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Has this happened to you? You hire a new employee and they are doing great! They are eager, competent and picking up on the work really quickly. You like working with them and things seem to be going great! Then, in your three-month review meeting with the employee, they mention that they are really struggling with the adjustment to their new position. They are overwhelmed with information and are feeling inadequate. They thought it would get better once they settled in but they are finding that they are really tired and feeling a little burned out. They are in fact, re-considering their choice to take the position and feel that they may need to leave.

So what do you do?

The first few months on a job involves so many new things – a new schedule, a lot of new learning, a new boss which can create a feeling of being on display and evaluated all the time, meeting new people, having lots of new details to remember; it is frankly exhausting! So it is common for new employees, especially those who want to do a good job and may have some perfectionist tendencies, to really give it their all during this period and that is just not sustainable. As time goes on they feel more and more tired and start to question if the job is for them. In positions that have a big learning curve, the feelings of inadequacy can be even stronger as the employee can feel like they have forgotten everything they knew coming in, never mind remembering all the new stuff they have been told since they started!

There are a few things you can do to help new employees feel successful right from the start:

  1. Share the training schedule. Give the new employee a training schedule so that they know what training is going to be covered and how much time they have to learn something. This can take the pressure off trying to learn everything on the first day.
  1. Acknowledge what has been accomplished.Over the course of their probationary period, have regular check-ins and acknowledge all that they have learned and all that they have been adjusting to. This helps to normalize the overwhelm and can ease the feelings of inadequacy.
  1. Take a break from new learning. Give the employee time to adjust and settle. Take a couple of weeks off from anything new or from changing things for the person. Settle on a schedule if it is changing all the time. No new projects for a bit. No new videos to watch or books to read. No new responsibilities. The employee may be fatigued from the newness of everything so give time to let the learning sink in.
  1. Stay positive and be specific. Keep up the reinforcement that they are doing a good job and that they are meeting expectations. If the employee feels that the only way to do a good job is to always be doing something new, that is a lot of pressure and also exhausting! If they do have improvements they need to make, be specific about what needs to change so that they can focus their improvement efforts in the right place.
  1. Encourage discussion. New employees can often feel vulnerable when in a place of new learning. You may even hear them say things like “Am I going to get fired?” because they aren’t sure how they are doing. Encouraged your new employees to talk openly about how they are feeling so that you can reinforce how they are doing and that you are pleased with their performance.

Your Engaged HR Assignment

What about your orientation process? What are you doing to help new employees balance all the new learning in their first few months on the job? Is there anything we can do to help? If so, give us a call!

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