What Do Federal New Hires Need?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Nicholas Charney 8 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #88601

    GovLoop has an opportunity to create a resource page for people who are new to Federal employment. Do you remember when you were first hired? Maybe you were hired in the last year! Maybe you worked for government and now you’re a contractor, but you have some ideas that could help people who are new to government. Help us build this resource by answering a few questions

    1. What worked well to on-board you?
    2. What would you have liked to experience in the on-boarding process?
    3. Do you know of exceptional on-boarding programs in government?
    3. What kinds of tools and information are critical to get new hires off on the right foot?
    4. What training is helpful for new hires and who provides it?
    5. What are the most common websites that new hires visit and need to navigate?
    6. Do you know of great books or authors (i.e. regular columnists) that offer advice and explain how the system works to people who are new to Federal employment?

    Share with us anything and everything that you think can make the lives of Federal new hires easier…we’ll see if we can’t put together a one-stop shop to help out our new colleagues.

    Thank you!

  • #88641

    Nicholas Charney

    Hey Andrew

    One of the first things I did when I started blogging was interview a new hire about their on-boarding (Canadian Federal) experience. You may also be interested in this conversation with new public servants, also posted to my blog.

    Nothing beats drawing lessons out of first hand experiences.

    I hope this endeavor is fruitful, there is something similar going on inside the GCPEDIA.


  • #88639

    Steve Ressler

    Couple ideas:

    -I think a lot of the how-tos like dealing with your manager, co-workers
    -Basics like dressing, showing up early, value of what people perceive
    -The basic work tips – how to act in a meeting, a teleconference, etc
    -Tips on learning more about govt – read govloop but also list of other good sites – for example the sites our digg-like govzine compiles the likes of fcw, dorobek, gcn, govexec, and there are a few more that rock
    -Some cool associations for new employees like YGL

  • #88637

    I think that the Partnership for Public Service’s publication – Getting on Board – is a great primer on on-boarding. If agencies followed these principles, we would all be better off. I think that all the benefits paperwork should be done prior to reporting for work and there are automated on-boarding systems for helping employees to do that.

    An overview of the misssion and culture of the organization is critical. Also, there are practical applications, such as how e-mail/web communications work, how T&A is done, how the travel system is supposed to work, and other tools of the trade.

    Employees also need to know about the work/life related services and benefits available, such as fitness faciltiies, telework procedures, and other services available to employees to make their worklife less stressful.

    I also think that having a co-worker serve as a “buddy” to guide you through the beaucracy is also important.

  • #88635

    Great interview, Nick! Both serve as models for things we could do with the site…thanks!

  • #88633

    Teri Centner

    Figuring out a way to streamline issuing of badges and computer accounts is key. Having to get signed in as a visitor until you have a “real” badge is annoying to both the new hire and her office; not being able to login to a computer in this day and age pretty much equals not being able to do work. So if there’s some way to get that paperwork through *before* the first day of work, that would be quite a coup.

  • #88631

    Wow, Terry – can ALWAYS rely on your for the best information. Thanks.

    Have you seen anything that is a primer for the new hires themselves?

    – Welcome to government.
    – Here’s how it works.
    – Understand your benefits.
    – Etc.

    I know my former employers (the Graduate School) has a course called “Your First Federal Job.” As an aside, they also have an “Improving Retention Through Strategic Onboarding” course…and I believe they are working with the Partnership on something related to onboarding.

    Know of other training, books, etc. like it?

  • #88629

    Thanks, Teri. I wonder if there are agencies that get this right…that have a best practice process that can be replicated across other agencies…

  • #88627

    Steve Ressler

    How about stuff like “Finding and identifying a mentor”…”How to find your 2nd job”…”Managing your boss”…

  • #88625

    I can think of a few different employers and my first week or so. What I needed during that time was different depending on my job. Such as:
    – File organization system: Some agencies had things organized by the last or first name of whoever did the job before I got there. Or, by contract number. Or by any number of things that have no meaning whatsoever to the new guy or gal. One’s job may be to re-organize, but it would help to know how to navigate the existing system.
    – List of Acronyms. “John, did you receive my POL …” So, is that Parts, Oil, and Lubricants (what that could mean in the Army), Personnel something, Philosophical Objection Lesson, etc.
    – The Picture, as in, what’s important that’s going on, whether it be aircraft to an Air Traffic Controller, or other things.
    – When to expect the Gut Truck is nice (the observant new-hire will usually notice, especially when half the crew grabs cash and runs off for snacks), or where the nearest coffee shop is.
    – Security protocals. If you’re new you won’t know specific tasks or procedures to protect data, gain access to areas, or recognize people that shouldn’t be in an area.
    – Time. There are often competing expectations – that you complete administrative training and paperwork AND that you get your job done, too. A manager just needs to factor some time into their subordinate’s schedules so they can address both expectations.

