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Advice on How to Avoid the On-Boarding Landmines

Written By: Kia Brown


Let’s be honest, receiving a job offer is great news for any job seeker. Fast forward weeks or months later when you’re being critiqued and congratulated (hopefully) at the end of your probation period, you may recollect your journey from upon entry into the organization. You may look at how your experience contrast or compare to what the organization marketed during the application process. Your supervisor may mention some room for improvement, but what if any gap in your work performance was due to a to an inadequate on-boarding process?

Hindsight is always 20/20 and work performance is king. Unfortunately, new employee on-boarding may not be treated as a formal training practice that is measured on a quarterly or yearly basis. As a result, some new employees find themselves thrown into a work space to figure everything out on their own. So what can the Newbie do to avoid some workplace landmines without causing a ruckus and kicking up dust? Here are some mindful on-boarding tips to help you navigate your entry into a new work environment with as much as ease as possible:
Workplace Landmine #1: Role Ambiguity
As a new employee, it makes sense to refer to the job description, company website, and other sources that you obtained before and during the recruitment process to help you better understand what is expected of you as an employee.  However, despite what you may have been informed during the application process, some roles are expanded or marginalized depending on the need of the organization. Although it may be difficult to predict the work forecast of your new employer, being mindful of your role is essential.

Clarify your primary and secondary job duties– It is advantageous to new employees to start asking critical questions during the on-boarding to understand what is required of you, who is involved in the process and delivery of the project, when the work is expected to be drafted, reviewed, and/or completed.

Create Your Tool Belt-Identify where any files, databases, and other tools are stored that you are expected to use. Understand how you are to gain access to any tools, information, and colleagues that you must utilize.

Avoid Tunnel Vision-Most importantly, understanding why you are even performing the task and how it impacts the organization will help new employees figure out how to navigate towards accomplishing the assigned task.

Workplace Landmine# 2: Benefits and Workplace Leave Policies

Is your company’s workplace employee leave policies uniformly enforced or is approval at the discretion of direct supervisor? Do you know the process of reporting a workplace injury that you may incur? Do you understand how your company execute their Family Medical Leave Act policy (FMLA)? Do you understand what makes you an exempt or non-exempt employee?

Your company’s benefit package and workplace policies influence your lifestyle and personal needs. The new employee on-boarding process is important for new employees to understand how their tenure and performance impact their access to benefits and incentives for their health and financial well-being.

Make it an appointment to meet with a member of your company’s Employee Benefits and Payroll Department to understand some of the following:

  1. The amount of benefit deductions to expect from your pay and potential increases or upcoming change in Benefit vendors (healthcare, life insurance, 401K, etc.)
  2. Tax deductions and exemptions
  3. Sick Leave, Paid/Unpaid Leave, Personal and Vacation Leave polices
  4. The amount of hours of various employee leave you receive each pay period
  5. Life insurance policy rates and options; and retirement packages
  6. Procedures to properly file insurance claims
  7. Confirm any proper child support or child care subsidy deductions
  8. Employment Assistance Programs
  9. Discuss coverage of any upcoming medical procedures and how it may impact your income
  10. Inquire about incentives that may be offered for enrollment into certain health wellness improvement programs

Workplace Landmine # 3: Ignoring your limitations 

No one is Perfect-If you are able to identify any limitations to your skill set or work environment that may hinder any job duty, then you can quickly take steps into tapping into those who are more knowledgeable. No one expects the new employee to know everything, but your manager does expect you to communicate when you need assistance to complete an assigned task.

Seek Guidance- It’s isn’t a bad idea to seek your supervisor’s insight on your work performance before any scheduled performance reviews. The best way to avoid landmines is when someone can point one out. Gaining your supervisor’s insight show initiative, but also your sense of commitment to your new position.

Exercise Flexibility-Many people have heard and learned that it is important to be flexible in all aspect of their lives. Some things in life don’t go according to plan and the workplace isn’t any different. So yes, you may have been informed of four important projects to tackle this quarter, but by the end of next month the number have risen to six. Breathe in, exhale, smile, and ask questions on timelines and how to best meet those timelines.

Stay Encouraged

Keep in mind that every new employee adjusts and plateau into their new roles at different levels. Both the employer and new employee should expect the on-boarding process to take time for the proper information to be processed and applied toward work performance. New employees and supervisors should feel supported by the onboarding process and encouraged to give feedback to help improve its effectiveness within the organization.

        The Glass Ceiling Curse

          Written By: Kia Brown

Are women being unfairly targeted in the workplace or is it a figment of their imagination? Are men who dare to ask for Paternity leave being passed over for promotions and viewed as less than a man or is he suddenly a low performer? Does the color of skin or religion belief work against employees or is it all being exaggerated? We all will have our responses to these questions. We all get a turn on the carousel of uncomfortable work conditions. Some may view their experience as discrimination and some may view it as just a stroke of bad luck. Some may see a glass ceiling and others may see through it as a looking glass to the next level of their career path.

