Welcoming your new starters.
A shout out to everyone working in HR and learning and development roles with an interest in early careers. This month is an exciting time when we welcome graduates and others just out of formal education into our teams and organisations.
It’s been said that to teach is to touch the future. It could also be said that to support young people at the start of their careers is to help make the future happen. Those first few weeks and months after formal education is a big transition for a young person. The last time they did something this big was probably at the beginning of their senior school or as a fresher at college or university. So for a lot of new starters, nothing will ever be the same again. There is more money, new things to learn and a new social group to navigate.
The last three to four years has been messy in education because of the pandemic and another disruption. Many young people missed out on the usual opportunities for personal growth and social development at school, then college and university. In some areas they will be stronger, more resilient and open to new things like remote working. In other areas they will be less developed.
Here are a few observations for anyone welcoming new starters this month.
Money may be tight.
They will now have a steady income, the first time for a lot of young people. But that first payday, at the end of the month can feel a long way off. They may have moved into a new place, paid a deposit and rent-up front, maybe paid for driving lessons and a test over the summer so they can get to work, and updated their wardrobe. That’s a lot of expenditure and it may weigh heavy on some.
They are joining a moving train.
In most cases they will drop into a team with ongoing projects and regular activities from the get-go. It will take time to learn the job and how everything connects and works. That is a different experience from starting their course at college or university when everyone around them was a fresher starting together. They will care about their performance and want to do well, that’s why you recruited them ahead of others. You will encourage them to take their time to settle in. But it will take time for confidence to build and anxiety to reduce.
Don’t be too remote.
Think about the balance of remote working and time in the office. New starters will learn a lot from observing others online. However, time spent in the office or in-person is an opportunity for new starters to see how experienced colleagues work and interact. Good things are shared by example and osmosis, boundaries are noticed and culture soaks in. This is a time when it’s particularly important that leaders model positive behaviours.
To welcome new starters into their first career step is a joyful thing at this time of year. Remember when you started your first job, the things that people did or said to reassure and guide you. Encourage them to be curious, to see the positives in all they experience and to look forward, soon they will be fully part of the team and its work. In a year’s time it will be their turn to welcome the new starters.