The Power of First Impressions in the Workplace

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by viperk's , last updated on

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Author’s Note: The following blog post offers a “first impression” of viperks’ upcoming eBook entitled “You Wouldn’t Believe How Awesome My First Day of Work Was at…” Creating the essential onboarding playbook for how companies with strong culture train new employees, this eBook will be published during the last week of October.

You only get one chance.

Once the blank canvas that is your new employee’s initial perception of your company is colored with a mental image, your opportunity for a memorable first impression has come and gone.

Psychologists have devoted their entire careers to studying the science behind what makes a first impression so meaningful, and yet its power is rarely overvalued. The halo effect – the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in other areas – is all too real. If you enjoyed/disliked the first few paragraphs of this blog, chances are you’ll draw assumptions about the remainder to determine whether to continue/stop reading.

Much has been written about the measures new employees should take on their first day to make a strong first impression on their new employer: Dress to impress, arrive early, have a positive attitude, etc. But what about the first impressions these new hires draw from that employer?

First impressions, after all, are a two-way street, and many new employees don’t seem to like what they see. Research indicates that nearly one-third (31 percent) of rookie employees have quit a job within their first sixth months of employment. Furthermore, new hires don’t take long to make up their minds about an employer, with most deciding whether they feel “at home” during their first three weeks at a new job.

You should strive to make a strong first impression on your new hires during day-one onboarding, and here are five strategies to accomplish just that:

1. Set the Stage in Advance

Unless you’re an adventurist, you probably like to have some idea what you’re getting yourself into, and your new hires are no different. For their sake, send an email prior to their first day to establish guidelines and expectations. This communication can introduce them to the HR employee who will oversee onboarding (a photo/bio of that individual never hurts), provide a checklist regarding what will be covered the first day and seek to address any questions they have entering day one.

2. Make Arrival Easy

First days can be stressful but arriving at the office doesn’t have to be. Schedule your new employees’ first day such that they arrive before or after rush hour and miss the worst traffic. Make sure your new hires have convenient parking and clear directions regarding where they need to go upon arrival. A little hand-holding initially can ensure your new employees’ anxiety levels stay in check.

3. Location, Location, Location

A dark, cramped environment will influence a new employee’s first impression before an onboarding presentation even begins. Host your new-hire onboarding in a conference room boasting comfortable seating, adequate lighting and ventilation, ample space and state-of-the-art presentation technology. Make sure your onboarding space is as welcoming as you are. If it’s where you’d host an important sales pitch, then it’s also appropriate for hosting new employees.

4. Lead with an Ice-Breaker

Rather than delving into the nuts and bolts of your HR paperwork right away, start with an ice-breaking activity. It can be something as simple as a quick team breakfast or as involved as a fun team-building exercise like “Stuck on a Deserted Island,” for which each participant must determine what three items they would need for isolated island survival. But regardless of the scope of the activity, it should calm your new hires, introduce them to one another and induce some laughter.

5. Make Your New Hires Feel Like They Matter

Ultimately, your new hires will develop their first impression based on a sense of worth and belonging. By engaging them in the onboarding process, helping them feel comfortable and answering any questions they have, you can help your new employees realize that they’re more than a filled cubicle and new revenue source. That early sense of appreciation will help ensure a positive first impression is achieved.

At viperks, our lasting first impression is that of industry leader in helping our customers improve employee engagement and productivity. Contact us – your employees will thank you.


Want to learn more about how you can help your employees be happier and more productive? We’re here to talk.

Topics: onboarding

blog author

Scott Moss

Scott is a business development professional with over 20 years of veteran experience dealing with large, complex sales of intangible services with extended sales cycles. He has domain expertise in rewards/recognition programs for Fortune 1000 organizations along with intimate knowledge of ecommerce best practices, consumer & B2B marketing, and behavioral economics. Scott is a 1991 graduate of Syracuse University.