By Kanishka Ratnayake
November 18, 2017
A Leaf from DAY 1 @ Philanthropy University: Welcome
Each organization has it’s own ways of welcoming a new team member on DAY ONE. For some it means a round of handshakes coupled with an intensive onboarding.or others, it calls for celebration. For us here at Philanthropy University, it is the middle path.There are certain peculiar characteristics unique to us (“Welcome to the Town”). Time and time again, we get to demonstrate our “welcoming gestures” when we hire a new staff. The team goes through the full circle of induction to celebrations in one go. Joining Philanthropy University means you are not part of a “family” but coming to reside in a “town”. You will get to read more about the town culture if you read the article “Are we family?” written by our CEO, Connor Diemand-Yauman.
Foremost, we warm up the new team member even prior to the first day in office. Each team member personally takes the time to send a welcome note via an email or a Slack message. My favorite message is the team email welcoming featuring a dance giphy of Kevin Bacon from the movie “Footloose”.
Upon arrival on day one the first thing the new member discovers is a sticky note “Welcome X” posted to the intercom outside the building where one enters the security code to access the building. Passing through this cordial gesture, the new hire will enter to a world of more surprises in store. They will stumble upon the second welcome note mounted onto an easel at the entrance to the office. The workstation area is decorated with a DIY attempt of hacking a balloon with funny captions. Some of the past messages included “It’s a boy’s first day!”, “Let us be thankful”, “Thank you for joining us”, and “Happy First day!”. The welcome balloon comes with a bouquet of flowers from the flower stand across the street.
Then the team will gather (our way of a fireside chat) around the sofa and hammock for a round of introductions while sipping a hot cup of tea. The conversations can take different forms and shapes including Disney movies, healthy living, geography, arts, and culture. Afterwards, everyone will come together to what is in my opinion the best induction and teambuilding activity orchestrated by any nonprofit in the bay area. This one is my favorite aspect of the onboarding. Similarly, it is a rite of passage of any new team member at Philanthropy university as well as a fine way to bring together the ambidextrous bunch of humans at our company. We call it Building the desk and chair (In case for those of you are wondering are we carpenters too? NO! the furniture is IKEA and they are meant to be assembled).
The celebrations continues to the mid-day as the team take their mid-day break for lunch at a restaurant sponsored by the company. In the past, our gastronomical escapades have included Thai, Afghan, Senegalese, Burmese, and Vietnamese food.
The rest of the afternoon, the new hire will take part in one to one walking syncs with program leads to get to know them personally and peek into their work. Mostly these syncs take place on foot around the block. It is another good way to introduce the new member to the neighbourhood and its unique gems. After a full day of living in the town, when it times to go home, our colleague walks out of the office to a round of applause and a standing ovation cheering “You made it, day one!!!. This is how we do it at Philanthropy University. I am curious to hear what are some of your rituals at your organizations by leaving a comment below.