Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Starting a new job, Building a new foundation – part 3 and HR department onboarding

Posted in HR and personnel, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on June 1, 2010

This is my third installment to this new series on getting off to a strong start in a new job with the first appearing in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development as postings 73 and 74:

Part 1 – Starting a New Career Development Best Practices Series.
Part 2 – Initial Meetings with Supervisors and Colleagues.

Part 2 focused on day one on the new job and this posting continues with day one insofar as at least the initial steps in the Human Resources (HR) department’s contribution to your onboarding process will take place today. My goal here is to outline some of the issues and opportunities that you have available to you as you go through this process. In this, HR can be viewed as simply a part of the organizational bureaucracy – the more commonly held perception outside of that department at least, or it can be viewed as a useful resource – the approach I recommend that you take.

Onboarding does in fact include going through a lot of bureaucratic form filling, and whether you go through this today on day one or at a later date, it may include going through an orientation meeting as well.

1. The forms will deal with payroll and setting up your preferred method of receiving your salary payments, whether through checks or by direct deposit to a bank account or what ever other option you might prefer that is offered. This will include filling out tax withholding forms, and documents.
2. You will probably discuss the range of benefits you are eligible for and when they would each start for you as you pass on the job tenure milestones.
3. Form many organizations, this will mean deciding which options you want and according to both benefits received and out of pocket costs incurred (e.g. which healthcare plan to sign up for and whether to include that dental package or not.)
4. Depending on the nature and size of the organization you are joining, your orientation meeting may be a simple one to one discussion with an HR staff member. It may or may not include watching a video clip or two, and it may be held off until the next session of a larger regularly scheduled new employee orientation meeting. These sessions, however scheduled and run generally offer information on workplace harassment and proper workplace behavior, and other issues that the organization is required to cover in a formal manner to meet their due diligence requirements as well as to inform.
5. This much is in large part bureaucratic and a focus on it is responsible for that HR as bureaucracy perception.

An HR department may be limited to this for an organization and particularly for low headcount organizations where these onboarding functions may be limited mostly to points one through three, above, and be carried out by a single staff member as more of a secretarial/clerk position. But many organizations also use their HR as a tool for developing, managing and distributing a wide range of other resources as well. That is what this posting is about.

Does the organization have an Intranet?

• If so, it is likely the HR department offers a wide range of forms, white papers and other resources through their section of this site. Finding out about this and how to access it from day one means getting up to speed that much faster.
• You will definitely want to get up to speed on any Intranet resources directly related to your department or service and the team you are joining, and use this opportunity to look for and fill any gaps here, that may be left over from your meeting with your supervisor.
• If you are going to have internal clients from other teams, services or departments, you will also want to review their Intranet content too or at least the parts generally available to employees of the organization as a whole. A knowledgeable HR staff member should have at least a general idea as to what all of the groups in their organization are doing, at least within the division they deal with professionally. These people can point out the directions you need to look into as you do your due diligence and go through your learning curve.

Does your new employer offer training resources?

• This may mean self-directed online courses, and it may mean classroom or other presentation-based offerings which may be offered onsite, or through third party providers.
• What is available, and to whom, and when?
• How and where do you access these resources for those that are going to be available to you?
• How and where do you register for programs and offerings that will show in your personnel record to indicate you have gone through specific training modules related to career path development?

What other resources are available that will help you get off to a strong start? This may very well include a lot more than simply getting a parking sticker for your car. Use this part of your onboarding to learn more about the organization as a whole, and about the full range of options and resources that will be available to you as you settle in and move forward.

And as a final and very important point: use your HR onboarding as an opportunity to build positive professional relationships that you can turn to for further value as needed. Use this as an opportunity to make an HR person with their forms into an ally you can turn to for future reference. Questions will come up and this is a person who can help you bring at least some of them into focus and this is a person who can help answer them – or at the very least help you find the people who can.

My next posting in this series will look into networking into the organization. I am adding this posting both to the Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and also to my series on HR and Personnel as it connects to both.

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