Healthy Workforce

Smoothing the Way for New Hires

How to get them off to a great start

Two nurses hugging in scrubs, with a "Welcome" sign and balloons in the background

Here’s the fourth in our series of culture of caring initiatives that can help transform your workplace culture from one of unkindness to one of compassion, professionalism and mutual respect.

Bad Behavior: Hostility towards new employees
Culture of Caring Solution: Protect and care for them

While we might roll our eyes at the familiar dictum “Nurses eat their young,” it’s true more often than not. Newcomers, especially less experienced nurses, are frequently treated like an imposition and an inconvenience — if they’re not subjected to hazing as soon as they walk in the door.

An important step in changing that sad reality and building a workplace culture where bullying and incivility are simply not tolerated is making new arrivals feel welcome and supported from before day one.

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Here are two easy tips for doing that:

Call New Employees BEFORE They Start

Having the supervisor or preceptor call new hires about a week before their start date is a great de-stressor. Welcome them to the unit and let them know you’re excited to work with them (or to be their preceptor). Ask if they have any questions and if there is anything you can do to help.

Celebrate Their First Day on the Unit

Studies show that the way a person feels on their first day at work sets the tone for the rest of their time there. So, make each newcomer’s first day a great one: Greet them with a smile, welcome them with a sign or a card signed by the whole staff, and FEED THEM. (Seriously, food is a HUGE satisfier, and getting to share a cake or other treats will brighten everyone’s mood.)

Hiring Now

Welcoming new employees to your unit or department shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should be a joyous occasion, filled with hope, excitement and optimism, much like graduation day in reverse. Celebrate your new people — don’t eat them, and don’t let anyone else eat them either!

Changing a culture doesn’t happen overnight, and nurses can be stubbornly resistant to change. However, instead of seeing the new hire as a bother or an initiate to be hazed, think of them as an an ally who will share the patient load and add joy to the workday.

RENEE THOMPSON, RN, DNP, CMSRN, is the CEO and founder of the Healthy Workforce Institute. As a speaker, author and consultant, her goal is to eradicate nurse bullying and incivility.


JASMIN MORA is a Los Angeles-based illustrator. Reach her at

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