Ahead of the Curve?

bathtub new start.jpg

New body, new home, new friends, new country, new job?

Any opportunity to start afresh could be seen as a gift. New beginnings are exciting, exhilarating and often a little bit scary.

If we are risk averse, we may never change or challenge ourselves. To fail to be risk aware may increase the chances of failure in something we want so much to succeed with!

As a business, having an accurate risk profile for each business area and a consolidated picture of the main risks builds trust amongst your employees, improves decision-making and provides transparency to your stakeholders. Being risk aware rather risk averse will show commitment in due diligent business practices and allow the business to grow through the commitment of each and every employee, including the new starter, who research shows is oh, so vulnerable.

Research published in the Toronto Institute for Work and Health’s Journal, At Work [Issue 69, if you are interested] showed that the risk of injury to workers is proportionately higher within the first month within a new job, in fact you are more than 3 times more likely to have a serious or lost time injury than someone else who has been doing your job for just a year.

interestingly age wasn’t a factor, just your ‘newness’, without over simplifying human failure, some parallels can be drawn, with the bath tub curve for 'burn in' and the risks to new starters within your business.

The bathtub curve is used in reliability testing and captures three phases of failure rates that are observed in products rather than people. The bathtub curve captures a higher but decreasing rate of failure at the beginning of the product lifetime, due to manufacturing defects[burn in], a lower failure rate throughout most of the usable lifetime of the product[useful life], and an increasing failure rate toward the end of the usable lifetime.

If we maintain the parallel, ‘manufacturing defects’ could be replaced with ‘lack of existing skill’ or ‘unfamiliarity with new systems or new environments’. No surprise of course, this person is new, however combine this lack of information or skill with a reluctance to seek help or ‘make a fuss’ and your new starters ‘burn in’ starts to look more like a towering inferno…

So what can you do to reduce the ‘burn in’ for a new starter and reduce the risks to them and those that they may pose to their co-workers? Here are our top three.

Buddy Up

Consider a clear buddy system and give it a framework. Apprenticeships are and were highly effective because of a good mixture of support and supervision and practical benchmarking.

Don’t let this stop ANYONE from helping your newbie out though, all employees should be actively encouraged to have the ‘can I help you- customer service’ chat with a lost looking soul, familiar face or not!

It’s Never Too Early to Involve

New starters should have the same volume voice as all employees, encourage them to speak up and contribute from the start, demonstrate that they have something valuable to say and that you are interested, this will persuade them that speaking out, asking why or how is a cultural norm and something they can and should do.

Clear Communications and Access to Information

Information sharing is happening much faster and more comprehensively than ever before so you need to ensure that standards that you want followed within your workplace are easy to access and promoted, unless you are happy with a workforce who will google their way out of a hazardous situation?

In short, look after your new starter, or A&E might have to!

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