the buzz on hr

September 2, 2014

Bringing that “Back To School” Magic to HR

I’m not sure how, when or why it happened — but I have a lot of friends who are teachers! And every year around this time, I see all their posts about going back to school. They are very excited, uplifting and full of anticipation for what the new year will bring.

It got me thinking about my own profession and the preparation (or lack thereof) for the seasons in HR … Although we don’t typically have a summer break to come back from or a 100% turnover in our teams each year, there are still some moments where HR can create excitement and anticipation within ourselves and our organizations.

And during onboarding and orientation, HR can definitely make the same magic teachers at the start of a new school year.

Unfortunately, we get so focused on satisfying hiring managers and quickly getting the new hire up to speed that we miss this opportunity. We often fail to put our best foot forward during that critical time. We forget the impressions made in the first 120 days of work sets the standard and expectation for the entire employment experience … Those are bells that can’t be un-rung.

Teachers, on the other hand, never seem to lose sight of this. I’m not sure if this is something they’re taught through theory or something they learn through observation and practice — but teachers understand the importance of making magic at the start of the new school year.

What is the “magic” you ask? Here are a few tricks to keep up your sleeve:

  • Connection on an individual level. Teachers take time to get to know the students, their backgrounds, interests and experiences … HR should do the same. Take moments early in the first few weeks to get to know your people beyond what they were hired to do. Knowing what makes our employees tick will help us to engage and develop them from the start.
  • Guided tour of the environment. Teachers make sure the students know the layout of the classroom, the important people or places within the school, and where to find common, necessary resources … HR should do the same. Tours of the building and introductions to key people should happen in the first few days. Basic explanation of the setup guidelines, times and places for things like lunch, breaks and routine meetings should also occur. This will help the employee become acclimated to the environment more quickly and avoid embarrassing faux pas with colleagues.
  • Positive presentation. Teachers go out all out to make their classrooms look bright, fun and ready for action … HR should do the same. The assigned workspace for a new employee should welcome and exude excitement to have that person on board. The supplies and system access needed to do their job effectively should already be setup and waiting. Nowadays employees want to feel their company is as excited to have them as they are to work there.

These are just a few examples of ways HR can make magic like teachers during back to school. It doesn’t take much time, resources or effort to do these things, either — and it will make a huge difference in the first and lasting impressions of your company and its working environment.

Next, we’ll talk about setting the tone for the environment like our teachers going back to school.

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