Work Culture

Chauffeur-driven cars to treasure hunts: Companies are giving new employees a first day to remember

A number of Indian startups have instituted some unique ways to welcome and integrate employees.

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, said 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 said.

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,” said 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,” said 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.

This article first appeared on Quartz

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Tracing the formation of Al Qaeda and its path to 9/11

A new show looks at some of the crucial moments leading up to the attack.

“The end of the world war had bought America victory but not security” - this quote from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, ‘The Looming Tower’, gives a sense of the growing threat to America from Al Qaeda and the series of events that led to 9/11. Based on extensive interviews, including with Bin Laden’s best friend in college and the former White House counterterrorism chief, ‘The Looming Tower’ provides an intimate perspective of the 9/11 attack.

Lawrence Wright chronicles the formative years of Al Qaeda, giving an insight in to Bin Laden’s war against America. The book covers in detail, the radicalisation of Osama Bin Laden and his association with Ayman Al Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who preached that only violence could change history. In an interview with Amazon, Wright shared, “I talked to 600-something people, but many of those people I talked to again and again for a period of five years, some of them dozens of times.” Wright’s book was selected by TIME as one of the all-time 100 best nonfiction books for its “thoroughly researched and incisively written” account of the road to 9/11 and is considered an essential read for understanding Islam’s war on the West as it developed in the Middle East.

‘The Looming Tower’ also dwells on the response of key US officials to the rising Al Qaeda threat, particularly exploring the turf wars between the FBI and the CIA. This has now been dramatized in a 10-part mini-series of the same name. Adapted by Dan Futterman (of Foxcatcher fame), the series mainly focuses on the hostilities between the FBI and the CIA. Some major characters are based on real people - such as John O’ Neill (FBI’s foul-mouthed counterterrorism chief played by Jeff Daniels) and Ali Soufan (O’ Neill’s Arabic-speaking mentee who successfully interrogated captured Islamic terrorists after 9/11, played by Tahar Rahim). Some are composite characters, such as Martin Schmidt (O’Neill’s CIA counterpart, played by Peter Sarsgaard).

The series, most crucially, captures just how close US intelligence agencies had come to foiling Al Qaeda’s plans, just to come up short due to internal turf wars. It follows the FBI and the CIA as they independently follow intelligence leads in the crises leading up to 9/11 – the US Embassy bombings in East Africa and the attack on US warship USS Cole in Yemen – but fail to update each other. The most glaring example is of how the CIA withheld critical information – Al Qaeda operatives being hunted by the FBI had entered the United States - under the misguided notion that the CIA was the only government agency authorised to deal with terrorism threats.

The depth of information in the book has translated into a realistic recreation of the pre-9/11 years on screen. The drama is even interspersed with actual footage from the 9/11 conspiracy, attack and the 2004 Commission Hearing, linking together the myriad developments leading up to 9/11 with chilling hindsight. Watch the trailer of this gripping show below.


The Looming Tower is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, along with a host of Amazon originals and popular movies and TV shows. To enjoy unlimited ad free streaming anytime, anywhere, subscribe to Amazon Prime Video.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon Prime Video and not by the Scroll editorial team.