Onboarding new hires during the holiday season: Making it festive and meaningful

Appical Team
Khrystyna Fedoruk
December 14, 2023
min read
Table of Contents
The holiday season is a time filled with joy and excitement, but it's also a crucial period to remember the significance of company spirit. Onboarding new employees is always a special moment, and if you happen to welcome new hires during this festive season, it becomes essential to create a meaningful and delightful experience for them. Here are 9 tips (+ last-minute suggestions) on how to do so:

1. Deck the halls: Decorate the office 

Create a warm, festive atmosphere in your office to welcome your new hires. A comfortable environment can help ease their initial anxiety and contribute to their sense of belonging.

This can be done through putting up banners, lights, or other festive decorations that reflect the holiday spirit. Consider using colors and themes associated with the holiday season, such as red and green, or use your corporate colors. Additionally, you may set up a designated area for a holiday tree or a fun display incorporating cultural elements and symbols of different seasonal celebrations. The key is to create an inviting and cheerful space that makes your new hires feel welcome and excited about joining the team.

Last-minute suggestion: Decorate the chair or desk of your new hires in Christmas style or play around with 'Happy New Year' decorations to celebrate their new beginning. Or create a holiday-themed virtual background for video calls during the onboarding process.

2. Festive treasures: Make personalized welcome gifts for your new employee

Welcome your new hires with personalized gifts. This can be simple and holiday-themed, like a customized ornament with their name, a small gift basket filled with holiday treats, or a champagne bottle for New Year's Eve.

Welcome gifts not only enhance the festive atmosphere but also create a positive first impression. These tokens of appreciation make new employees feel valued, appreciated, and special from the very beginning and demonstrate the company's care for its team members. The personalized gifts help new hires feel at ease and enthusiastic about joining the team, providing them with a lasting memory of their first day – something they may even choose to share on social media.

Last-minute suggestion: Offer personalized virtual greetings - if your team is working remotely or if some employees are unable to be physically present during this time, consider sending personalized virtual greeting cards or messages to everyone, including the new hires.

3. Christmas cheer: Share company traditions

Last Christmas... your new hires weren't part of the company yet, so it's important to remember that you need to inform them about your company's holiday traditions. Do they know their holiday schedule, including which days they have off? Have you communicated what is expected of them during Christmas and New Year activities? How about the work pressure during this season and in the beginning of the new year?

It's essential to ensure that your new hires are well-informed about the company's customs and practices during this festive time. Providing clear communication regarding days off during the holiday season is crucial for planning personal celebrations and downtime. At the same time, giving information about all the informal activities and work pressure is important for reducing work-related stress.

Last-minute suggestion: Add a dedicated section in your digital onboarding platform that informs your new hires about upcoming holidays, as well as the year-end and New Year festivities. Also, make sure to include these activities in the agendas of your new hires.

4. Frosty fun: Include your new hires in team activities

Does your company have particular activities planned during the holiday season? Whether it's decorating the office, a special kind of holiday lunch, drinks or dinner, or a specific year-end closing ceremony, make sure you introduce and involve new hires in these events. Even if they are not officially starting this year. It helps them connect with the existing team and feel more integrated into the office culture.

Participation in collective activities aids in fostering closer relationships and a sense of belonging among team members. These lively and engaging events provide a wonderful platform for new hires to socialize with their peers, helping them understand their colleagues' personalities and work styles in an informal, stress-free context. Furthermore, these activities can also create an environment where teamwork, collaboration, and mutual respect can naturally grow. 

Last-minute suggestion: Ask new hires to share their favorite holiday songs for a collaborative playlist or organize a virtual team-building activity with holiday-themed games like a Kahoot quiz.

5. Christmas spirit: Encourage employee work-life balance

Remember that this is a time when employees want to spend time with their loved ones. So don’t forget to give your new hires flexibility in their schedules, if possible. This way, they can balance work obligations while still enjoying the holiday season with their families.

This will further showcase your company's understanding and empathetic side. Allowing flexible schedules can help in reducing the stress associated with starting a new job and managing holiday commitments. It also communicates the company's value of work-life balance. 

