The value of a successful onboarding process for new employees cannot be underestimated. When you add up all the different factors like advertising, agency fees, background checks and the time spent by your own staff, the average cost per hire in the UK is £3,000 per employee.
That’s not the kind of investment any company can afford to just throw away. When you identify your chosen candidate, you want to make sure you get a good return on the time, effort and money spent. That return comes from them successfully integrating into your team and making a positive, productive contribution over a long and successful career.
We all know what they say about first impressions. They make all the difference in the selection process at interview. But equally, the impression you make on new starters as a company can make all the difference as to how quickly they settle in and how comfortable they feel. Putting it simply, happy recruits who feel welcome and wanted integrate quickly, get up to speed fast and are more likely to stick around to become key parts of your team.
On the flipside, new recruits who are left with a bad first impression of their new employer may never feel at home and are much more likely to leave. That’s your investment down the drain, and you have to start all over again.
There are lots of different parts to the onboarding process, and you can read all about them in our New Employee Starter Guide. But like we say, those very first impressions really matter. Right from making the offer to a candidate, you should be focusing on making every new starter feel welcome, and getting them up to speed with company processes and culture.
That’s why your new employee welcome email or letter is so important. This sets the tone for the rest of the onboarding process. It’s their first interaction with you as an employee rather than as a candidate. The tone and content of that email goes a long way to determining the course of your relationship going forward.
What do I want to achieve with a new employee welcome email?
A letter or email to a new starter can serve several purposes at once. First and foremost, you want to extend an official welcome to the new recruit. For that, you should aim for a warm, welcoming, friendly tone.
At the same time, you are offering an official welcome on behalf of the whole company. It makes sense for it to be sent in the name of a senior manager, head of HR, department lead or, at the very least, the new starter’s line manager. As you are writing on behalf of the wider company, you want to come across as friendly but polite. Avoid anything overly informal or ‘chatty’. You want to strike a balance between being approachable and welcoming and businesslike and professional.
A welcome letter is also an opportunity to communicate important information to the new starter. Bear in mind that they might be nervous about joining a new team, or have lots of questions to ask. Your welcome email can provide a lot of reassurance and answers to set them at ease ahead of their first say. Think about making your letter as helpful and reader-friendly as possible. Set out important details clearly and succinctly. Break up long paragraphs and use headings and bullet points to make it easier to scan and digest information.
What should I include?
You can break down a new starter welcome email into three main sections, as follows.
Information that will be useful to the new employee
These are the factual details that will help the new starter prepare for their first day and beyond. Keep it to the key essentials - too long a list will come across as intimidating. But key need-to-know information that will be of real use to them might include:
- Start date and start time
- If based on premises, directions about where to go and who to ask for. Include any information about parking, security access etc if necessary.
- If working remotely, details about what software platforms they will be using, how they log in on that first morning etc. You should liaise between your HR and IT teams to see if they can be set up as a user in time for a link and log in details to be sent in the welcome email.
- Personal documents to bring with them or have on hand for induction on the first day, e.g. bank account details, passport, proof of right to work in the country etc.
- Outline of what the orientation process will look like, what the employee can expect on the first day and first week etc.
- Information about key contacts (e.g. who their line manager will be, their mentor if you have a system like that), what department they will be working in etc.
- Any important documentation you need the new recruit to read and/or sign ahead of their start date. This might include key policies, training documentation, perhaps their contract of employment. These can be attached to the email as separate files.
Background information about the company, its history and culture
Good recruits will have done their research about your company. Most workers want to be sure a company is a good fit for their values and ambitions as much as the other way round.
Still, your welcome email is an opportunity to fill in any gaps. Again, keep it concise, summing up the company history in no more than a couple of paragraphs. Keep it upbeat - this is another opportunity to reassure a new starter, and remind them about why they wanted to apply to work for your company in the first place, by highlighting all the great things you offer as a place to work.
Thank the new starter for accepting the offer of a contract, and express how excited you are to work with them
Finally, back to one of the key aims of a new employee welcome email - establishing a bond, making them feel welcome. People respond positively to other people when they are warm, courteous and open.
Make the new starter feel valued right from the outset by saying what a pleasure it is to have them onboard, thanking them for choosing to join the company, and how exciting it is for you. This will help to turn any nerves into excitement on their behalf.
Add a personal touch, too. Ask if they have any questions, and invite them to approach you directly if they do. Provide your direct telephone line and email. That will go a long way to providing reassurance, giving the new starter the impression that they are joining a company that values people and wants to help.