When lastminute.com moved its group headquarters to a swanky new Farringdon office in April, it seemed like a good chance to revamp its welcome pack for new joiners.
As a result, it turned to us, the same language consultancy that had worked on the ‘tone of voice’ of its marketing collateral a few years before, in order to help replace its ‘Pink Pack’.
This weighty tome covered everything from interesting brand-related facts to how to transfer a telephone call. But despite containing lots of useful information, it was felt that the Pink Pack no longer captured the real spirit of working at the online travel agency.
Based on this experience and others, I decided to share my top tips for ensuring that new starters both feel welcome and excited about your brand:
1. Identify your aims and objectives
How do you want people to use your welcome pack? Is it meant to simply be a feel-good message for new joiners to read on their first day or something more practical that they can keep referring to until the day that they leave? Once you’ve decided on your goals, structure and write your communications with that in mind.
In the case of lastminute.com, we separated ‘need-to-know’ and ‘nice-to-know’ information into two guides. This meant that things like the story of the brand and the best local cafés for a fry-up were in one place, while the really practical things such as how to claim expenses were in a separate A–Z guide for quick reference.
2. Don’t try and do everything yourself
Look beyond the HR team for ideas on what to include in the pack. For example, ask recent new joiners what advice they found most useful in their first month or seek other staff members’ recommendations for where to find the best sandwiches.
3. Think about the impact of what you’re saying
Chances are that your new joiners will be more interested in the date of their first payday than your policy on time off in lieu for Territorial Army
But some welcome communications launch straight into redundancy procedures from the word ‘hello’. While there is, of course, a place for such messages, they shouldn’t be the first thing that your new joiners read.
4. Be true to your brand
If you’re a weighty investment bank but your welcome communications focus on ‘HOW GREAT IT IS TO WORK HERE!!!’ you could put off new recruits. On the flipside, if yours is a friendly, matey brand but your welcome letter is formal, new joiners might question what your culture is really like behind closed doors.
In lastminute.com’s case, the aim was to reflect its fun, laid-back culture and so everything was written in that spirit. This included the Chairman’s welcome letter, which was rewritten as a 60-second interview and included questions such as ‘What did you want to be when you grew up?’ and ‘What’s the ultimate jetlag cure?’
Moreover, in the welcome pack, there were lots of top tips for things to see and do in the area, which fitted perfectly with the spirit of the firm’s brand.
5. Think beyond the pack
Putting a nicely written and designed welcome pack on new hires’ desks on their first day is one thing, but what about everything else around it? Their offer letter, employment contract, HR policies or employee handbooks – all of these things are ‘welcome communications’ too. So they should all look and feel as if they’re coming from the same place.
But it’s not just about written communications. Often it’s the little touches that make the deepest impression. We, for instance, provide our newbies with a book and some letter-shaped biscuits wrapped up on their desk. It’s little details like this that really make people feel welcome – and, even more importantly, make them want to stay.
Anelia Varela is creative director at brand language consultancy, The Writer.