the 90-day mark, Friendship hosts a new hire ceremony. Honestly, it’s a party! Joe Hoff, CEO, kicks off the festivities with a speech of congratulations to the group of new hires as the leadership team and direct supervisors watch on. Friendship takes this opportunity to gather feedback from the newbies-no-more by asking them for their impressions of being new there, including things the organization does right and things they can do better. (Ah, empowerment and recognition!) They serve refreshments and play Drive’s human bingo, which is a fun get-to-know-you game.
The new hires then remove the ribbon ceremoniously and choose their “word”. This is a special word that defines the attribute for which they want to be thought of at Friendship (see photos below). The words are actually personal values that each employee holds dear. We know for a fact that when people are allowed to bring their personal values to work and live them, and in this example, be celebrated for them, great things happen. Engagement sky rockets and personal fulfillment abounds. Because of this word, leaders have a clearer understanding of what is important to this team member, which has implications on how to manage him/her and how best to encourage them along their career path toward their personal goals.
So you see, a simple idea (high five from Drive to Friendship) can provide deep layers of meaning for a new person. It takes a new J-O-B and elevates it to a different experience all together, more like a second family, a home away from home, a place to plan a future, a place to grow roots and spread your wings.
A place where everybody knows your name. And great culture is behind it all.