Here are some tips for onboarding new employees (in particular, from underrepresented backgrounds):
Give feedback early on
Many new hires may feel imposter syndrome upon starting a new job, and that may increase among new hires who have to overcome self-doubt based on centuries of discrimination
Giving clear constructive criticism and suggestions can ease some anxieties and provide new hires with a better idea of the type of work that you are looking for
Imposter syndrome, the psychological pattern of convincing oneself of being unqualified or unfit for a job and the fear of being discovered as a fraud, is very common amongst working professionals and will affect at least 70% of people at some point in their lives according to an article published by the Behavioral Science Research Institute.
Even though imposter syndrome is not unique in the slightest, it is more commonly felt by those who feel like outsiders since it adds to the anxiety and stress that they already feel. This means that ethnic minorities, women, members of the LGBT, and other underrepresented groups who feel as though they need to overcome extra obstacles may face more internal struggles when working at a new company. While this phenomenon may not initially seem like a problem to management, it should be addressed since it can greatly affect the mental state of employees and therefore affect their quality of work.
Having someone in direct management comment on the areas that employees can improve upon can ease some of the unnecessary worry that employees may harbor, and if the feedback is given in the first few weeks of the workers’ employment, then they can gain more direction on how they should approach tasks going forward.
Just as beneficial as constructive criticism is rewarding and congratulating employees when they complete a project or reach some other accomplishment. Acknowledging their areas of strength not only makes workers feel valued by their employers, it also reminds them of the fact that they are qualified for their jobs and that they play an important role in the success of the company. These moments of praise can motivate employees to give their best effort when doing tasks, and stay at their job.
Have one-on-one sessions between hires and management
In the first few months of their employment, new hires are still deciding whether they want to stay at their job long-term (or even make it to the one-year mark) and one of the deciding factors is the time and collaboration that they have with their direct managers. Employees want to know that they matter to their employers, so when no acknowledgement is given they might feel overlooked by their place of work and begin looking for work elsewhere. Workers who are underrepresented in their field may especially feel unappreciated in their jobs and feel that they are not receiving enough attention from their superiors.
Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings requires bosses to give their undivided attention while allowing employees to discuss any questions or issues they may have. Employees who have worked at the company for a while maintain an honest communication with their managers, and new hires understand that they will always have opportunity to directly address their concerns with their management.
Assign a mentor who comes from a similar background
Sometimes new hires can still feel out of place and well new after a few weeks on the job, which is why it can be useful for them to have someone who can offer them support and help them catch up to speed. This friend or mentor may not only tell them information about the company and the tools the team uses to complete tasks, but, unlike with a superior, they can also give advice on best practices for success.
Having an official yet somewhat informal connection with a well-experienced employee can provide new hires with an idea of the type of job that is possible for them if they stay with the company. If the mentor is from a similar background as a hire from a marginalized group, then that new hire will have an added advantage of being guided by someone who has gone through the same struggles that they may face in their career.
These mentorships will also be beneficial for managers because they can assist in training and guiding the employees. Because managers have their own tasks to complete, they cannot always be available to congratulate employees and have meetings, but mentors can share the added tasks of supervising subordinates and catch anything that the managers may miss.
Have one-on-one sessions between hires and management
Give the new hires the chance to ask questions that they may not be comfortable asking in meetings
Let the new hires know that you care about and respect them enough to want to hear their comments and suggestions directly
New hires from underrepresented backgrounds may especially need to know this since they may still feel imposter syndrome during the first few weeks on the job
Have Clear Anti-Discrimination Policies and Explain them to All Employees
Clearly establish anti-discrimination policies so that all current employees are aware of the type of behavior that is acceptable and so that new diverse hires know that they are protected by these rules
Understand the statistics
Statistics on the number of people who leave jobs in the first few months and why
Emphasis on the number of people who left and identified as a member of a marginalized group (ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.)
Emphasis on the number of marginalized people who left due to feeling discriminated against or unwelcome in the workplace
Learn appropriate terminology to avoid offending new hires or making them uncomfortable
Learn about the typical stereotypes that are often associated with marginalized groups and how those stereotypes have prevented people from advancing in the workplace.
Find ways to make the workplace a welcoming environment
It can be daunting to be the new person at work when every other member of the team seems to already have formed friendships, so encouraging employees to connect can make new hires feel more welcome.
Invite the new hire to sit in on various meetings to gain a better idea of everyone’s job description and the way the company operates. These simple actions can answer any unspoken questions that the new hire may have about the company and its employees, and can speed up the process of them feeling like part of the community.
During these times of team bonding, it can also be a good time for heads of departments to go over the roll of the new hire so that everyone involved is on the same page. The new employee can feel more at ease knowing that their job description is understood by their colleagues and existing employees can better understand how having more qualified people on the team will ease individual pressure and increase overall efficiency.
Companies have different ways of celebrating holidays and special occasions, however, acknowledging the customs of different countries and religions makes the work environment more welcoming and inclusive. People from Jewish, Muslim, or Hindi backgrounds are probably accustomed to recognizing important dates in mainstream American society whether that involves taking a day off of work or attending Christmas parties, but they may not expect their places of work to recognize the cultures of different groups. While it may seem extremely simple, sending company-wide emails that say “Happy Hanukkah” or “Ramadan Mubarak” can make people whose holidays are outside of the mainstream feel included as employees of the company.
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