Staffing for Diversity
Part IV: Welcoming New Staff
Your chosen candidate has accepted your offer. Their start date is on the calendar.
Will your new employee receive a warm welcome? Will onboarding (employment-related forms and benefits enrollment) go smoothly? Will this newest member of your staff team receive the support they need to get off to a good start? Helpful resources for bringing on new staff, including a Welcoming and Onboarding Checklist and the GA 2016 "Got New Staff?" workshop video, can be found on our Staffing Practices webpage.
Think for a moment about how you felt as you got ready for your first day on a new job. Maybe you were unsure of how to dress, exactly where to go upon arrival, or whether there would be a refrigerator for your lunch. Maybe you were aware of difficult circumstances surrounding the departure of your predecessor or a split decision about hiring you. How you were treated during your first few days likely had a big influence on your sense of comfort and belonging, thus contributing to your ability to feel successful in the job.
For a member of a marginalized group, or anyone who is aware that some aspect of their identity is not the norm in your setting, the initial sense of uncertainty or unease can be magnified. Examining your first-day (and first-week) protocol is an opportunity to pave the way to a good experience for every new staff member. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Get Names Right: Calling someone what they want to be called, including saying and spelling their name correctly, is fundamental to showing that you see them and care about them. Your new hire may have used their legal name on application materials but prefers to go by a different form of their name. Do they want congregants and/or staff to address them by title (e.g., Reverend Chris or Reverend Romero, or Ms. Jan)? Ask how they wish to be addressed, and confirm the spelling and pronunciation. Make it part of your routine to do this for everyone, not just when someone has an "unusual" (to you) name.
- Demonstrate Gender Inclusivity: Ask about preferred pronouns. You may not be able to change legal forms from other sources but, at least in new-hire paperwork that your congregation creates, is the language gender-inclusive? Again, this is something you can do for everyone to signal that your workplace understands and celebrates gender diversity. And, of course, new staff will appreciate knowing where the bathrooms are. Do you have a convenient, gender-neutral restroom?
- Check Assumptions: As an example, you may be accustomed to everyone on staff driving themselves to work, and you're great about letting new staff know ahead of time where to park. But perhaps your new hire uses public transportation or gets dropped off by a relative. Clarifying where to park may be a courtesy, but could it inadvertently signal to a staff newcomer that they don't fit your expectations? In this situation, you might consider providing information that includes not just parking, but bus stop/route information and other transportation tips. What other assumptions are you making?
Looking at how you bring on new employees through the lens of diversity and inclusion can create a more intentional and welcoming experience for all staff.
- Respect Preferences: You're eager to add your new staff member's headshot to the staff display on the lobby bulletin board! Especially on an otherwise all-white staff, a person of color may be hesitant to have their picture posted, perhaps feeling that they are expected to help paint a picture of diversity. Take another example: the staff typically eat together in the kitchen, but the new employee declines your invitation. Offer opportunities - and then honor the employee's choices.
For previous articles in our Staffing for Diversity series, look for the August, September, and October editions of Compensation and Staffing News on the Office of Church Staff Finances Publications webpage.