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Find the right fit with new college grads

Kerry Alison Wekelo

Graduation season is upon us and new college grads are looking forward to finally entering the workforce with those hard-earned degrees in hand.

For many of them, though, the first weeks and months at a new job could prove stressful and, at times, frustrating as they struggle to fit into their new company’s culture, says Kerry Alison Wekelo, author of “Culture Infusion: 9 Principles to Create and Maintain a Thriving Organizational Culture.”

“It’s exciting to be fresh out of college and launching the career you dreamed about for four years,” says Wekelo. “Unfortunately, class work, internships and work studies may not have completely prepared these students for the pressures and expectations of full-time employment. If they fail to adapt to the company culture, you can end up with low morale on the part of the employee and disappointment from the employer that the new hire they were so excited about didn’t work out.”

Luckily, both the employee and employer can take steps to improve the odds that this first job out of college becomes a shining success, Wekelo says. Those steps include:

Make sure this is the right fit
The path to a smooth transition for an employee fresh out of college begins with the hiring process, Wekelo says. Both the employer and the prospective employee need to feel that this will be a good fit. Otherwise, one or both parties may soon experience regret. “Taking the time to find the exact match is well worth the time and energy,” she says. “If you have any doubt, the answer is no.”

Understand the importance of benefits
A new college graduate might be tempted to grab the first opportunity and not pay much attention to the benefits the company offers. But to avoid a form of new-employee buyer’s remorse, they need to determine what benefits they consider a must and what’s not a priority for them. At the same time, Wekelo says, a business can more successfully attract and keep the best people by offering a generous benefits package. Beyond retirement benefits, health benefits and paid time off, she says, other benefits could include educational opportunities and rewards programs.

Put a priority on wellness
It’s important that employees know their company doesn’t just care about their work, but also about their health and happiness, Wekelo says. At the same time, those young employees accustomed to all-night parties and ramen-noodle diets need to understand that maintaining good mental and physical health translates into a more satisfying life at work. “If they take care of themselves – getting proper sleep, eating right, participating in hobbies that make them happy – they will perform better,” Wekelo says. Employers can do their part by promoting wellness, perhaps by offering nutritional snacks instead of donuts during meetings, and encouraging exercise.

“The great thing from an employer’s standpoint is that these steps will not only help with any recent college students,” Wekelo says, “but also with all employees no matter how experienced they are.”