Author Profile Picture

Dawn Hollingworth

Cielo Talent

Strategy Director, Employer Branding

Read more about Dawn Hollingworth

How to cultivate a winning mindset in your new joiners


In HR and Talent Acquisition circles, we place great emphasis on quality of hire, but recruiting people with the right skillset and experience is only part of the equation. With increasing pressure and expectations for new joiners to ‘hit the ground running’, we want our new joiners to slot in quickly, navigate easily and direct their confidence and energy to achieving our business goals. Here’s how savvy employers are designing their pre-boarding processes to equip new joiners with a winning mindset and enable them to make a difference from day one. Dawn Hollingworth discusses.

What’s your ‘Perfect 10’ Employee?

Imagine you had a magic wand to conjure up the perfect intake of employees.

What attributes would you wish for beyond the right skills and experience? Would positivity come high on your list? How about energy and enthusiasm or confidence and belief?

What sort of influence would you wish them to have on their peers or teams and how quickly would they make an impact on business performance and productivity?

In an ideal world, most employers want to hire people who have a great attitude as well as a great skills-set: we want people who will infuse our organisations with fresh energy, invest discretionary effort and help us to raise our game.

The good news is: employers don’t have to rely on magic to make this happen:  we have the power to release this potential in new joiners.

How do you influence new joiners to succeed from day one?

Empowering success begins the moment a candidate says, ‘Yes’ to a job offer. The critical phase from ‘Yes’ to day one can last from a couple of weeks to several months.

Depending on the organisation, it can either be a ‘limbo’ period or a structured transition that positively influences how the new joiner thinks, feels and acts towards the organisation and helps them start day one feeling confident, engaged and enabled to perform.

In order to positively influence individuals, we need to understand the common drivers that inspire people to be happy, to belong and to invest their best into an organisation.

If you have a buddy or mentoring programme, activate it in advance of day one.

A valuable tool is the PERMA model, a proven framework for happiness and wellbeing created by psychologist Martin Seligman. This model has been successfully implemented by organisations as diverse as McKinsey’s through to the U.S army. The principle here is simple: when employees are happy and well, they are positive and productive in the workplace.

PERMA stands for:

  • Positive emotion – cultivating a positive outlook; feeling stimulated, valued and having fun.
  • Engagement – focusing on things we enjoy and care about; playing to strengths and passions.
  • Relationships – enjoying positive and healthy relationships and meaningful connections
  • Meaning – deriving a sense of purpose from our activities; knowing we make a difference.
  • Achievement – accomplishing worthwhile goals and feeling satisfied.

Applying positive psychology to pre-boarding

How do these principles translate into the design of a transformational pre-boarding programme?

They act as a filter: a set of goals that govern decisions about each phase of the pre-boarding process and the design of each touchpoint with new joiners.

In reality, you can  meet most of these criteria by putting yourself in the new joiner’s shoes and imagining what it takes to make a new joiner feel good: about the organisation and about themselves and about the decision they’ve made.

What are the building blocks of a successful pre-boarding programme?

This section shows how positive influence can be embedded across the practical components of a new joiner journey. Cultivating a winning mind-set starts here.

Personalised welcome

Whether it’s an email, letter, card, video-card, printed pack or a phone call, it’s important to celebrate the individual’s  successful job offer and express enthusiasm for them coming on board.

At the less expensive end of the scale, this could be a hand-written card (never underestimate the impact of a thoughtful gesture).

If you have more budget to invest, consider a video card pack with a welcome message from leadership to cement positive impressions and further engage your new joiner in your purpose, mission and vision.

Whatever you do, make the individual feel important and reinforce the positive role they have to play in your future.

Welcome hub

There are numerous technology platforms in the market that enable you to provide  a  ‘one stop shop’ site that delivers a personalised experience, centralised content, paperless compliance, automated communication, and incentives for new joiners to complete tasks and immerse themselves in learning more about you.

These platforms operate across mobiles, tablets and PC, providing an ‘always on’ 24/7 opportunity for individuals to connect with your brand.

Behind the scenes, you can use the back office functionality to track new joiner activity and also to document, allocate and track internal day one readiness tasks, such as provision of laptop, passwords, set-up of intro meetings etc.

Inspiring content

If you want new joiners to feel optimistic about their future with you, to cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose that is aligned to your business goals and to be excited about their fresh start with your organisation, you need to share stories and strategies in a fun and engaging way.

Videos, infographics, animations and employee-generated content that stimulate interest, reinforce positive messaging and help new joiners to visualise themselves already working for and enjoying day-to-day life will engender positivity and commitment.

Empowering content

Preparing for a new role can be a daunting task, so sharing tips and guidance into how to prepare for day one, week one and that influential first 100 days will go a long way to instilling confidence and showing new joiners that you care about your people and are willing to invest in them

Consider incorporating strengths-based assessment exercises into the welcome hub, to help new joiners understand how they can perform at their best and be happiest. (NB – the same outputs can be shared with hiring managers so they can have more meaningful goal-setting and planning sessions with their new hires.)

Similarly, share guidance on boosting their personal brand through social media – the better their profile, the better an ambassador they will be for your business.

Early networking opportunities

Share information about your organisation’s communities, networks and interest groups; enable new joiners to register interest before day one.

The more they recognise that there are like-minded individuals at their future place of work, the more connected and committed they will be. Similarly, encourage team-members to connect with future joiners on LinkedIn.

This simple action has a disproportionately positive impact on new joiners in terms of feeling welcomed and wanted.

Combined with other networking opportunities, these pre-joining opportunities will help new joiners to start building their networks, which will enable them to navigate the organisation more easily and quickly when they join, speeding productivity.

If you have a buddy or mentoring programme, activate it in advance of day one.

Personal touch

Technology is great and when it’s used well it can deliver a personalised and efficient experience.

However, it’s still no substitute for the personal touch, whether that’s a phone call from a dedicated pre-boarding advisor or a hiring manager or buddy, or welcome emails from future team-members.

Share information about your organisation’s communities, networks and interest groups; enable new joiners to register interest before day one.

Ensure that you balance your hi-tech touchpoints with hi-touch initiatives and give new joiners an opportunity to participate in dialogue, ask questions and build relationships that will support their success from day one.


Please remember that any positive action towards making a new joiner feel welcomed, wanted, supported and connected is worthwhile and will yield benefits.

If you’re not in a situation where you can design a whole programme or invest in the technology you want, go back to the basics and think about how you want a new joiner to think, feel and act at each stage and how you can positively influence them.

Small actions can have big impacts, so be creative about how you build relationships with your new joiners and I’m confident you will see the benefits of fostering a great attitude from the get-go.

Want to read more on onboarding?

Explore the articles below…

Author Profile Picture
Dawn Hollingworth

Strategy Director, Employer Branding

Read more from Dawn Hollingworth

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.