A member of my family recently graduated and has just started his first full-time job.
It’s an exciting time – he’s moved cities and is taking the first steps in a brand-new career, and I’m lucky enough to have him living close to me now.
I met him for lunch several times, and spoke to him every day to ask how he was getting on. But, as his first week drew to a close I realised that some of the questions I was asking weren’t as expected as I would have thought.
For example, when I asked questions such as “How are you organising yourself?”, and “Are you starting to build good working relationships with your team?”, I was met with a confused face, or silence on the end of the phone. And I couldn’t understand why this hard-working young man, who spent hours every evening studying for his new job, didn’t have the workplace skills and knowledge that we all take for granted.
My story is one that mirrors thousands of others every day. Every day there are new people going into the workplace, straight out of education. Most of the time they are intelligent, enthusiastic young people who can, no doubt, get outstanding results with the right experience – and this story is testament to that.
The company he has started working for have an outstanding learning and development programme to help people advance their careers. But is something missing from day one?
Why, when L&D is such an important factor for so many organisations, are we not putting more focus on those new to the workplace?
I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this question – there are too many variables to consider. Too many ‘what-ifs’ and ‘yeah, buts’, and each organisation will be able to answer that question themselves.
Let’s not forget, of course, that some Learning Departments excel in this area. There are some outstanding graduate and apprenticeship programmes out there that tackle this issue and more – but, as standard, what can L&D be doing to ensure that new workers are equipped with the basic workplace skills from day one?
Here are some of my ideas – but I’d love to hear what works in your organisation too.
Set up a 3-month personal development programme
Have a lot of new starters that haven’t been in the workplace before? Why not set up a 3-month development programme to help them learn the basic workplace skills we all take for granted?
This could include learning such as time management, communications, handling difficult situations and conflict and even time-keeping. These are such key skills that no doubt will be developed over time, but putting your new workers at an advantage is only going to prove beneficial for the whole business.
Create an effective buddy scheme
Lots of businesses have buddy schemes in place for new workers, but why not make this a skill share scheme? Pairing up new workers with experienced colleagues in their line of work will not only break the ice, but give them the opportunity to understand what’s acceptable and what’s not in the business.
Also, having a confidant that they can talk freely to will make new starters feel at ease and hopefully will result in less ‘basic’ errors and misjudgements.
Build a video library of top tips
My colleague recently talked about the use of video in learning, and I think it’s so relevant here. A massive 95% of Generation Z are using YouTube – that’s higher than any other social platform – and 50% of them said they “couldn’t live without it”.
Why not capitalise on this and create a video library for them to use to learn these skills? You don’t even necessarily have to create them yourself (although there are huge benefits to doing so) – you can curate a library using all of the awesome content that’s out there already.
I’m giving my family member the low-down on general dos and don’ts of being in the workplace, but seeing something like this in the organisation he works for would be fantastic! As I said, these are just some of my ideas, but I’d love to hear some of yours too. Have one you’d like to share? Send me a tweet and let’s chat!
Rachel Matthews, Strategic Marketing Manager
In my blogs I will look at industry constraints and issues and problems that employees face in their day-to-day work lives.
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