When a new joiner enters the workplace, the clock starts ticking. As an employer or HR team, you have only a few weeks to ensure these joiners are warmly welcomed and have everything they need to succeed. It’s normal for them to feel nervous and anxious. Alleviating new job anxiety is to ensure that the newcomer does not feel worried or overwhelmed when they enter the new environment by making their experience as enjoyable and smooth as possible. In this article we will discuss the main causes of new job anxiety, and eleven top ways to alleviate it in the workplace.
The Main Sources of New Job Anxiety
New job anxiety can manifest itself in a few main ways, such as the employee having a fear of the unknown, fear of a lack of socialization, and the onset of imposter syndrome. All three are common thoughts and feelings, but crucially, all can be managed and mitigated.
When an employee starts a new job, they will often wonder what they have let themselves in for. They might know a lot about the company but not necessarily its people or the working culture. These unknowns can be daunting, and cause feelings of new job anxiety or bring about negative thoughts which might impact how the employee settles in. In some cases, this fear becomes so severe that performance is affected.
Most employees crave socialization opportunities at work, so not knowing what co-workers will be like can be a leading cause of new job anxiety. Questions like “Will people like me?”, “Will I fit in?” or “Will I make friends?” will create apprehension and lead employees to worry about being accepted in the workplace, as if they aren’t, this could lead to an unhappy and lonely work life in the long run.
Imposter syndrome is the feeling of not being right for the role, such as being judged on underperformance, being under-qualified, or not experienced enough for the role. These feelings often manifest during an employee’s first few weeks or months, as they become aware of work practices and tasks that seem beyond their abilities, even though the main reasons for this is because they are now and haven’t learned the required processes yet. Nevertheless, imposter syndrome is a major component of new job anxiety and can lead people to resign shortly after they join.
Twelve Ways to Alleviate New Job Anxiety
Cause of new job anxiety can be mitigated with careful management and awareness from leaders and HR teams. Here are some of the best ways to do this.
Clarify the Role
Providing clear definitions of roles and responsibilities will remove feelings of ‘the unknown’ and, to some extent, imposter syndrome. Clarifying the role can happen through writing job descriptions and offering new joiners regular check-in chats (and probation reviews) where performance can be assessed and measured according to established standards. This framework can provide support and reassurance to uncertain employees.
Define the Work Culture
Work culture is intangible and difficult to explain during an interview, but it can be communicated or established through statements and imagery. Helping employees understand the work culture and values is important as these can rarely be changed or moved. Working culture into interview questions can help recruiters find employees who are culturally aligned and therefore more likely integrate into whatever type of organizational culture is already in place.
Foster Connections in the Workplace
Establishing and fostering connections in the workplace is an important part of employee socialization. This can be achieved in two main ways. Firstly, social committees and team activities will aid the forming of relationships and build a sense of fun for newcomers to experience. Secondly, integrating newcomers in buddy systems and small teams will further promote this sense of belonging.
Take Advantage of Communication Tools
Internal communication in the workplace can be used for many different benefits, but it can alleviate new job anxiety as well. Using internal social media or bulletin boards to announce and introduce new joiners can help immerse them into the workplace. If your workplace has internal WhatsApp groups or Teams spaces, then introducing new joiners here (and in live meetings) can integrate them into workgroups quickly and easily.
Address Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can be addressed through openly communicating to newcomers what they are expected to achieve in their first few months of employment, commonly referred to as a probation period. Providing a list of expectations, offering frequent one-to-one meetings, and giving timely and accurate feedback will help alleviate new job anxiety. Encouraging newcomers to share how they feel, as well as their concerns, will also help break the barriers that imposter syndrome often creates.
Arrange Practical Details Beforehand
As much as possible, give newcomers all the information they need to start their new job in advance of them joining. This can include the job description, probation periods, a list of expectations as well as what to expect in the first new months of employment. This will help to demystify the feelings of not being sure what to expect.
Prepare Objectives and Development Plans
Goals and development targets offer more great ways to alleviate new job anxiety. New employees who have been set personal and professional goals are less likely to suffer from imposter syndrome as they are fully aware of the expectations placed upon them and can analyze their own performance accordingly. Another good reason to set goals is that it makes the job less ambiguous for new joiners as they will understand what needs to get done.
Mentors function in a similar way to buddies, but with a focus on a longer-term relationship and learning from a more senior manager rather than a colleague or supervisor. Mentoring is regarded by newcomers as an incredible investment in their potential. It takes effort, patience, and skill, and demonstrates that the company really cares about nurturing talent. Mentors can often provide a ‘been there, done that’ approach to onboarding, relating to newcomers the realities of working the organization.
Automate Administrative Tasks
Administration can be very frustrating for all parties, as it takes them away from learning and leave new joiners feeling very frustrated due to filling in paperwork or new starter documentation. Automation services can streamline these tasks through automatically sending documents to new joiners, enrolling them on e-Learning or payroll systems, and managing statutory elements of onboarding. This gives managers more time to ensure newcomers are settling in well.
Outlining for new joiners the resources they need is essential to make onboarding less ambiguous. This in turn will reduce new job anxiety because the employee will know where, when and who to reach out to if they need support in any element of their job. They will also feel less of a hindrance and more empowered.
Use Feedback as a Tool
Giving new joiners effective feedback removes a lot of new job anxiety as it will stop newcomers guessing how they are doing, thus removing uncertainty and imposter syndrome. Effective feedback requires motivation and honest, timely advice about how the job is going. It is framed against goals and job descriptions to ensure maximum accuracy.
Remember that stress is physiological. During stressful situations, the body releases stress hormones. The primary hormone is called cortisol which brings about the body’s natural fight-or-flight mode. If the body experiences chronic stress, this can eventually lead to other harmful effects such as fatigue, irritability or headaches. Obviously, this is not the ideal condition for employees to produce their best work.
Educate employees about simple stress relieving tips such as:
- Take breaks when you need them
- Practice deep breathing techniques
- Get a good night’s sleep (experts recommend 7 to 9 hours)
- Make the time to connect with others and maintain a support system
- Practice mindfulness
- Reducing caffeine intake
Minimizing new job anxiety is essential for helping your newcomers succeed, removing unnecessary labor turnover and contributing to engaged workplaces. Doing so isn’t easy, but there are a few good ways to lessen the impact of fearing the unknown, impostor syndrome, and loneliness in the workplace. Managers and HR should take time to implement effective onboarding systems using the above tips in order to create happy workplaces that are renowned for an incredible onboarding experience.