Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Dealing with the First Day

An employee’s first day on the job can be one of the most taxing days during their tenure at a company. For the new employee, the expectations are high and there are numerous uncontrollable variables to consider. For the employer, the goal should be to help the newest addition to the team get comfortable while still having a productive day. In some instances, instead of keeping busy, some new hires endure too much free time in their schedule with nothing to fill it with since they haven’t been trained. Not only does this make for an awkward first day for an employee, it wastes valuable time that an employer could spend acclimating the new hire. Instead of simply leaving a new employee to fend for themselves, consider a few ways to fill their day:

  1. Prep your team and assign a buddy. Perhaps the buddy system is only appropriate now in the community swimming pool. How useful can it really be? If anything, it gives the new employee a starting point. However, it is important to be clear with both the individual who you are asking to take on this role as well as the new employee what the expectations are of this buddy relationship. This person is not meant to be an encyclopedia, babysitter, or even a mentor unless the two decide on that relationship on their own terms. This person is simply someone to use as a sounding board to answer basic questions about the company such as: where is the supply closet? Who do I ask about problem X? How do I resolve a common computer issue?
  2. Set up meetings with other managers and others on the team to understand their jobs and the company as a whole. Effective employees have a solid grasp on the entire scope of the company. They are aware of how their job interacts with others, what deliverables they owe individuals in other departments, and how to self-seek needed information. Their first day may be a good time to have them meet with other managers in order to learn about the processes of other departments and how this employee might interact with those departments. This can be useful for filling in 15 minute or half-hour time slots when there may be downtime for the new employee.
  3. Have a task list. Even if this includes items such as creating a voicemail message, setting up the email inbox, that’s okay. But hand your new employee a task list while giving the expectation that creating a daily task list will now be their responsibility.
  4. Have a wind-down session at the end of the day: thirty minutes before the end of the day, sit down with your new employee and ask them about their observations, questions, concerns, apprehensions, etc. Hopefully this can be a space where the employee gains clarity about their new role.
  5. Finally, set clear expectations with the new hire. Admit up front that the first day will likely not be a stroll through the woods, but assure them that as life at the company comes into focus, things will get better.

Do you keep your new hires busy on their first day or do you give them some free time? Why? Offer your explanation in the comments below.

SOURCE: First Day on the Job Blues

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by woodleywonderworks

Kailyn Baum

Kailyn is a recent college graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. She is currently working in the publishing industry, where she loves the fact that she is paid to immerse herself in talking and thinking about books all day long. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking, line-dancing, and writing short stories and poetry. Her sincerest hope for contributing to Spark Hire’s job seeker blog is to provide job seekers of all ages with the tools and sense of humor necessary to stay calm and carry on.


  • Kailyn, I think you really have the right idea here. When I first got started with my organization something that really made the onboarding process (and initials weeks on the job) so smooth was the fact that I had a “buddy” that made sure things went smoothly for me.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • @rorytrotter86 Hi Rory, thank you for your feedback! That’s great to hear the buddy system worked for you when you were a new hire. Props to that organization for implementing it in their onboarding process.