Start On the Right Foot: How to Write a New Employee Welcome Message
It has been proven many times over that an employee's onboarding experience sets them up for success in their role.
It can be the secret ingredient that
- keeps them in the organization longer...
- ...producing a higher quality of work.
One of the first contact points of a high-quality onboarding experience is the welcome message - a piece of communication that sets the tone of the employee's relationship with the company.
A few kind and enthusiastic words can go a long way towards how someone starts their job. A new employee message is far too important to be pulled together haphazardly; it needs to have an intention behind it.
A great welcome message should be
But how do you craft it?
How do you write and deliver your message in a way that starts this new employee relationship on the right foot?
We'll take you through examples of some of the best welcome messages we can all learn from. We'll accompany this with the rationale why they are so effective at giving someone the confidence, encouragement, and motivation to start strong.
❗️ Why your new employee messages matter
An employee message is the first real interaction a hire has with your company.
The interview is their experience as candidates, but once they get the job, you have to change how you interact with them and show that they are now a part of your team.
- It sets the tone of their relationship with the company - if they feel unwelcome, it can compromise their ability to fit into the role.
- It provides a positive start to a new part of their career by providing emotional support for this life change.
- It ushers in a new chapter for them, allowing them to take the first step of breaking away from their old job.
- It primes them for your company. Even if someone is technically aligned with the job, you'll still have to train them in your company culture, perspective, and operations.
- It gives them a look into your culture and the kind of vibe they can expect as an employee.
- It allows you to reiterate your core values to know what they're about to be part of.
- It gets them excited for the work they'll be doing and gears them up to contribute to achieving your mission.
- It gives them a lay of the land regarding the company and how it functions.
- It creates a more engaged employee right from the start.
- It answers the questions a new employee will immediately have in the first hours and days, setting them up for success.
- It's crucial in a remote world. With many roles becoming fully virtual, employees aren't going to meet their new team in person right from the beginning.
🕐 When to send out the first message
Before you start writing out your message, there is one important question you need to have addressed:
When exactly are you sending it to the employee?
This determines what you'll need to say and how many messages you'll send (more on that later).
We'll show you.
As soon as they are hired
Even if the job will start in a few weeks or months, sending the message at this point will really endear the employee to you and start building a relationship.
Plus, the sooner you engage new hires, the less likely they will be to look for alternatives even before starting.
The downside is that you'll need to send them more messages closer to their start date.
A week before they start
In the lead-up to them starting the role, you can send them a welcome message to build excitement and let them know that the team is looking forward to having them onboard.
This one is absolutely crucial as it's the single communication that helps people understand what to expect on their first day, when to start, etc.
This gives you time to stagger multiple messages, but on the other hand, it can also be overwhelming for them as they tie up loose ends at their previous job.
Also, if your message contains sensitive company information, you might want to wait till they start.
On their first day
This is a way to usher new hires in as soon as they start.
It allows them to be more mentally engaged in onboarding because they are not dealing with their former role.
It also means that you can run everything through the company's internal communication channels.
🧠 The mindset behind the message
Put Yourself in the New Employee's Shoes
When a new employee joins your organization, they are entering uncharted and unknown territory in many ways.
They are anxious about making a good impression, proving they were the right hire and nervous about a leap into something completely different.
Even if the job you just hired them for is the same as their last role, your company, your systems, and your culture are something they'll need to learn.
They don't know
- who they will be working with
- how well they will get along with their new colleagues
- how easily they can learn the role,
- and whether they'll succeed in the job.
All of this comes with a lot of pressure and self-doubt.
A welcome message might not answer every single one of these questions, but it can certainly make them feel more welcome and less alone in this experience.
Define Your Purpose
The key to crafting a compelling welcome message for a new employee is setting a clear purpose and intention and thinking deeply about the feeling you want them to have when they finish reading it
This should tie in with your core values and what you care about as an organization.
Think about 3 things you want the message to achieve.
Maybe you want to
- inspire them
- reflect the warmth of your organization
- take away anxiety
- prepare them for day 1
- express your confidence in their abilities and the impact they'll make in the organization.
Whatever your intention is, it will inform exactly what the message is supposed to say.
Start With the End in Mind
When onboarding an employee, you often think about how you want them to emerge from the process.
You don't just want them to know how to do the job; you want them to be so aligned and well-trained that they would be able to train the next person to succeed in the organization.
Your welcome message is similar - it should be so effective that if you tasked them with writing a welcome message for a future new employee, they could do it effortlessly.
📝 What to include in the new employee message
Here are the things you definitely shouldn't miss in the message.
- A warm, welcoming opening, showing that you're excited to have them onboard (e.g., "we're excited to have you here!")
- Their start date
- Who they will be working with and report to
- Logins and an introduction to project management and communication tools
- Information about their company email address and how it will be set up
- An outline of what their first week will look like and what's expected of them
Some other things you can include;
- Company organization chart
- Links to a blog about the story of the company
- Introduction to a buddy who will support them in their first weeks
- Photos of the team interacting and screenshots of virtual meetings
- An empowering quote
- A list of their team members and fun facts about each of them
- The mindset you want them to nurture in their roles - e.g. [Ogilvy and Mather] who listed courage, idealism, curiosity, playfulness, candor, free-spiritedness, and persistence
❌ Why one message won't cut it
A new employee has a lot of new information to consume, and if we're being honest, dispensing it in one message would be overwhelming, and it also won't be effective.
One onboarding message simply wouldn't be enough, and this gives you information to truly tailor a path for them to learn and be set up for success.