Ensuring that new hires are not weighed down by work during the festive season can cultivate a positive work experience from the very beginning and make them feel valued as individuals, not just as employees. This will contribute significantly to employee morale, job satisfaction, and overall productivity.

Last-minute suggestion: Offer (extra) remote work options during the holiday season, allowing new hires to have the flexibility to work from home or spend time with their loved ones.

6. Santa's helpers: Introduce a buddy program

Introduce your new hires to a mentor or 'buddy' who can support them throughout their onboarding process. During the holiday season, this 'buddy' could also guide them around the festive activities and traditions that take place in the company.

Amidst the holiday buzz, it is often easy to overlook that the new employee is struggling. So while everyone deserves a Christmas break, it is also important to always have someone around your new employee. Therefore, you might want to extend your mentorship program to include a couple of people, especially because a lot of team members will be on holiday leave. From answering questions about their role to pointing out where the restrooms are, your new hires will feel well-supported if they have a point of contact to turn to.

Taking such steps not only helps the new team members settle faster but also lays the foundation for strong, open communication within your team.

[.callout-small]Read more about the tricks of onboarding during vacation time.[.callout-small]

Last-minute suggestion: Find out which colleagues will be around during the festive season and ask them to be a "holiday buddy" for your new hire, so they have someone to lean on and get support from.

7. Winter Wonderland: Create holiday-themed onboarding materials

Providing holiday-themed onboarding materials is a creative approach to familiarize new hires with your company. By adding a holiday twist to your materials, you're not just throwing loads of information on fresh hires, rather you are presenting the necessary details more enjoyably and engagingly. This approach allows new hires to learn and experience the company culture simultaneously with a touch of holiday cheer, making the learning process less tedious and more memorable.

As an example, you can consider running festive training modules or workshops set in a holiday theme. For instance, a '12 days of learning' advent program (or countdown to the new year) could be designed to cover different aspects of the company's operations each day in a light and engaging manner, like opening an advent calendar and finding something new every day.

Last-minute suggestion: Add some festive graphics to your (online) presentations or digital platform, or host a virtual holiday-themed meet and greet session for new hires.

8. Season's greetings: Have regular check-ins

Maintain regular check-ins with your new hires. The excitement of the holiday season coupled with starting a new job can be overwhelming. Regular check-ins provide an opportunity to ensure that new employees are comfortable, offer support, and answer any questions they might have.

These check-ins can be informal and kept simple. They serve as a platform for open and honest communication where the new hires can express their thoughts, feelings, and any potential challenges they might be facing. By providing this open channel of communication, you show your employees that their well-being and concerns matter to the company. 

Last-minute suggestion: If meeting in person is challenging during the busy Christmas season, consider using video check-ins to foster a more personal connection. Alternatively, create a virtual "water cooler" room or channel where new team members can connect with their colleagues and enjoy casual conversations.

9. Christmas wishes: Encourage input

Allow new hires to contribute their ideas for holiday season activities. It's a great way to involve them, let them showcase their creativity, and make them feel part of the team. This also gives them a sense of ownership and can improve engagement. However, don’t force it too much, this has to be a fun activity for everyone. Perhaps you want to digitalize and anonymize the experience by using an onboarding platform to collect the input.

[.callout-small]Learn more about the ways you can incorporate check-back into your onboarding strategy.[.callout-small]

Moreover, encouraging new hires to share traditions or practices that they have enjoyed at their previous workplaces can be beneficial for the company. This not only makes them feel valued, but it could also potentially introduce fresh and fun concepts that can be incorporated into your company's holiday traditions. Creating a welcoming space for new ideas and traditions can also promote diversity and inclusivity within your team, adding to the overall cultural richness of the office.

Last-minute suggestion: How about adding an additional question to your digital onboarding platform, where you ask your new hires about their holiday plans, activities they'd like to see in your company, or their New Year's resolutions?

[.callout-small] Did you know that our app offers the opportunity to request feedback during the onboarding process? Explore our platform to learn more![.callout-small]

Finally, onboarding should be fun, and especially during holidays, you shouldn't lose the Christmas cheer! We wish you an enjoyable onboarding journey and a merry holiday season. Good luck!

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