Unfamiliar settings and situations are enough to make anyone feel intimidated, anxious or overwhelmed. When that situation is the first week at a new job, the stress-level skyrockets. There are co-workers to meet, superiors to impress, orientations to attend, HR handbooks to read and a company culture to learn.

It’s a hectic adjustment period, both for the new hires and the management team charged with helping them acclimate into their positions.

While the first week on-the-job will run into a few curveballs, it’s also a great opportunity to establish a strong, positive connection with these new employees while reducing their new-job jitters.

The creative ideas below are sure to help new hires feel welcome and excited about their new position.

Take them individually to lunch

The impact of one-on-one face time between an employer and the staff members can’t be underestimated. Managers have a considerable impact on staff productivity and morale; getting that relationship right at the start can go a long way to support this. This is especially true with new employees who are learning about their superiors, what makes them tick, and how to impress them.

fun ways to welcome new employees managers

Taking new employees out to lunch also shows that you’re a team, not just an office full of bodies doing work. This also gives you a chance to debrief them on the company they’ve just joined, and build the foundations of an interpersonal professional relationship. The more informal atmosphere is a great opportunity for your new hire to ask questions and to defuse first day nerves.

“Your new hire is ‘unconsciously incompetent’ – they don’t know what they don’t know,” says Swati Srivastava manager at Recruit Loop.

“They don’t know any of the team or the many different personalities that make it up; they haven’t been exposed to any of the internal jargon or lingo; they have no idea how you do things around here. They are literally completely unaware.”

Putting a lunch date in the diary can help fill in some of these gaps, and get your new hire off to the right start.

Send them on a scavenger hunt

This ice-breaking activity forces new hires to make introductions with existing staff members and ask for their help with various clues. If your business is onboarding several employees at the same time, you can even pair them off to solve the scavenger hunt together, encouraging team-bonding and reducing that stress that comes with being “the new person.”

As they race around to various departments in search of the items on their list, new hires will become more acquainted with the office layout and the people whom they’ll be working with.

Alternatively, organize a virtual scavenger hunt via your company intranet. Offer clues that can be found on individual’s profiles or get your new hires to seek out information hidden in forums, groups or discussions. This kills two birds with one stone: new starters will build connections and learn more about their peers, and will also familiarize themselves with a vital business tool. This option is ideal for organizations with multiple locations and large knowledge assets, or those onboarding remote employees.

intranet managers mhs homes

(Interact customer MHS Homes created a scavenger hunt based on its intranet People Directory as part of a launch campaign for their new intranet. This approach would be easy to replicate for new starters, and offers an interactive and fun way for them to learn more about their colleagues.)

Organize a party in their honor

There’s nothing more thoughtful than initiating new hires onto your team with a surprise party thrown just for them. A low-pressure, informal gathering to socialize with their co-workers before jumping into the responsibilities of their position can help new employees get excited about the job and the people they’re working with.

You can even make this an ongoing tradition to be repeated on a quarterly basis. To reduce costs—because employee parties can get expensive fast—keep the supplies and decorations. In a summer party survey, 18 percent of respondents said they save their decorations to reduce costs for future parties. As you stock up on regular, themed and holiday decorations, you’ll have plenty to choose from for each party.

Assign them a company mentor

A survey conducted by Google found that 88 percent of employees who are given active roles in collaboration and knowledge-sharing report high job satisfaction, according to Entrepreneur.

Involve your current staff in the process of assimilating new hires by implementing a mentorship system between veteran and rookie team members. The more experienced person can offer guidance, support and insight on how the office functions, while both parties can benefit from the relational connection.

fun ways to welcome new employees mentoring

What’s more, the benefits of a mentoring program extend beyond the first week to deliver continual value for both employee and business – including a positive impact on the employee experience and retention rates, productivity, and morale.

Leave a gift on their new desk

Receiving a gift on you first day makes you feel noticed and cared about, particularly in the midst of unfamiliar surroundings. Even just a small token or handwritten note can diffuse the tension for new hires.

Consider taking it one step further with a personalized gift that reflects company culture, emphasizing they’re place within the organization. For instance, GUILD Media Solutions, a creative marketing firm, gives their new hires an “Essentials Box” with a branded coffee mug and practical office gadgets.

fun ways to welcome new employees gift

This can be a quirky way to give insight into your company culture and values, as well as building up your internal brand. The gesture is small, but can go a long way to getting your recruit feeling motivated and excited about their new job.

The transition period into a new role can be stressful and challenging, but the first week can still be a positive experience. As you navigate the onboarding process with the most recent batch of recruits, use these ideas to alleviate their stress, making them feel comfortable and valued. This intentional behavior fosters a strong workplace dynamic that will benefit the entire team.