25 Creative Onboarding Ideas to Elevate the New Hire Experience

Posted in Talent & Onboarding

For some, the first day at a new job can bring back anxious memories of the first day of school – excitement, nerves, and the hope that you’ll fit in. It’s intense! For HR professionals and hiring teams, crafting unforgettable onboarding is about more than just making a good first impression. It’s an opportunity to immerse new hires in company culture and assure them they are where they belong. So what are some creative ideas to welcome newcomers and help them feel great about their first day and their future with your organization?

Onboarding in Today’s Workplace

First things first. Modern workplaces aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. Today’s companies are dynamic and diverse environments, often with team members spread across various locations or working remotely. This shift has challenged organizations to rethink their approach to onboarding. No longer can we rely solely on the traditional meet-and-greet and a stack of paperwork. Today’s onboarding needs to be engaging, memorable, and fun.

To make a first day memorable in this new environment, you will need to think outside the box, try new strategies, and welcome new employees in a way that fosters belonging from day one. Let’s explore some innovative approaches that are sure to inspire.

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20 Creative Onboarding Ideas to Steal

Front Door Welcome Party: Invite the whole team or company to show up at the door the first time your new hire arrives at your office — playing a favorite song and hanging balloons or throwing out confetti. Make their arrival a real celebration!

Welcome Buddy: Assign a point person at the peer level who can give your new hire some inside tips, introduce them around, and generally be there to answer questions. Plan both a morning and afternoon break with this buddy. (The best onboarding software, like Enboarder, even offers personalized buddy-matching capabilities. The power of human connection on the first day cannot be overstated.

Themed Welcome Kit: Personalize a welcome kit based on the new hire’s role, interests, or even the season — including office supplies, snacks, and other small gifts. This might be themed around your brand or as something like a “Survival Kit” for the winter months. This can add a playful touch to their first day. Using Enboarder? You can easily automate this kit with our Sendoso integration!

3 PM Munchie and Rookie Cookies: That mid-afternoon slump hits everyone, so why not make it a highlight for your new hire on their first day? Ask them about their favorite snack ahead of time and ensure it’s ready for them at their desk or delivered to their doorstep if they’re remote. It’s a simple gesture that says, “We’re glad you’re here, and we care about what makes you happy.” Add this to your onboarding agenda and provide an open house snack at the new hire’s desk, encouraging people to drop by, pick up a treat, and say hi!

Favorite Food Team Lunch: Nothing brings people together like good food. Within the first week, arrange a team lunch based on the new hire’s favorite restaurant or cuisine. It’s a great way for them to bond with their teammates in a relaxed setting and feel that their preferences matter. For remote teams, consider a virtual lunch where everyone orders from a restaurant of the new hire’s choosing, and the company picks up the tab. 

Swag Care Package: Everyone loves unboxing a surprise, especially when it’s full of gear. Ask new hires for their clothing sizes in advance and prepare a care package filled with company swag. Whether it’s waiting on their chair when they arrive or being sent to their home, it’s a tangible way to let them sport team colors from day one. 

First Day ‘Scavenger Hunt’: Organize a scavenger hunt that helps new hires learn about their workplace, colleagues, and even company trivia. This can be done physically in the office or through a digital platform for remote employees —like Enboarder! Another spin on this might be a clickable, interactive map in your favorite slide program showing different departments — with fun facts and employee testimonials about working in each area.

Meet the Team Video Series: Create short, fun videos of team members introducing themselves, sharing a fun fact, or offering advice to the new hire. This can help break the ice and foster a sense of community. Ask people who interviewed the new hire to specifically share thoughts on why they think they’ll be an awesome addition to the team.

Recognize Onboarding Rockstars: Encourage everyone in the organization to be part of the welcome committee, and recognize people who are knocking it out of the park! This is something our friends over at Arden University have done successfully — implementing an onboarding excellence award based on recognition from new starters. Begin by asking new recruits ‘Who’s given you a great experience or supported you throughout your onboarding process?’ and go from there!

