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Lessons Learned

Why This Tech Company Starts New Hires On Fridays (And Why You Should, Too)

Common sense meets culture at tech startup Spredfast's onboarding process.

[Photo: Flickr user Joris Louwes]

If it seems like everyone is grumpier at the beginning of the workweek, it might not be your imagination. Mondays are tough even when you like your job, and a new report published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that negativity can be as contagious among coworkers as any illness.

Starting a new job on a Monday just might add to the day’s stress, and that’s why an Austin-based tech company decided to flip the hiring process and start all new employees on a Friday.

"People are running around trying to get caught up from the weekend," says Sam Baber, vice president of talent and development for the social media marketing agency Spredfast. "When you’re starting someone new at your company, you want an atmosphere with less chaos."

Baber has worked in human resources for 18 years, and he introduced the Friday-start-day concept when he joined Spredfast two years ago. Since then, the company has grown from 100 employees to more than 500, and all of its new hires–-from C-suite to entry level-–start on Fridays in a group orientation. As a result, several positive things have happened, says Baber.

The Existing Team Is Less Stressed

People are in better moods on Fridays, which makes the onboarding process much smoother, says Baber. "On Mondays, managers have less patience," he says. "On Fridays, there’s less running around or showing up late."

As a result, new hires have a better impression and experience with existing employees and managers. It becomes a relaxed day to fill out paperwork, and get acclimated to company policies.

New Hires Come In Fresh

When someone starts a new job on Monday, they typically finish their old job the Friday before, giving themselves just 48 hours to transition, says Baber. But when someone starts on a Friday, they’ve often taken off Monday through Thursday.

"We want to try to force their hand to take a break between jobs," he says. "That way they come in fresh instead of struggling with that brief period of downtime between jobs."

They Leave More Motivated

It’s Spredfast’s goal to have new hires leaving on Friday more motivated than when they signed the offer, says Baber. "When they go out that weekend and people ask about their new job, they can instantly explain who we are and what we do, and the excitement of having a new job will feel fresh," he says. "This energy is also helpful because we offer an incentive referral bonus."

The Process Builds Cross-Functional Relationships

Because new hires come from a variety of functions, onboarding in small groups in a relaxed setting helps eliminate silos in the company. "People get to know the people and not just the roles," says Baber.

It Represents Company Culture

Spredfast helps its clients, which include Pepsi, Bank of America, and General Mills, connect with customers through social media and is a relationship-driven company. Starting new hires on Friday fits the company’s culture and mission.

"We want our team to have ongoing relationships with the people they meet during their orientation," says Baber. "We think it helps make them successful. For us, it’s all about fostering community from day one."

Spredfast’s long-term goal is employee retention, and Baber believes that feeling like part of a team is an important part of the experience. "You’ve got to get day one and the first 90 days right from a culture perspective in order to see a higher level of employee engagement," he says. "Starting new employees on Friday is unique, but it’s so common-sense. Hiring is all about community and collaboration, and that should trickle down into everything you roll out, including the start date."

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