Think outside the box – 19 fun ways to welcome new employees

Group of coworkers at a conference table seen through glass

4 mins, 15 secs read time

Having new hires join your company is a cause for celebration, but how often does it really feel festive? There can be a temptation to just focus on all the things that need to get done: filling out paperwork, ordering supplies, and setting up a workspace, for example.

But it helps to take a step back and remember that new hire onboarding doesn’t have to be boring, and in fact, you can get as creative as you’d like when designing your onboarding program.

Want some ideas to spark your creativity? Read on for 19 ways you can make onboarding interactive and fun:

  1. Send an email to the company introducing your new hire. Don’t just limit it to their education and work history—include some additional information about their hometown, favorite sports team, go-to karaoke songs, spirit animal, etc.
  2. Make a welcome sign and get everyone from the department (or company) to sign it.
  3. Offer a catered breakfast for the entire class of new hires, team, or office (depending on your company size and budget). If you’re involving more seasoned employees, encourage everyone to stick around for a bit and get to know the new hires.
  4. Ask new hires to think of ways you could improve the onboarding experience and present their suggestions to the People Team (or whoever oversees onboarding).
  5. Offer a lending library of books that have influenced the company’s founders.
  6. Hold a Q&A; with a class of new hires and one of the company co-founders to address all questions about the company’s history, vision, and direction.
  7. Decorate the new hire’s desk with balloons, a welcome sign, their favorite breakfast food, or all three!
  8. Throw a “100th Day” party for all employees who have been at the company for up to 100 days.
  9. Invite new hires to a lunch with your CEO or other executives.
  10. Send new hires on a scavenger hunt through the office that encourages them to meet people in every department, learn more about their team members, and understand the office layout.
  11. If you’re regularly onboarding multiple new hires at once, ask each onboarding class to choose a team name, take a group photo together, and participate in a group activity like volunteer work or organizing a social event for the office.
  12. Start a “rookie cookie” program. New hires bring in cookies, donuts, or some other treat and set them up at their desk sometime during their first month. This will encourage all employees to stop by and get to know the new employee (instead of making the new hire do all the work).
  13. Put together a care package of company swag. Bonus points if there’s special significance for your company’s history or their role.
  14. Create a customized message to appear on TV monitors throughout the office or on the new employee’s computer monitor when they first arrive.
  15. Organize a social activity with everyone on the new hire’s team. This could be lunch, happy hour, a coffee break, ping pong match, or anything else you can think of!
  16. Play a simple get-to-know-you game like “Two Truths and a Lie.” Another fun take on this is to use trivia about the new hire as the basis for a game. Start by setting down a line on the ground with electrical tape. Make a statement about the new hire, like “Jess attended UC Berkeley” and ask people to step to one side of the line if they think it’s true and the other if they think it’s false. Then everyone on the correct side of the line stays in the game and everyone who was wrong is eliminated. Keep going until there’s a single winner. You can even make it extra silly by making the prize a T-shirt with a photo of the new employee’s face on it.
  17. Request some fun info from new hires such as their favorite drink, food they’d like to eat on their birthday, dream vacation spot, secret talent, or whether they believe in ghosts or aliens. You can ask them to introduce themselves at the next all hands or team meeting, or store this information in your company wiki orGreenhouse Onboarding.
  18. Start a buddy program that partners new hires with employees who have been at your company for at least a few months. You might want to pair new hires with people in other departments so they have a familiar face around the office and get the chance to learn how things work beyond your department.
  19. Does your company have any funny moments in its history? Urban legends that remain unsubstantiated but still get shared? Or maybe just some unique jargon that tends to stump newbies? Be sure to organize a session to introduce new hires to all those little details that they might not pick up otherwise.

These ideas are all just starting points, so be sure to make changes and adjustments based on your company size and personality. And if you have any fun examples you’d like to share, be sure to leave a note in the comments!

Know you want to improve your onboarding program but don’t know where to start? Download the New hire onboarding guide for step-by-step advice on designing and implementing a comprehensive onboarding program.

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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.