A modern experience rather resembles an email series where you slowly dispense information in bite-sized chunks, helping the reader understand each concept before moving on to the next one.
Onboarding is a journey, not a one-time message.
At Zavvy, we recommend seeing onboarding as a process that takes at least 90 days.
A considerable time period full of messages, celebrations, social gatherings, and informative content.
Here's an example of a workflow for the first 3 days on our platform.
✉️ Choosing your employee message channels
The kind of welcome message you'll end up with has a lot to do with the channel or platform through which the message will be dispensed.
If the message is in an email, you have more words to use, so it can be more lengthy and include more sections.
Collaboration tools like Slack or MS Teams
On the other hand, a Slack message can also feel more friendly and approachable, definitely bringing a more human feel to the interaction.
It also creates room for engagement and two-way conversation, which can provide a sense of community right from the start.
➡️ Read our step-by-step tutorial on creating onboarding workflows via Slack
Bear in mind that you're not limited to one channel alone.
It's possible to have both a lengthier welcome email and a Slack message to create more touchpoints. Slack also allows you to introduce someone to a group, where everyone can post encouraging messages, which also goes a long way to create a positive experience.
Your company's social media is also a great channel to post a welcome message to an employee, in addition to email and Slack. It's public-facing, showing the whole company's excitement and optimism.
You can use LinkedIn to post a simple welcome message that's formal but still friendly.
If your brand posts on channels on Instagram, you can have more fun with the message. In this example from everyone social, you can announce your new hire and tell your followers details about them, like their hobbies and interests.
The Rise of the Welcome Kit
Some companies go further.
They create a welcome pack filled with helpful information and fun items that make the experience of joining the company more memorable.
Ogilvy and Mather gave new employees a box containing a card with
- ✉️ a personalized welcome letter
- 📓 a branded book
- 📖 diary
- 🖊️ pen
- ✏️ pencil
- 💾 USB stick
Other customized welcome swag kits include
- ☕ mugs
- 🍾 bottles
- 🎧 headphones
- 🎒 bags
...and other items that will set them up for success.
A kit is a pleasant surprise that makes your people feel more valued from day one.
🏢 Best practices and examples
Finding out you're hired is a great feeling.
Excitement, optimism, and motivation are in the room.
But the closer you get to the starting date, the more the nerves set in.
Congratulating new hires on their success brings back the sense of confidence and excitement they first had when they got that "you're hired" notification.
It reminds them that they are valuable.
It's as simple as saying
"we heard through the grapevine that a superstar is joining our team!"
Few words, but they go a long way.
Bring Them Into the Fold
Joining a new company is exciting, but it can also be isolating.
It can feel like the first day of school all over again.
The employee is leaving behind an organization where they worked for years.
A place they made friends at.
And now, it's back to zero.
Your welcome message should embrace them with open arms and show that there's a team of people ready to make them feel right at home.
Give Them the Resources They Need
One thing that makes the first few weeks so overwhelming for a new employee is grappling with all the tools, resources, and things they don't know about.
Piled on top of that is
- not knowing who to ask
- how to ask,
So, why not do so in your welcome messages?
This example from Sinc positions the whole team as a resource available for questions at any time.
Some questions a new employee would have;
- Who will I be working with on a day-to-day basis?
- What am I expected to know at the end of week 1, 2, 3, or 4?
- Who do I reach out to if I have a problem?
- What meetings do I need to attend?
- Where do I get access to my email and other vital applications?
Tone is an essential part of crafting a compelling welcome message.
- Should you be formal or more casual and laid back?
- Do you want to speak the language of the younger members of your workforce?
The answer to this come basically comes down to your employer brand.
Ask yourself: Who does your company want to be for its people?
And then, go on and let that guide the way you write. Whatever you say has to feel authentic to the organization and the kind of voice.
State Your Core Values
A welcome message is an opportunity to state your core values, tell them the bigger vision, and, most importantly, how they will fit into it.
In this example from Apple, the message isn't just welcoming; it's inspiring and rousing - it lets the new employee know that they are making a significant contribution to improving the world.
This isn't just work; it's about being a part of something bigger, the chance to join a team of world-class innovators and do work that matters.
You can use your welcome message to share the larger purpose of your organization and get someone excited about what they'll be doing daily.
Here's an example from our very own welcome message.
- During preboarding, new hires get an invitation to our preboarding software.
- This message is the very first step they see on there.
- And it's of course accompanied by engaging journeys that guide new hires for weeks
Why not lean into a bit of wisdom by starting your welcome message with a great quote?
From Simon Sinek to Martin Luther King and T.S Eliot, you can pull from some of the best minds to welcome someone into your organization and give them some motivation to get them started.
A few ideas;
The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper and re-imagines the world.
- Malcolm Gladwell
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.
- Meister Eckhart
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
- Lao Tzu
Don't Just Tell, Show
You can achieve this by sharing snapshots and screengrabs of team huddles and events, showing how the team members communicate, and bringing them in on an inside joke.
Remember, culture isn't what you tell them; it's what the team displays even when they're not trying.
On the subject of show, not tell, you can bring video into your message to add a human element.
Even if it's a 60-second video welcoming them to the team, seeing a friendly face can go a long way to engage an employee right from the beginning of their career journey.
You can create a video of different team members welcoming them and offering encouragement.
➡️ Wrap Up
A message to a new employee might seem like a tiny detail
But if you think about the huge role it plays in your onboarding process, you'll realize it needs more attention and intention.
Curious to give your people the truly welcoming onboarding experience they deserve - and that gets them to productivity quicker?
Learn more about our HR onboarding software.