It might not be your first instinct. When a new person suddenly enters your workplace, it can change the social dynamic and put people on edge. But it can also be an amazing opportunity for new ideas, new energy and even a new friend. Though your natural response to a new coworker might be defensiveness, competitiveness and dominance, it will soothe your own heart and make their experience ten times better if you welcome them with intention.
15 ways to make your colleague feel welcome
These 15 tips aren’t difficult or showy. And they won’t affect your own work standing or job output. In fact, welcoming your coworker just might make you feel better, work better and appear like more of a team player. Resolving to be a kind and welcoming coworker just might be the choice that gets you noticed and gets you one step closer to your own goals.
1) Ask questions.
Whenever I enter a new workplace, I find that some of the most awkward situations actually come up months into the job — when my coworkers realize that they never asked any questions about me, so they don’t know key aspects of my life. Asking simple questions, like “Where did you work before you came here?” and “Where did you grow up?” can go a long way towards building relationships and making everyone comfortable.
If you’re not formally introduced, but happen to spot a new colleague at her desk or in the hallway, be sure to go up to her, shake her hand and welcome her to the team. Then you won’t be stuck in haven’t-quite-met-yet awkward social purgatory.
3) Leave a note.
If you won’t be in the office on your colleague’s first day, leave a short note/card on her desk. It can say something as simple as “Welcome! So glad you’re here!” to let her know that her colleagues are excited to meet her.
4) Give her a tour of the workplace.
If a tour isn’t written into her first-week schedule, your colleague might be a little lost. Take 10 minutes to walk her around the building. Show her where the best bathrooms are. Teach her how to use the copier. She’ll thank you.
5) Don’t gossip.
Gossip is the ultimate way to fast-track your colleague into distrust and discomfort. It’s her first few days — you don’t need to give her all the dirty details of everyone’s social lives just yet. Plus, if you’re talking about other people, she’ll know immediately that you will, someday, talk about her.
6) Try not to complain.
Nothing is more unpleasant than coworkers who complain constantly about the workplaces, especially when you’re just starting out and still have a positive attitude. Don’t ruin her outlook just because you hate your job.
7) Loop her in.
Are you sending a silly email to your work friends, sending out an invite for happy hour or reminding people about the free cookies in the break room? CC the new person. This is incredibly easy and will make her feel like a part of the team.
8) Check in about her work logistics.
Is she paying for parking or taking the bus? Is there a carpool group she could join, or a secret low-cost parking option? Has anyone told her that she gets a 15-minute break each day? Check in with your new colleague to make sure she’s taking full advantage of all the job perks and opportunities. It won’t take much to get her up to speed and feeling more confident in the office.
9) Say “Thank you.”
It feels good to be appreciated. If you want to set the standard for a warm, welcoming, appreciative office culture, you can start by treating new colleagues exactly the way you would want to be treated. Friendly emails, smiles, thank yous and pleases are simple gesture that go a long way towards a culture of kindness and mutual support.
10) Ask about something in her office, cube or on her desk.
If your new colleague brought photographs, plants, a calendar or other mementos to decorate her new workspace, be sure to ask her about them. You’ll learn new things about her and show her that you’re interested in her life.
11) Compliment her on something…besides her appearance.
It can feel like an easy and friendly gesture to tell your new coworker that her dress is super cute or her haircut is great. But it will make her feel even more seen, known and appreciated if you can find something unique to notice about her. Does she always have energy in the morning? Is she awesome at motivating others, organizing calendars or writing? If you can focus your compliments on her personhood, rather than her physical appearance, you can help build up her real confidence, rather than making her even more aware of how she looks.
12) Invite her to eat lunch with you.
If you and your work friends have a consistent time and place that you eat lunch, let your colleague know. That way, she won’t be shyly having Sad Desk Lunch on her first day.
13) Read her resume.
If you can, try to find out about what she did before joining your team. This will not only help you make conversation with her, but it will also signal to her that you respect her previous experience and are excited to have her as a colleague.
14) Take her out for coffee.
This is not only a great opportunity to show her where to get the best coffee near the office, but it will give you a chance to ask questions, learn about your new colleague and get her out of that brand-new work environment, which can be a little stressful at first.
15) Share your desk snacks.