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Henicka Uddin: Starting work - make it positive

Monday 20 March 2017

Henicka Uddin, Deputy Assistant Director for Acas London, on her top tips for starting work for the first time.

Henicka Uddin

Image of Henicka Uddin

Henicka has considerable experience dealing with complex industrial disputes as well as delivering bespoke training. Throughout her career, Henicka has helped improve working life for a large variety of people and organisations, ranging from very small businesses to large international corporate companies, public sector organisations and the voluntary sector. She has become particularly specialised in working with groups in dispute, including facilitating workshops to agree improved ways of working.

It's been a long time since I started my first job but I have been lucky enough to welcome many new recruits to their first day at work. Here are my top tips on making it a memorable experience for the right reasons:

  1. Highlight the positive. Think about what makes the company a great place to work and tell them. Share stories about your successes and how the team worked together to overcome challenges. It's a great way to refer to 'culture', without actually referring to it!
  2. Invite questions. There should be someone to support the new person in a non-judgmental way. Try and set free all those silent concerns. Let them be aired, discussed and resolved with an empathetic manager or colleague.
  3. Be crystal clear. The way we communicate with people starting work for the first time is critical. Don't assume they understand the 'office speak' because they usually won't.   
  4. Remember it can be boring. Work isn't all fun and games but should a new starter really be left for hours reading or staring at a computer screen? This is not a good 'rite of passage' even if it did happen to you.
  5. Policies have to make sense. It really isn't good enough to hand over HR manuals and say 'it's all in there'. Be smart about prioritising key information. Talk about it in realistic terms, perhaps give likely scenarios to bring things to life. Invite questions and expect knowledge to build over a period of time.
  6. Focus on skills training that's going to make an immediate difference. What often gets forgotten are the softer skills you need to help you get on at work. Include some training that helps new staff understand how they should behave with colleagues and how they can raise a difficult issue.
  7. Everyone has a role. It would be great if all the team could get involved in settling in the new starter in some way. Something as simple as having an informal coffee morning can help the individual see other team members as 'real people' and not just job titles or hierarchy.

It is a big deal starting work for the first time. We can all do things to make it a positive time for the individual and as part of that remember what's great about working for the company. 

Acas has further advice on starting work on our First job page. 

1 Comment

  • Posted by Peter  |  20 March 2017, 11:54AM

    A really great checklist, Henicka.  I think the last point is particularly useful to remember.  The friendly offer of a cup of coffee or lunch as a new starter is something you will never forget and really helps you feel at home.

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