  • #88623

    Steve Ressler

    At my old gig…I actually created a Survival Guide with lots of this info…the unwritten rules per se…Plus where all the cool stuff was nearby.

  • #88621

    Steve Ressler

    There are probably different levels to on-boarding:

    -For fresh out of college…adjusting to work generally.
    -For more seasoned folks…
    probably goes general atmosphere (maybe government, TSP, etc)
    -rough landscape (your department, mission, values, etc)
    -micro-level (wheres coffee, how do we fill out time, who is cool in the office, best local restaurant)
    -project level (whos my boss, what am i supposed to be working on)

  • #88619

    Sue Hahn

    In my 12 years, I have seen a lot of new hires come through my office but for some reason, we RARELY manage to get their computer, email account, and phone lines activated on time. And as a result, they are stuck for the first several days of work reading lots of reports or manuals or other random papers as opposed to getting involved in “real work.” This seems like a very basic, very easily addressable failure that ought to be fixed in a heartbeat.

  • #88617

    Richard Wong

    We have the same phenom in our agency as well. Wouldn’t it be great if the new hire could use that “downtime” (free of the distraction of a telephone and computer) to shadow a mentor or to read the agency’s personnel manual, before their “real work” began?

  • #88615

    L P O’Neil

    If someone tells you “that’s the way we’ve always done it” look for a better answer and better yet, replace the broken status quo with an improved process or solution.

    Align yourself with the information mavens, the knowledge managers who understand where the flaws are then work on eliminating the flaws.

    Cross polinate, share your knowledge and experience, and insist on improving efficiency. Document your efforts. Write up best practices because when the process steps are outlined in detail, the erroneous assumptions, time sinks, wasted steps appear and you have a roadmap for process improvement.

    Build your own team.

  • #88613

    David Kuehn

    When I cam on board — and I suspect the same is true to many others in federal and state government — I relocated and faced a difficult transition. Now with new employees both permanent and temporary, I make sure to ask about their expectations and concerns about living in a new location and refer them to peers or services that will help smooth their transition. In many cases it is the difficulties outside of work that lead to difficulties at work. Looking at the whole person is important.

  • #88611

    What we’re creating here through our responses is really a great guide for managers and supervisors!

    As a follow-up question: are there websites or books or similar resources where you could direct the new hire to learn about government and the way it works? Would be cool to build/share resources for them…

  • #88609

    The Merit Systems Protection Board just released some results from a survey of Federal new hires:


    Federal Diary: Federal Employees’ Top Needs For Advancing Their Career

    The Washington Post
    By Joe Davidson

    The Merit Systems Protection Board asked federal employees which behaviors and characteristics help advance a federal career. Here are the top such factors, along with the percentage of employees who said it would be helpful:

    — A supportive supervisor to encourage my development and advancement (85 percent)
    — Senior person/mentor (other than my supervisor) looking out for my interests (85 percent)
    — Ability/willingness to take on challenging work assignments (80 percent)
    — High-quality past work experience (80 percent)
    — Contacts who knew the selecting official and recommended me (78 percent)
    — Extensive past work experience (78 percent)
    — Specialized or technical training (78 percent)
    — Formal educational qualifications (76 percent)
    — Acting in a position prior to appointment (76 percent)
    — Developmental assignments to improve the depth of my experience (75 percent)


    Do you agree?

  • #88607

    Steve Ressler

    So key…a new job is often requiring a move and lots of little things needed. New place to stay, friends, banks, restaurants, etc…

  • #88605

    Dan Gephart

    Agency missions and cultures are so different, that I think a certain part of onboarding needs to focus on how things work specifically at that particular agency. Also, from the HR/manager side, I know managing leave is a huge, complicated issue. It would be beneficial to all if employees had an overview of how leave works in the federal government early on in the process. And employees should also be made aware of their EEO rights and responsibilities. No only does it make sense, but it’s required by the NoFEAR Act.

  • #88603

    Anastasia Bodnar

    Terry, thank you so much for sharing the PPS document. It’s really great! I’m going to use it as a guide for making an onboarding process at my agency!

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