Starting a New Job
Source: Gil Winch
Starting a new job entails dealing with much uncertainty regarding the job itself, the people and the culture, so it’s not surprising that in a recent survey, a whopping 87% reported suffering from ‘new job jitters’.
Yet, the term ‘jitters’ doesn’t really convey how anxiety-provoking, stressful, scary, and rife with challenges starting a new job actually is, and right from the start:
- Everyone on the team knows how to go about their job better than you.
- Everyone on the team knows each other to various degrees — you don’t know anyone.
- Everyone on the team shares common history — you share none.
- Everyone on the team is familiar with their direct manager’s style, preferences, and pet peeves — you are not.
- Everyone on the team is senior to you regarding performing the job itself — professionally, you start at the bottom.
In fact, it seems that for most people, starting a new job is one of the scarier things they could do. According to 53% of workers in the survey, it’s scarier than a trip to the dentist, it’s scarier than holding a spider or a snake and it’s even scarier than skydiving. Imagine, sitting in an open door, feet dangling, looking down from 10,000 feet, and then actually jumping out of a perfectly good plane, is less scary than starting a new job!
My company (CY), employs people who have been chronically unemployed for many years, and because unemployment impairs mental health, the emotional challenges our new employees face are even more anxiety-provoking and stressful.
Fortunately, we find that veteran team members can provide significant help to all new employees, by reducing their anxiety and hastening the departure of their initial ‘new job jitters’.
5 ways to help new employees feel at home and part of the team quickly
- Empathy warm-up: Think back to a group you joined (not necessarily work related) that initially made you feel unwanted or like an outsider. What behaviors of theirs created those feelings? Then think back to a group you joined that made you feel welcome and wanted from the beginning. Make the first group of behaviors your “to avoid” list and the second group of behaviors your “to do” list.
- Names: the new employee has to remember a lot of new faces and names. Make sure to remember their name and with a smile, remind them of your name every time you interact during the first few days.
- Social inclusion: Make a point of inviting the new employee to sit with you, or join them if they are sitting alone during their first few weeks.
- Pace of learning and expectations: Ask how they are feeling, and feel free to share that when you started it took you a while to reach targets and develop a sense of competency (but only if true). If you happen to notice clear improvement, encourage it — while making sure to not come across as condescending — a simple smile and thumbs up will often suffice.
- Basic Human Caring: Just inquiring every now and then how things are going, and a friendly “let me know if there’s anything I can help with” can go a long way towards helping people feel at home and part of the family.
For the veterans themselves, the effort is well worth their while and can reward them in many ways: It reduces the amount of time needed for the new employee to pull their own weight, making things easier for the rest of the team. It promotes a bottom-up culture of caring which positively affects everyone by creating an improved workplace culture. It enhances team cohesiveness and productivity. And maybe most of all, kindness to others enhances our own well-being and general happiness.