I have worked with a lot of people on their first day on the job. I have had a few first-days over the years myself. The first day can be nerve-wracking, confusing and a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of names, rules and general information pieces to remember. Recall not just your first day on the job, but your first day on your FIRST job.
Parents are a good source of expertise regarding the first day. Here are some things to teach your kids about their first day so they don’t turn into the type of worker that has a lot of “first days” and never seems to get how it all works.
Basic housekeeping information: Talk to your kids about gathering the information they need ahead of time. They may not think to ask about where to park (if they drive), if they need to bring a lunch, or which particular person they should check in with. The whole process is foreign and it is important to gather some of the basic, logistical pieces of information that will make them less confused. Here are a few more things worth discussing:
- Does the company have a cell phone policy? Talk to them about putting their phone away at work.
- What is the dress code? Tell them start out conservative until they learn the real environment.
- Get there early. Many people don’t factor in traffic, accidents or other delays.
- Get some rest. New jobs are exciting. And it is not the time to stay up late or skip breakfast the next day. Just like you talk to your kids about the proper approach to school testing, do the same for their first job.
A little anthropology: Anthropology is the study of humanity. This includes culture. Each workplace has its own culture and behaviors of the humans that work there. This can be one of the trickiest parts of fitting in at a new job. Conversations with your kids about how to slowly join a new culture are valuable and sadly, often missed. Many people, even seasoned workers, don’t understand how to ease into a new culture without quickly upsetting or even offending those that are already there. Here are some ideas of how to do this:
- Observe the workers first. Listen more than you talk. Take your time before you offer opinions or comments.
- Look for unspoken rules or traditions. These subtleties can make a team cohesive, but they won’t be written in print. They are little things like using only company logo’d coffee mugs or not making a mess of the newspaper in the kitchen. Being a bull in a china shop on your first day will not win over the longer term employees.
- Avoid cliques, gossip and office politics. Seasoned employees might like to quickly recruit new employees to their agendas. Educate on how to be watchful of such ploys and recommend staying clear and avoiding commitments right out of the shoot.
- Don’t EVER bad mouth the company or a previous employer…or anyone. The world is small in this regard and you never know who might know someone else or who you might offend. Keep opinions to yourself.
Safety: Many jobs are not in an office and job sites can have safety concerns. This is one area where is it ok to speak up, ask questions and voice safety concerns. Many first time workers don’t understand safety protocols. The good news is that most employers are very safety conscious. However, it doesn’t hurt to talk about on-the-job safety. Make sure your kids understand that if they do get hurt, they have the right to report it and cannot be adversely affected for reporting an injury.
Discussions that cover these topics at home will give your kids a huge advantage when they move into the working world. Questions will come up and parents are wonderful resources. Start the conversations.