Is swag for new employees necessary?

Story time. Let’s pretend that you’ve hired someone new and kicked off the onboarding process. You got all required forms done ahead of time using your paperless onboarding platform, introduced them to their hiring manager, and now they’re set to start. Your hire wakes up a little earlier than usual, pops on their “new job” outfit, nervously fidgets through traffic and arrives at the office on time. Someone greets them at the door, walks them to their workstation, and they see…

A) Nothing but dust bunnies and tumbleweeds
B) A computer, functioning software and tools, a notebook and some pens
C) Christmas morning- company swag style

We all know that seeing dust bunnies and tumbleweeds isn’t the greatest first impression. At the bare minimum make sure the desk is clean. But – as an employer looking to hire and retain top talent – which of the remaining options is going to create the best impression? Is it worth breaking the bank for new hire swag, or is it ok to keep it simple?

I, for one, am not ashamed to say that I love company swag. I’m human, and free things make me happy. As a new hire, I’d be thrilled to come into work day one, throw on my shiny new branded sweatshirt and drink coffee out of my logoed mug. But what’s the ROI for me – and the company I just started working for – in the long run?

Absolutely nothing.

It helps give a quick mental and emotional boost – which can help foster a sense of temporary belonging and excitement. But presents in lieu of functioning tools and the appropriate setup is marginally better than the dust bunnies. And you know what? If your hire’s an introvert who doesn’t like to be the center of attention, then the dust bunnies might actually be preferred.

So let’s take a look at the modest workstation. There’s no extra fluff, clutter, pomp or circumstance that draws unnecessary attention to their “newness”. It has a computer that’s setup, and the materials they need to dig in and start working right away. It might seem a little bland, but it subtly sets the tone for their experience with the organization.

Employees that are given the tools and materials they need to do their jobs appropriately during the onboarding process are more engaged and more productive than their counterparts. As a new hire, walking in to see a clean and functioning workstation tells them that the organization cares, and is willing to help them succeed.

If you still want to do something special for your new hires – that’s perfectly fine! I just have one piece of advice. If you have the spare time and budget, get the team together for coffee or some easy icebreakers. Taking the time to interact with coworkers will do more for your hire than having them sit alone with a sweet new branded gift basket.

Engaging Experiences