• Mon, Jun 20 2011

How I Became The Unofficial Office Welcome Wagon

Every office has its own quirks. It can take new people months to catch on to the intricacies of office politics or the peculiarities of social protocol. Look at that SAT prep vocab-builder coming in handy. In other words, there’s a whole lot going on and new employees might need a while to get accustomed. For this reason, most companies have training and mentoring programs, along with a little patience for new hires. They have an organized system for orientation that makes their newest members feel welcomed and comfortable. Most companies do, but mine never did.

Employment at my company begins with a day or two of online computer courses, depending on your job. You might get a satellite class or two, as well. No one stops by the desk to say hello. No one shows you where the bathroom is. You just sat in front of a computer for sixteen hours. Then you’re considered trained and its sink or swim time. When I first started, it was intimidating and uncomfortable. I didn’t know when my lunch was or where the to find the coffee. I didn’t know who performed what job or who to ask for help. The entire thing was kind of a mess.

So when I was promoted and moved into a new office, directly across from the training cubicles, I took charge. It happened gradually. First, I just started popping over to say hello. I would introduce myself and let them know that I they could ask me any random questions that came up. It seemed harmless enough.

As I watched our new hires squirm in their chairs, their butts falling asleep just as mine had done, I began to help out more. I started taking them on tours of the company. I said that it was just because they needed to stretch their legs. I introduced them to their co-workers. We were walking past their office anyways, might as well say hi.

After being asked the same questions over and over again, I asked HR if I could put together a packet of general information. It wasn’t as formal as the handbook. It addressed basic questions about lunch breaks, parking and office equipment. I made a flowchart of company employees and who belonged in each department, along with contact information. Since I was speaking to our new hires so much, HR just let me combine all their paperwork and get it all filled out.

Once I started inviting our new employees out to lunch on their first day (who brings a packed lunch when they don’t know what type of kitchen equipment is available?), my company made it official. My boss granted me the authority to oversee new employee orientation and training. I was doing the job anyway.

I enjoy meeting our new employees. Starting a new job is extremely stressful. I think anything that makes them feel more at home and more comfortable helps the company as a whole. And to be honest, people don’t forget the nice person who took them out to lunch on their first day, even if I do get to expense it. First impressions are important, both for business people and businesses as a whole. Hopefully, I give our new employees a good look at our company.

Photo: MGM

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