It’s easy to think that the hard work is over once you have attracted, screened, interviewed, assessed, deliberated and finally, offered graduates roles in your organisation. However it’s not quite time to sit back and relax just yet (is it ever?!) Making sure your new employees have positive first experiences in your business is critical and so I’ve compiled a list of 10 possible actions to help you achieve this. Often, graduates just need guiding in the right direction during their first weeks with you, so share some of these ideas with your new recruits and let me know how you get on!
- Lunch on us!
Encourage your graduate employees to lunch with their new colleagues during their first week. Perhaps even buddy them up with someone from a different team and propose they expense their lunch. In doing this small deed you will make your graduates instantly feel welcomed and valued, whilst helping them make connections in your business.
- The power of a pen and paper
Arm your graduates with some nice stationary and recommend that they record everything they see/do/learn in their first few weeks. This will become invaluable as they start putting things into practice and, a few months in, it’s actually a really nice reminder of how much they have learnt and how far they’ve come.
- Communication is key
Support your graduates with communication. For me, a silent new starter is more of a concern than a chatty one. The onboarding period is such an important one in terms of relationship building, developing a network and learning. Asking questions, socialising with colleagues and shadowing others successfully achieves all of these things.
- Who rules in office politics?
Those unwritten office rules are really difficult for newcomers to get to grips with. So much so that it’s worth them spending some time observing and recording office behaviour. Ask them to make a note of ten things they have picked up on in their first week and talk through them together. The quicker they can grasp your culture and ways of working, the more likely they are to assimilate and feel comfortable in their new working environment.
- Glossary of terms
Every business has its own abbreviations, jargon and ‘quirky’ phrases! Keeping a glossary is not only a useful resource to refer back to but also provides a good tool for graduates to use if they begin mentoring a new starter later in their career.
- Staying alert with Google Alerts
If your industry or sector is new to your graduates, Google Alerts is a simple, but highly useful tool. Select keywords related to your industry and receive relevant news every morning. During the induction period, put forward the idea that new employees spend three minutes a day browsing the flagged articles. They’ll learn a surprising amount very quickly.
Millennials are a slightly different breed to some of us, a breed which hugely values the work-life balance. Encourage them to take their full lunch break and leave on time. If their colleagues are getting in early and staying late in the evening, they may feel obliged to do the same and become frustrated at this perceived expectation. If you start to notice they are working longer than you deem necessary, remind them that they are by no means required to do so and that they will be more effective by taking the time out.
8. “Know thyself”
Self-awareness is a much talked about topic in the realms of graduate development. Do your graduates know how their own behaviour may be perceived in the workplace? Behavioural profiling can help newcomers with their ability to be self-aware (we use Parallax). I’d highly recommend arranging a session to explain what the profiles mean and how your graduates can use the information to help them integrate effectively into your business.
Likewise, if you are managing a graduate, make sure you allow time for them to get to know you. Ask them to find a convenient day to shadow you so they can build an awareness of some of the daily pressures you are faced with.
- Gaining perspective
Encourage your employees to talk through the tangible outputs of their first week; what information can they feed back to you about their role, their team, other’s roles, the business’ priorities and challenges? They will no doubt be able to relay quite a lot of information back to you and whilst they may feel their first week has been a bit of a whirlwind, this will help them consolidate their learning and realise just how much knowledge they have picked up in five busy days.
Urge your graduates to accept invitations. Whether that is an invitation to shadow someone, to accompany someone to a meeting, to go along to a networking event or to enjoy a post-work beverage! Understanding colleagues and their styles is the key to building strong relationships and becoming a part of the office furniture!
Perhaps you have tried other techniques and activities that have really worked for you? If so, please do get in touch. I’d love to know what other exciting things organisations are doing to ensure their graduates get the best possible start to life in your business.