How can a welcome kit improve your onboarding process?

Every effective leader knows that, to build high-performing teams, you need good team members. And part of attracting the best people to your company is quite simply: what do you offer them?

Of course, the main things any prospective employees will be considering are what the job entails, what their salary will be, and what benefits you offer. But in recent years, we’ve seen a growing trend of offering attractive welcome kits as part of the onboarding process.

The best of these tick several boxes:

  • Making new employees feel welcome.
  • Giving them an insight into the company’s culture and values.
  • Easing integration into the team and wider business if working remotely.

So how exactly can you put together a welcome kit which achieves all this? And how does it fit into the onboarding process as a whole?

Setting the tone

Most people don’t join a company just for the perks, but a good welcome kit certainly eases the transition. Receiving a branded notebook on your first day at a new job is just a small thing, but it can make you feel more included, and foster a sense of affiliation with the business.

Of course, getting a swag bag is also just fun! It lets you know that you’re welcome, that your new employer went to some trouble for you. This sets a positive, friendly tone from day one.

Senior Product Marketing Manager Danielle Delahunty-James shared a picture of the swag she received on joining Paddle: a branded set of t-shirt, zip-up jacket, pen, patch, notebook, socks and insulated coffee mug. The company raised $200m in Series D funding round around the time Danielle started there. Clearly, they’re attracting and retaining some top-notch talent.

Setting a positive tone with your welcome kit can be especially helpful if your new employees will be working remotely. It can feel isolating to start a new job. Someone taking the time to send you some fun items makes you feel more like a part of the team even if you’re in a different place. Some kits are even designed specifically for home office setups.

A Black woman in a wheelchair sits at a desk in front of a monitor, wearing a headset and holding a drink

Providing useful equipment

Whatfix provided new Solution Engineer Intern Riya Srivastava with a joining kit including a backpack, water bottle, insulated coffee cup, notebook, clothes… and a MacBook Pro! This is a good example of how a welcome kit can be about more than just creating a friendly atmosphere. It can also be about getting people the equipment they need to perform well, rather than assuming they have it.

This doesn’t only apply when people are working from home. Including some equipment in your welcome kits can meaningfully contribute to your D&I practices. For example, providing noise-cancelling headphones can help neurodivergent people who need a lower-stimulation environment when trying to focus on work.

Giving an insight into the culture

So, your welcome kit is primarily intended to make people feel welcome. It can also have practical benefits like giving people equipment they’ll need. But what you choose to include will also tell your new employee a bit about the company they’ve just joined. What’s important to you? How do you want your new starters to view you? If sustainability is a core value at your company, for example, then you can convey that via a welcome kit stocked with eco-friendly goodies.

Providing books is one of the most direct ways to do this. It can give a really meaningful insight into the guiding principles of your business.

Snyk’s new Head of Social Impact, Victoria Hay Lindahl, was greeted with a welcome package including a branded notebook, water bottle, clothes, and even a Rubik’s cube, plus a copy of the book The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. The inclusion of this book sends a clear message: Snyk is a global company which cares about diversity of thought and background, and creating harmony across cultural boundaries.

YuLife’s onboarding welcome package, as shared by Senior Engineer Terry Novis, includes a mini library of books. Even just looking at the titles gives a strong insight into the culture of the company, and the values underpinning its leadership. For instance, there are a couple of books by Patrick Lencioni who – as YuLife co-founder and COO Sam Fromson explained during his LinkedIn Live conversation with us – is one of the key influences behind the approach of the leadership team.

Including some interesting reading materials in your welcome kit has one other big advantage: it introduces the idea that your business values learning and growth. It’s a simple way to let your new employees know that, while they’ll be focused on learning their roles for now, your company cares about their ongoing upskilling and development.

If you offer access to coaching, this is also a great time to let your new hires know. Doing this sends a clear signal that you value your employees, new and established, and are investing in their ongoing growth and development.

A woman sits in a chair beside some plants, holding a reusable coffee mug and smiling as she reads a book

Beyond the welcome kit

For any new employee, it will take them a while to reach full productivity. And when it comes to helping them adjust, there’s only so much a welcome kit can do – you’ll need to think longer-term about your onboarding practices.

We love Virti’s idea of assigning new hires an “onboarding buddy”. It gives new employees a person they can comfortably go to with questions, a direct insight into company culture and communication styles, and a way to ease into the social side of the office. As an added bonus, being an onboarding buddy can be a great way to start developing management and mentorship skills.

It’s important that you follow through on anything promised or suggested during onboarding. If your welcome kit contains a book about psychological safety, but you’re putting in the work to maintain a psychologically safe atmosphere at work, new hires will quickly notice this discrepancy. If you have an eco-friendly welcome kit but poor sustainability practices in the workplace, they’ll know you were just virtue signalling. Of course, these aren’t the feelings you want to inspire in your employees…

Finally, be sure to collect feedback from new employees while the onboarding process is still fresh in their minds. What was helpful? What could have been better? Listening to their feedback will not only help future new starters, but will also show that you value their insights – which will help improve employee loyalty and retention down the line.