By Kerry Alison Wekelo
As college seniors put the finishing touches on their academic careers, they’re looking forward to finally entering the workforce with those hard-earned degrees in hand.
But for many of them, the first weeks and months at a new job could prove stressful and at times frustrating as they struggle to fit into their new company’s culture.
“It’s exciting to be fresh out of college and launching the career you dreamed about for four years,” says Kerry Alison Wekelo, author of Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture (www.kerryalison.com).
“Unfortunately, class work, internships and work studies may not have completely prepared these students for the pressures and expectations of fulltime employment. If they fail to adapt to the company culture, you can end up with low morale on the part of the employee, and disappointment from the employer that the new hire they were so excited about didn’t work out.”
Luckily, both the employee and employer can take steps to improve the odds that this first job out of college is a shining success, Wekelo says. Those steps include:
- Make sure this is the right fit. The path to a smooth transition for an employee fresh out of college begins with the hiring process, Wekelo says. Both the employer and the prospective employee need to feel that this will be a good fit. Otherwise, one or both parties may soon experience regret. “Taking the time to find the exact match is well worth the time and energy,” she says. “If you have any doubt, the answer is no.”
- Understand the importance of benefits. A new college graduate might be tempted to grab the first opportunity and not pay much attention to the benefits the company offers. But to avoid a form of new-employee buyer’s remorse, they need to determine what benefits they consider a must and what’s not a priority for them. At the same time, Wekelo says, a business can more successfully attract and keep the best people by offering a generous benefits package. Beyond retirement benefits, health benefits and paid time off, she says, other benefits could include educational opportunities and rewards programs.
- Put a priority on wellness. It’s important that employees know that their company doesn’t only care about their work, but also cares about their health and happiness, Wekelo says. Meanwhile, those young employees accustomed to all-night parties and ramen-noodle diets need to understand that maintaining good mental and physical health translates into a more satisfying life at work. “If they take care of themselves – getting proper sleep, eating right, participating in hobbies that make them happy – they will perform better,” Wekelo says. Employers can do their part by promoting wellness, perhaps by offering nutritional snacks instead of donuts during meetings, and encouraging exercise.
“The great thing from an employer’s standpoint is that these steps will not only help with any recent college students,” Wekelo says, “but also with all employees no matter how experienced they are.”
About Kerry Alison Wekelo
Kerry Alison Wekelo (www.kerryalison.com) is managing director of human resources and operations for Actualize Consulting. She also is author of Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture. Among her other accomplishments, Wekelo is a yoga teacher, life coach, award-winning author of children’s books, and the founder of Zendoway, a company that encourages holistic wellness.