Chauffeur-driven cars to treasure hunts: Day one at work was never so exciting in India

Youngsters with fire in the belly
Youngsters with fire in the belly
Image: Reuters/Stringer
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The first of any kind charms like none of what follows. The first ball of the first over of a cricket match, the first day-first show of a movie, the first date. And, of course, the first day at work.

Irrespective of how many jobs you have changed, day one at a new workplace sets off a swarm of butterflies in the belly.

Future prospects, new relationships, talent and skills being put to test, fear of failure, or merely the novelty of it all—any or all of this or more, could spark a mix of anxiety and anticipation in fresh recruits. Thus, it is imperative that they are put at ease. This could be key to not just their productivity but also their loyalty.

So, companies are increasingly striving to make day one an unforgettable experience—in a good way, that is. A number of Indian startups, in particular, have instituted some unique ways to welcome and integrate employees. Joining kits are getting fancier. Along with the basics like laptops, companies are also giving out t-shirts, mugs, stationery, and other merchandise. Some companies get bouquets delivered to the new recruits.

Quartz spoke in this regard to a few firms, which, according to LinkedIn, are among the most sought-after workplaces in the country.

Of warriors and chauffeur-driven cars

Flipkart, which tops the list of LinkedIn’s Top Companies in India in 2017, sends out chauffeur-driven cars to pick up employees on their first day. Once in office, it sends them on a treasure hunt, helping them get familiarised with the place.

Branded hotels company OYO Rooms, too, has put in place a set of unique practices. New employees are given specific titles as per the region they are joining in. These titles are then used to introduce them to the rest of the team, says Dinesh R, the company’s chief human resources officer. For instance, offices in south India call their new employees “Spartans,” while some others might call their new employees “Warriors,” according to Dinesh. After this, all employees get to meet the leadership team and most other members of the company. “…the world knows about them, everybody sends out greetings to them on mail, photographs are pasted, and there is a lot of excitement on Day 1,” Dinesh says.

At Paytm, another of India’s hot startups, the engagement with new employees happens even before the person comes on board. Right through the hiring process, the communication with the prospective employee manages expectation-setting. “All that is a precursor to what the person can expect or look forward to when he or she becomes part of the Paytm family,” says Manav Jain, associate vice-president of Paytm. Post-induction, he or she undergoes orientation vis a vis the company’s values and processes. While there is no uniform company-wide policy in this regard, Paytm empowers team managers to handle all this.

Food delivery startup Swiggy, too, goes beyond just day one to make its onboarding process special. “To help employees ease into the new work environment, we ensure the time spent on the joining formalities is minimal with most of the documents being made available online,” says Girish Menon, vice-president of HR at Swiggy. Employees are handed a “First-day survival kit,” which, apart from a welcome note and other company details, contains snacks and other goodies. Swiggy is working on a “buddy connect program” that helps employees breeze through their first day, he added. “As an extension to our induction program, we ensure all new hires partake in the Customer Connect program that offers an on-the-floor experience…The entire onboarding program aims at lowering new organisation anxiety,” Menon said.

Some firms arrange dinners with the senior leadership so that the prospective employees get a better understanding of the role from around the informal table, said Alka Dhingra, assistant general managers of staffing firm TeamLease Services. Sometimes, they are invited to events or office parties. “The agenda is to involve them in their organisation (even) before the joining, to increase interest levels of the employee,” Dhingra said.

However, experts also say that companies must guard against overdoing things. “If you go overboard, you are kind of creating huge expectations in the mind of the new joinee…after a week, reality will bite,” warns Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO of CIEL HR Services, a Bangalore-based firm.

Love at first sight has its pitfalls after all.