Hiring new staff is an exciting time for employers and managers. However, it’s important to put yourself in the new hire’s shoes and understand how they might feel overwhelmed. There isn’t an exact science to the training process because it can vary so much from workplace to workplace, but we’ve asked some experienced higher-ups who have done their fair share of training to let us in on some of their secrets.
Check out the top tips on how to help new hires avoid feeling overwhelmed in their first weeks on the job.
Pace the Training
One of the worst things you can do for a new hire is to give them everything they need to know for the job up front. While it can be tempting to print out a massive packet of information and give it to them at the beginning of their training, it is often better to spread out the information you need them to know so it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming.
“Information overload is a real thing for new hires,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You. “You have to remember they’re dealing with more new experiences than what you’re telling them.
Their entire schedule is changing too so everything from the time they need to get up in the morning to what they can do after work and how long it takes to get everywhere is new too. Dropping all of the information in their laps on the first day can be pretty stressful. Instead, set some time aside each morning to go over the types of information you will cover that day and pace the training.”
Create an Itinerary
Building off of the idea of pacing the training, it can often be helpful for both the trainer and the trainee to have an itinerary. More often than not, your new hire will train with more than one person. Having an itinerary helps everyone involved. It lets the new hire know what they’ll be doing each day and gives a bit more stability to a day that otherwise may feel overwhelming.
“Regardless of how long your training process is going to be, it helps to have an itinerary to give your staff an understanding of what’s going on,” says Vincent R. Chan, Chief Financial Officer of Christina. “It helps the new hire get a feel for the flow of the day and your other staff will understand what’s going on a bit better too.”
Ask Recent Hires for Advice
Who better to tell you what parts of the training and new hire process caused overwhelm than the people who just went through the process themselves? Ask your recent hires who have had some time to settle into their jobs to let you know what parts of their first weeks on the job caused them to feel overwhelmed.
“Your recent hires are a fantastic resource to ask about the current training procedures and their perception of the experience,” says Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing and Communications at RPM. “Not only will this be insightful for you, but it allows your new hires to feel a sense of value. You can ask your new hires to let you know immediately after training, but that question may actually provoke a feeling of overwhelm so waiting a few days or a week can be helpful too.
Break Down Job Components
Even if the job requires them to pivot from one job component to another on a regular basis, it can be easier for your new staff to acclimate and avoid feeling overwhelmed if they’re given time to learn and grasp one area before moving to another. As you’re planning out the training itinerary, try to avoid throwing multiple tasks at them at the same time.
“Give them time to learn one thing before starting another,” says John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner at Berry Law. “Even if the task itself is not difficult, it can be difficult for the new hire to keep all of the information straight for each type of activity. For example, even if you are using totally different programs for orders and shipping and for accounting, showing the programs to a new hire back-to-back may cause them to run together and seem confusing.”
Give Them Time to Breathe
We’ve mentioned several times already that it’s important to remember to view things from the trainee’s perspective. While you may feel like what you’re doing in training is easy, to the new hire there is often a lot of information being taken in at once. (Even if there is a great itinerary)
“Schedule breaks and times to reflect or practice some of the things they’re learning about,” says Brett Estep, COO of Insured Nomads. “Allowing them to have even a few minutes between training sessions to grab some water, look over notes, and process information can be very helpful in preventing overwhelm. While introducing the basics of a job may seem like an easy job to you, this is all new to them and can be very overwhelming at first.”
Schedule Time to Review
Building time into the itinerary for training to allow your new hires to review material and ask questions can be helpful in avoiding overwhelm. This can also be helpful for you to understand what they might be struggling with and how you can help them avoid becoming overwhelmed by the things they’re not understanding before you continue training.
“A lot of times, it can be tempting to save time to review or ask questions at the end of the day,” says Haim Medine, Creative Director of Mark Henry. “However, there’s a chance you may overwhelm them by moving too quickly from one task to another if they don’t have this time in between. Schedule time to review each training subject before moving to a new subject area so they don’t forget a question or feel overwhelmed by the speed you’re providing information to them.”
Training new hires can be a challenge for all parties involved. The last thing you want to do is to overwhelm a new hire by not taking certain things into account. Some of the tips above could help you help new hires avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Putting yourself in their shoes is one of the best things you can do in evaluating your current training practices. Remember that everything in life is changing for them – not just their job. Give them time to breathe, ask questions, and pace the training well according to an itinerary.
Asking your recent hires who have gone through the training process for their opinions and advice can give you insight into what changes might help your new hires avoid feeling overwhelmed during their first weeks on the job.