Welcome Quiz: Create a light-hearted quiz about the company culture, office quirks, and team members. This can be a fun way for the new hire to learn about the company and its people, with small prizes for correct answers.

Escape Room Challenge: Design an escape room game themed around your company’s products, services, or history. If that’s a tall order, take your team off to an escape room for a team-building challenge!

Connection “Speed Dating”: Arrange quick, informal meetings between new hires and potential mentors in a “speed dating” format. This can help new employees find a mentor who aligns with their career goals and interests. If you’ve got Enboarder, you can create a fun activity around Connection Cards and encourage new hires and team members to learn more about one another on a personal level. 

Social Hour or Team Activity: Host a virtual or in-person social hour with team games, trivia about the company, a hands-on cooking class, or a themed cocktail/mocktail for workers to enjoy together.

Personalized Playlist: Ask existing employees to contribute to a welcome playlist with songs that represent the company or their own welcome messages.

‘A Day in the Life’ Shadow: Let workers shadow various job roles throughout the team, or engage in role-playing games to help new hires understand different aspects of the business. You can also invite new starters to experience the brand as a customer for the day — staying in your hotel as a guest, for example, trying your product or getting out into the field.

Lunch with the Top Brass: Schedule informal lunch meetings with company leaders, either in small groups or one-on-one, to foster connections from the top down.

Cultural Exchange Program: Welcoming a larger cohort of new starters? Pair new hires from different geographical locations to share something unique about their local culture or work practices.

‘Two Truths and a Lie’ Introductions: Have each team member share (or record a fun video of themselves telling) two truths and one lie about their work or personal life for the new hire to guess.

Share Team Connections Cards: Conduct a 1:1 version of our Connection Game. Help new hires introduce themselves and learn about team members by encouraging them to view connection cards and learn special facts about their coworkers.

Start on a Friday: Often, starters begin on a Monday, when team members are most likely to be busy or stressed. Starting on Friday can be more low key and less overwhelming, especially if the whole team isn’t there.

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5 More Onboarding Ideas for Remote Employees

The rise of remote work increases the need for unique onboarding that creates a memorable first experience for new hires. But fear not! There are plenty of out-of-the-box onboarding ideas designed specifically for remote or hybrid employees. Here are five to consider.

Virtual Reality Office Tour: Bring the office to them with a virtual reality (VR) tour. Create an immersive experience that lets remote employees explore the office, meet their team through pre-recorded videos, and learn about the company culture in a fun, engaging way.

Digital Welcome Stream: Prompt team members to reach out with 1:1 personal welcome messages, texts, or videos to quickly make the new hire feel like part of the team!

Welcome Wall: Set up a digital welcome wall where team members can post welcome messages, GIFs, memes, or short videos. It’s a fun, interactive way to make the new hire feel celebrated and start building connections with their colleagues from day one. 

Virtual Coffee Breaks: Schedule virtual coffee breaks with different team members during the new hire’s first week. Provide them with a small stipend to order their favorite beverage and make these breaks informal chats rather than work-focused meetings. It’s a great way for remote employees to get to know their colleagues in a relaxed setting.

DIY Desk Setup for Remote Workers: Send a box with customizable office supplies and decorations to remote workers, letting them personalize their home office space. 

Fostering a Culture of Connection

These onboarding ideas are more than just fun and games. They are a strategic approach to building a culture of connection and engagement from the start. Automated employee onboarding systems and creative agendas also play a critical role in making these ideas a reality, providing the framework to deliver these experiences seamlessly and effectively.

Remember, the goal is not just to inform but to inspire, engage, and integrate new employees into your organization’s fabric. With the right mix of creativity, technology, and personalized attention, your onboarding process can set the stage for a productive, satisfied, and connected workforce.

Looking for more ways to use onboarding to to improve productivity and retention? Explore the latest ideas in our webinar: “From Stress to Success: Enboarder’s Onboarding Walkthrough.” Watch now to discover how you can make your new hire experience not just effective, but extraordinary.

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