Starting a new job or moving to a new environment can be an exciting but also anxiety-provoking experience for many people. The unfamiliarity of new people, processes, and surroundings can make anyone feel out of their element. While some anxiety is normal, excessive worry and stress can negatively impact performance and wellbeing. Implementing training targeted at easing the transition can help reduce anxiety levels and prime individuals for success.
Provide Overview Training On Company/Environment
One of the main sources of anxiety when entering a new workplace is simply not knowing what to expect. The unknown aspects make it difficult to mentally prepare and gain comfort. Providing broad overviews of the company policies, people, and layout ahead of the start date helps provide a framework for the new environment. This could include virtual tours of the office space, explanations of company hierarchy/reporting structures, and reviews of company policies like dress code. Giving clear guidelines on daily procedures like clocking in and scheduling breaks can also help reduce first day jitters. While it may not cover every detailed aspect, overview training establishes a solid basic understanding.
Perform Roleplaying Exercises
Practice makes perfect when it comes to reducing anxiety in new situations. Roleplaying exercises allow trainees to simulate common interactions and tasks before their first real days on the job. For customer facing positions, employees can rehearse greetings, sales pitches, and common customer questions. For office roles, trainees can walkthrough environment specific processes like submitting expenses, reserving meeting rooms, and using new software programs. Having a chance to make mistakes and receive feedback in a controlled practice setting helps build confidence. Rather than worrying about not knowing what to do, individuals gain the muscle memory and experience needed to succeed.
Highlight Available Resources
Another major stressor when entering unfamiliar territory is not knowing where to turn for help. Providing an overview of available resources helps new hires feel supported rather than stranded. Share information on who to contact for technical assistance, clarification on policies, or submitting requests. Ensure contact details for key team members are distributed. Also provide links to internal knowledge bases, FAQ sites, or chatbots that can provide rapid answers to common questions. Knowing where to find information is empowering and reduces the stress of unanswered questions. Periodic reminders on reaching out for assistance can encourage utilization of these resources.
Connect New Hires with Buddies/Mentors
Navigating a new environment alone can seem daunting. Providing a buddy or mentor helps create a lifeline for guidance and support. Coaches who have been through the onboarding process can offer tips, encouragement, and assistance when needed. They can also introduce new hires to other colleagues to help them start building connections right away. Having an advocate provides a safety net as individuals become acclimated to new processes and culture. Regular check-ins ensure they are receiving answers to questions as they come up. The buddy also gives new hires someone friendly to sit with or join for breaks.
Plan Social Events/Icebreakers
Anxiety has a social element when entering situations where you don't know anyone. Scheduling team building activities, games, or social events allows new hires to get to know co-workers in a fun, informal setting. Icebreakers encourage introductions and relationship building in a low stakes environment. Social events also show that camaraderie and inclusion are an important part of the workplace culture. Having friendly acquaintances makes coming into work less intimidating. Consider grouping new hires together so they can bond as an onboarding cohort and realize that others are going through the same experience.
After new employees start, it is important to conduct regular check-ins to see how they are adjusting. Often anxiety does not surface right away but builds gradually as work piles on. By opening the door to express concerns, managers allow issues to be addressed before they become overwhelming. A quick weekly or bi-weekly chat gives new hires the chance to ask questions, seek clarification on processes, and share feedback. Managers can provide reassurance that some anxiety is normal and reinforce that support resources are available. These interactions build trust and show the company cares. Any major issues identified can inform improvements to onboarding training.
Provide Feedback Loops
An important element of anxiety reduction is establishing predictability and routine. When entering unfamiliar situations, it is hard to know what to expect day to day. Providing clear feedback loops gives new hires insight into their performance and progress. Managers should clarify what success looks like in the role and set well-defined goals. Check-ins should provide concrete feedback on strengths, development areas, and performance results. Course corrective actions can be collaboratively discussed. Following scheduled performance reviews and providing mid-year updates further reinforces predictable patterns. Knowing the frequency for receiving feedback eases uncertainty.
Outline Growth Opportunities
Part of anxiety in a new role is not knowing what the future holds. Providing clarity on career development and advancement opportunities helps establish a vision for the future. This could include discussing promotion processes, outlining skills needed to progress, and explaining training programs available. Even if a defined career ladder is not in place, managers can identify potential growth possibilities once proficiency is achieved. This vision for the future helps reduce worry that the role is a dead end. Knowing there is a path forward makes the present anxiety more manageable.
Starting a high pressure job or moving to a new city can take a toll mentally and physically. Encouraging self-care practices helps manage the stress. Support taking regular breaks, unused vacation time, and mental health days as needed. Have resources available highlighting wellness programs, employee assistance services, and stress management techniques. Model healthy work life integration by not sending emails outside normal work hours. Build buffer time into schedules to avoid creating unmanageable workloads. Make new hires aware of these support systems to reduce the anxiety of burning out.
Beyond the job requirements, individuals experience anxiety about peripheral but important details like benefits, time-off policies, and norms around remote work or flexible schedules. Summarizing policies, programs, and cultural realities reduces the stress of trying to navigate ambiguity on these topics. Provide overviews of health insurance, retirement savings programs, and how to submit time off requests. Share typical approvals around remote work, expectations on responsiveness, and deadlines for requesting schedule changes. Establishing clarity around these logistical details alleviates stress.
Entering unfamiliar territory with a new job or move can inevitably provoke anxiety. However, implementing intentional training practices targeted at reducing stressors and creating support systems can help smooth transitions. From clarifying expectations to rehearsing scenarios and encouraging self-care, organizations can take proactive steps to ease anxiety levels. With greater competence and connection established ahead of time, new hires can enter their roles feeling equipped for success.