Welcoming New Co-Workers

Rather than have the manager and/or one or two co-workers conduct most of the team-specific orientation and training, try involving the entire team.

We received several reader responses to the challenge we posted in a recent Training Top 125 Best Practices e-newsletter: After the formal orientation process, how can work groups be guided in making new co-workers feel welcome and comfortable?

From Blanca Alwan, Senior Trainer/Curriculum Developer, Sage Payment Solutions:

“I think identifying what motivates new hires and finding out their greatest strengths is important. That way, you can involve them in a team task that best fits what they enjoy doing. A a result, they will feel like a contributor to the team’s success.”

From Laura Sund Martin, L&D Manager, Instructional Design & Learning Technologies, Digital Insight:

“We’re a fairly small team (11 people), and most of us work remotely from each other, so it’s definitely a challenge making a new hire feel welcome and integrated. We’ve only had four new hires in the last three years, but all of them integrated fairly quickly and successfully. Here’s what I’ve done:

Rather than have the manager and/or one or two co-workers conduct most of the team-specific orientation and training, I’ve involved the entire team. The first two weeks, the new hire meets with each person individually at least once to learn about a tool, process, etc. The first part of each meeting is a “get to know you”—Webcams or photo swapping, some personal information. The rest of that meeting is training. By the end of the two weeks, the new hire feels like he or she knows the other team members, and also has a specific go-to person for each tool/process. This lessens the burden on any one team member.

What also happens is the new hire naturally feels more comfortable (personality-wise) with a few people and vice versa, so there are stronger work relationships that form between them rather quickly.”

From Bianca Violante, Communications, Team Mercury, DaVita:

“DaVita teammates believe that we are a community first and a company second; for this reason, we embrace new members of our community with open arms, giving them the necessary tools to do well and the right atmosphere in which to succeed.

One of the ways we do this is through DaVita University (DVU), DaVita’s continued education system. DVU uses the concept of “whole person learning,” which acknowledges that who we are at work is who we are at home, who we are in our communities, and who we are in the world. By growing as human beings, we can become better leaders, family members, community leaders, citizens, and beyond. This potential and possibility stands at the heart of DaVita: that together, we can support each other in becoming more of ourselves—and in that lies limitless possibility. That ultimately, by growing and learning both personally and professionally, our level of care for our patients will increase.

At the fore of DaVita University’s curriculum are:

  • One for All: An orientation program that introduces new teammates to DaVita’s unique traditions, symbols, and history
  • Academy: A two-day, off-site immersion event that prepares new hires to succeed in their new roles. While All for One is required early on in a teammate’s career, some teammates wait months or years to attend Academy.

Metrics we use to determine program value include positive response to training. We use a 5-point scale to measure participant reaction to training programs. According to our most recent data, Academy earned an average score of 4.72. One for All programs held at our corporate headquarters from November 2012 to November 2013 earned an average score of 4.71.

DaVita also provides opportunities for teammates to meet each other and connect through programs such as Wall of Fame, where teammates collaborate to create meaningful works of art that represent their business office or dialysis center; Town Hall meetings with executive leadership where teammates can ask important questions on just about anything; and DaVita’s annual Villagewide meeting, which allows teammates from all over the country to meet for educational breakout sessions and a tradeshow. Many teams also share key internal and external contacts via e-mail with new hires.”

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