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Smoothing the Path for New Hires

Ask any group of NC State employees how smoothly they navigated their first few months on the job and you’re likely to hear a common thread – a catalog of misadventures and missed opportunities. Park in an SV space when you have a C permit and risk having your car towed (don’t ask how I figured that out). Neglect to sign up for health coverage in the first 30 days and find your benefit options significantly limited.

Even with the best of intentions, you can get into a lot of trouble when you’re new.

Too Many Pieces

“The new hire experience here is very chopped up,” says Stephanie Kelber. “There are so many pieces of it all over the place. You might get seven or eight communications from different departments your first week. It’s confusing when you’re new and know nothing about campus.”

A team of professionals from across campus is working to create an onboarding center. In photo at top, Stephanie Kelber leads a discussion about next steps.

Kelber should know. She’s the human resources professional who’s been tapped to spearhead the creation of a center dedicated to coordinating all the activities involved in processing new hires. The onboarding center, which hopes to find a home in the Joyner Visitor Center on the west side of campus, is scheduled to be up and running in the spring.

If all goes as planned, newly hired employees will be able to take advantage of a wide range of services through the center, including a Web portal for many of the standardized processes currently done by hand, such as filling out tax withholding forms. The center will also offer personalized assistance for more complex tasks, such as selecting benefits.

New employee orientation – now a daylong workshop that covers an exhaustive list of topics – may eventually be divided into a number of separate components that would be offered online as well as face-to-face over a period of months, Kelber says.

In the Spotlight

At an implementation meeting yesterday, members discussed ways to improve the delivery of new employee orientation.

The new hire center is the first shared services center envisioned by University Business Operations, a new division charged with streamlining and improving HR and finance services on campus. All eyes will be on the new center, Kelber says, to see if reality matches expectations. But she’s not worried about the outcome.

“We know exactly what we need to fix,” she says. “We know the best practices we need to follow, we have smart people on campus who know how to make it happen, and we have support across the university.”

The goal, Kelber says, goes beyond helping new employees process paperwork.

“Onboarding is more than saying, ‘Hello, here’s your parking pass and ID. Good luck.’ It’s about equipping new employees with everything they need to be productive in their job in the first year of employment,” she says. “They need the right kind of training and development, they need to know about our community and our culture – all the things that matter.”

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