What is the glass ceiling exactly? Historically speaking, the terminology has usually been associated towards female employees who are marginalized within their place of employment. In 2017 as employer-employee relations issues are trending in the media, the infamously dreadful “glass ceiling” is no longer a term that belongs to only one demographic. The glass ceiling represents a barrier that we all may have to face on a day that we least expect. How can your company shatter glass ceilings? Figuratively speaking, the simplest answer is not to allow glass ceilings to become a part of your company’s interior design.

Antiquated Sick Leave Policies:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want a sick co-worker coming to work. I remember when a bad cold was recycled around my office for two months. I took a few days off to recuperate, but other employees did not. As a result, I was ill again and so were others. When paid sick leave isn’t provided to employees, it endanger the health of other employees. It also cause low productivity instead of increased productivity. A sick employee who reports to work is not really present because his/her energy is going towards coping with the nagging discomfort. Unfortunately, some employers want to penalize employees by denying them career advancement opportunities for using their earned sick leave.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Reasonable Accommodations:

Some organizations do not have a proper reasonable accommodation process available upon request. By law under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers with 15 or more employees must offer reasonable accommodations to disabled employees who need specific tools to perform their work job duties. By law, reasonable accommodations are even extended to job candidates. For instance, a visually impaired job candidate may need large print documents when taking an written employment examination that will allow him/her to competitively compete for the position.

The ADA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also designed to protect employees returning back to work from medical leave who may need certain workplace ergonomic tools to perform their job proficiently. Often times, organizations cut corners by not having a standardized protocol with providing reasonable accommodations in accordance of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity. As a result, job candidates and employees with disabilities are denied their civil right to pursue and achieve equitable career opportunities.

Work Place Bullying/Hostile Work Environment:

There are various types of hostile work environments. Workplace bullying can be done in a passive or abrasive manner. Perpetrators of workplace bullying can do it for a variety of reasons. The reasons may be based on bigotry, mental illness, or simply the jealousies/insecurities of others. Either way, it impacts a multitude of people who are wrongfully reprimanded and/or terminated everyday.  The Human Resources (HR) Department is supposed to help preserve employment rights.  However, board members and C-Suite executives alike should proactively partner with their respective HR Departments to implement workplace policies that create more of an ethical and due diligence environment. Inclusive workplace policies will help minimize a company’s cost of defending itself against unfair reprimand, wrongful termination, harassment and/or discrimination-based lawsuits.

Equal Pay:

Equal pay has been a hot button issue here in America across all industries ranging from the studios in Hollywood to fast food chains nationwide. Matter in fact, the employees of fast food chains are fighting for a higher minimum wage of at least 15 dollars an hour. In addition, it has become more of a common knowledge that females performing the same job as men are subjected to less compensation. The imbalance of equal pay between women and men has never been a secret. However, more females in the workplace are becoming vocal about the lack of income that undercut the value of their competencies; especially when the same job duties are performed by a male co-worker.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but if there is a viable reason why men are paid more than women in the 21st Century then I would love to be enlightened. Many households need at least two incomes to just comfortably pay for the cost of housing alone. I’m not even talking about being able to buy your favorite cereal at full price, which may be a luxury to many. I’m referring to just everyday necessities. According to the Economic Policy Institute, to maintain a four person household in America it will require income ranging between $49,114 to $106,493. According to the Huffington Post article written by Richard Eskow, in 1960 there were 72 percent of two-parent households in America that had a single earner (typically the father). In 2010 the number of two-parent households dropped to 32 percent.

Although we are living in the 21st Century, working women are still paid often times sixty cents less than their male counterparts. Antiquated compensation policies that were based on an era long gone, where males were considered the primary breadwinner while their housewives presumably tended to the laundry and reared the children all day, need to be eradicated.

So What’s Next?

The glass ceiling doesn’t belong solely to women. The glass ceiling belongs to all of us. Discrimination doesn’t discriminate. Some people are going to find a way and reason to label and unfairly target or deny opportunities towards certain demographics. Even the bully get his/her turn at being bullied themselves. Unfortunately this creates a cultural norm where inequitable and hostile work environments are acceptable within organizations. However, when more workplace polices are enforced to encourage supportive and bias-free environments, the less likely glass ceilings can be created.

So yes, within many organizations it may require the buy-in of decision makers to influence and implement an equitable-based workforce policy that protect the workforce that it employs. However, it’s as simple as creating and enforcing policies that reflect treating others the way that you would like to be treated. Thank goodness the solution isn’t rocket science.