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Making People Feel Welcome

This past week I spent two days teaching a letter writing class for a large Seattle-area company. Both days the company made me feel welcome and important from the moment I drove into the parking lot.

Can you guess how they welcomed me in the parking lot?

No, not with balloons. They reserved a parking space for me–with my name on it.

"This spot reserved for Lynn Gaertner-Johnston," the sign said. But to me, it said much more. It told me that the company valued me and my work. The message becomes even more powerful when you consider that I am a vendor–someone arriving at their company to perform a service. I was not a visiting dignitary, yet I felt that way when I saw the sign.

That welcoming gesture in the parking lot made me think about how we welcome people at work. How do we communicate a feeling of welcome and importance to others through our writing?

One obvious way is to send out welcome announcements, messages that introduce new employees and encourage everyone to welcome them. Here is an example:

Welcome Pia Nielsen to Sales

I am pleased to announce that Pia Nielsen joins the Sales group as a sales assistant on Monday, April 11. Her role is to help us produce outstanding proposals, presentations, web demos, and related materials and events. She reports to Stephanie Burke.

Pia's experience is a terrific fit for the job. She comes to us from XYZ Company, where she worked first in retail sales and then as a store event coordinator. Before working fulltime, she earned her bachelor's degree in business from the University of Washington. She loves to kayak, hike, and take nature photographs. She did all three on a recent trip to Maui. 

If you are at headquarters, stop by Pia's desk on the 4th floor and introduce yourself. You can also reach her at Ext. 20203 and

Bill Richards
Director of Sales

People who read the message will learn a lot: who Pia is, what her role in sales will be, when she starts, whom she reports to, why she was hired, who she is outside work, and how she can be reached. They will also learn that the director wants her to be welcomed.

When Pia reads it, she will learn how important she is to Sales.

Have you ever been welcomed with such an announcement or gesture on the job? Or have you wished you had been?

I welcome your experiences and views on welcoming.

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

10 comments on “Making People Feel Welcome”

  • This is excellent advice, but unfortunately is rarely followed. Businesses could also follow similar advice to show their appreciation when someone moves on to a new role by using a similar style message.

  • Hi,Tim. I agree. Sometimes goodbye messages are not written because the circumstances of a person’s departure are confidential or embarrassing. But otherwise, both welcome and well-wishing messages spread positive feelings and make everyone feel included.


  • My company always welcomes new employees, even summer interns, with an announcing email, although with less information included. When an employee leaves or retires, the employee often sends a good-bye message – usually stating what a good experience it was to work here.

  • My company also sends emails when an employee starts or leaves – or gets a promotion – which is a nice way of keeping the company feeling small even if it’s not. However, one time there was a promotion that wasn’t mentioned because other people were being laid off. Although the board wanted to avoid uncomfortable feelings, I think this was worse because it seemed secretive. If there’s a policy in place to announce these things, they should be consistent.

  • Interestingly I was talking to someone where I have been doing regularly weekly contract work for a year today and they noted that they had no idea what certain people did in the organisation and this person was a senior manager!
    I think this is symptomatic of many businesses.
    As for people leaving, not everyone leaves under a cloud?

  • Hi, Audrey, Val, and Tim. Thanks for your comments.

    Audrey, I love the idea of the employee’s goodbye message. I have seen such a message as an out-of-office email when someone has left the company, but I haven’t seen it as a standalone goodbye message. What a great idea!

    Val, thank you for the helpful reminder about being consistent. I can see how the decision you mentioned would come across as secretive.

    Tim, do you have any ideas on how to remedy people’s lack of information about the jobs of others? Is there a writing solution to the problem? Also, you are absolutely right–many people do not leave a job under a cloud.


  • My company usually welcome and announce new person in our monthly newsletter. They also announce our birth date. It became a culture in our company when staff leave they will send e-mail to announce their departure.

  • Hi, Anna. It sounds as though your company is doing things well. I like the idea of a welcome announcement in the newsletter, along with birthdays. The goodbye email also helps staff feel informed and connected.


  • Dear Lynn,

    Thank you for sharing your real life experience with us. This really is an exemplary case and its good to see the ways vendors are treated in the company. However, in most of the companies sending an introduction mail to introduce the new employee has never been heard. Its just when the employee needs some assistance in work or data for the team meeting he personally gets introduced to all. but in case of person leaving the firms, Farewell parties are organized and everyone is aware much before the time. i think this should be other way round. I would love to listen to your thoughts on the same.

    Warm Regards,

  • Prabhat, I agree with you. Although I appreciate farewell parties, I believe welcome parties would set a wonderful tone. The new employees would meet many people and begin to establish relationships. They would feel welcomed and probably decide they had made a good decision to join the company.

    Excellent idea! Thank you for sharing it.


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