Helping New Workers Transition into Their New Jobs

When new hires begin work, the first few days and weeks can set the tone for how they adapt to their new work environments, and ultimately whether or not they succeed at your company.

But what makes for a successful transition, and what doesn’t?  It helps to listen to workers’ own accounts of their first days on the job.

When Teresa began work as an analyst in the IT department of a large corporation, she felt totally qualified to jump right in to her responsibilities. However, the company required she attend five days of training and orientation with the other new hires that had been brought on at the same time.  Teresa ended up being grateful.  To her surprise, the training taught her some task-specific lessons she otherwise would have had to learn the hard way.  It also allowed her to bond with her new co-workers, creating a sense of camaraderie and helping them work effectively as a team.  Most unexpected, Teresa appreciated the structure the training provided.  First days on the job can be uncertain and unpredictable, and the structure put her and the other new hires at ease.

Clearly, if Teresa’s and her coworkers’ feedback are any indication, a structured training and orientation program are a good idea for helping new workers transition into new jobs.

Now let’s look at another case.  Brian began work on Wednesday as a consultant at a mid-sized agency.  On his first day, he was introduced to a few people, spent a couple of hours shadowing his manager, and then was handed a small assignment that took a few minutes to complete.  From there, no one seemed to know what to do with him.  Brian sat at his desk trying to look busy.  After all, he didn’t want to be perceived as a slacker on the first day.  Yet, there was truly nothing for him to do.  To make matters worse, this continued for several days.  It seemed management hadn’t formulated a plan for his assignments before bringing him on.  His lack of fulfillment and accomplishment early on eroded his confidence level and he wondered why he’d been hired.  Eventually, he began to receive assignments, but by then he felt more uncertain than he had on his very first day.  Brian was a good worker, and he would recover from his first week, but needless to say he did not look back on it fondly.

So, if we were to simplify the difference between these two new workers’ experiences into one word, it’d be “organization.”  Teresa’s company had an organized process for helping new workers transition, and Brian’s company did not.  Teresa’s company invested resources and thought into new hires first days, and Brian’s company did not.  The difference cost Brian’s company more money in the long run, since Brian was unproductive his first week and played catch up in the weeks following.  Meanwhile, Teresa’s company’s investment in training paid off, as the entire team of new hires began work confident and prepared to perform at top capacity.

Which approach does your company take to new hire transitions? An organized one, or a disorganized one?

Do you have your own story of your first days on the job? What make them great, or not so great?

About TRC Staffing Services, Inc.

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