As exciting as it is to join a new office, to meet new people and to tackle new growth opportunities, there’s always that eerie feeling during that #FirstDayAtWork. And no matter where we are in our career right now, we all have been through that feeling.
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Some of us would have been fortunate enough to have a big blast and set off on the right foot with the new team straight from the first day. While there would be others who would have struggled to find their feet at the new organization. And most of the people know belong to the second category. The worst thing is that organizations and HR managers are all too focused on making the work culture fit to adapt and retain the existing employees that they completely ignore this important aspect.
As important as it is to improve the processes and make work culture adept to retain the existing, it is equally important to ensure that the new employee get inculcated in the team right from the first day.
This is the reason I am going to share some of the common problems that an employee has to go through during the first day at work. And, how managers can make sure that such problems don’t scare the new joiners so much that they end up leaving the job. Let us take a look –
A couple of years back, there was this new trainee hired in our marketing team. He was one of those fresh, full-blooded freshers from college who are looking to jump straight off into the corporate sector after graduation. During the interview he was full of energy. No wonder I was impressed with his skills as well; that’s the reason why he got selected as a trainee.
But after his first day at office, he came to my cabin and shared something which came as an eye opener for me. He said — ‘I felt like I don’t belong here. I was simply told to sit at one corner and observe, read and that’s it. I had no interaction with anyone in the team. I did not know where to go for lunch or who am I supposed to contact in case I need anything. I tried to talk with the girl sitting adjacent to my desk, but she made me feel as if I’ve committed a crime by asking her for something.’
Now this was something that had not been put up to my face until now. There have been many a hiring in our team. Some of them have stuck for long, while a few of them left within matter of days, without giving any reason. Now that I come to think of it, this might have been the reason.
What should companies do?
One of the first things that companies need to focus on, in order to avoid such circumstance from arising, doing here is to have an activity lined-up for the new member joining the team. This activity could cover things like getting to know the product or business.
For instance, we at ProofHub have this complete activity lined up for all our new joinees in which they are given a walkthrough of our tool. And then they are asked to independently perform certain tasks in the tool like creating a project, adding people from the office to that project, creating certain tasks and more. This not only gives the new joinee a good feel of the product, but at the same time gives them an opportunity to interact with the current team.
So, the new joinees do not feel like a refugee in a foreign land.
Another story that I am going to share here is that of one of my ex-classmates. He had been working as a graphic designer for close to five years with an IT firm. Finally he thought of making a switch and got hired at one of the most noted firms in the city. The experience for the first day for him was quite close to the story I’ve mentioned above. But he was not the kind of guy who would go upfront and confront the same to his manager.
A couple of days later, when things started to flow and he was assigned some work. But there was a problem. Every time he had to ask for feedback, he did not know whom to approach. Yes, there was a dedicated manager. But rather than the manger giving the feedback every time there is some senior person in the team who asked him to make the changes before the design even reached the manager. This was quite frustrating, as he simply did not know who’s who in the team. In his own words, “It was like I was thrown in as a freeloader who was told to do things, without any intimation as to for which team I am working, and whom I am reporting to.”
The gravity of the situation became so serious that he could not survive there for more than a couple of weeks.
What should companies do?
Having a proper hierarchy and system in place is something that companies need to employ here to eliminate this problem. Rather than leaving everything on time or on the employee to explore themselves, it becomes the responsibility of the manager or the hiring authority to share the list of point of contacts to the new team member in case they need something.
Not just related to work and task sharing, but also in regard to stuff other than work. For instance, things like break timings, any curricular activities which are done at office, some good places to eat nearby and similar other stuff. This can work as the ice breaker, and ensure that the new joinee is able to find like minded people and start his journey in the organization without any hiccups.
Another scenario, which is quite common, that I’ve seen many a new employee get faced with is when they are overwhelmed with workload on the first day. I know plenty of people who have had similar experiences. Either they are left idle for the day during the first day at work, or they are shared too much of responsibility that paints a scary picture of the days to come in the future.
Having too much work on the first day is dreaded because each employee needs some time to get used to the processes. Starting it slowly, but surely is the way to go here.
What should companies do?
Now this is where companies, and managers need to play smart. A good first day at work for an employee should mean that there is a balance between idle time so that he can get used to the processes and small amount of work so that the person does not feel left out.
You need to strategize and prepare the schedule for the coming member by thinking about the role that you want him to fit in for the team. After all you are the best judge of what input you are expecting to get from the new resource.
Hiring a person for the team is just the first step of building a thriving team. It is after the hiring and during the first day at work where things turn out to become good or bad. The right steps after this can be help you to create a winning team out of the individuals that you are hiring. It is up to you to make it work for the person coming in your team by making him feel at home right from the beginning!
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Vartika Kashyap currently runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. She is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.
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