It’s not what’s on your desk on the first day, it’s the people every day

its the people blogI do let out a little chuckle when I see pictures on social media channels which appear to show a new starters first day. Is there a t-shirt with a corporate logo? Is there a brand new top-of-the-line mobile phone? An iPad? A box of chocolates? A branded mug? An inspirational quote to start you off on your new career of success?

I’m not against welcoming people and making them feel happy and excited about their new world of work. Indeed, everyone should have the excitement of what it feels like to be starting a new life adventure, but I guess what I’m really getting at here is the materialistic element of when I see somebody taking a picture of their new desk with a whole bag of goodies on. But also I think this misses one of the most fundamental parts of joining a new company:

The people.

It is your new work colleagues who will shape and frame what your working life will be like. It is the way you are treated as an employee by your line manager, senior management, colleagues, direct reports and other peers in different departments. If you find an organisation where you have a collective of people who care about the job they do but also care about being a team together and sharing successes together, then all of the paraphernalia on the planet isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference if it’s sat on your desk on the first day. These items are just hygiene factors. They don’t determine how you will feel in six months’ time. They don’t even determine how you will feel in a week. They are the ‘here and now’. But in a week’s time, or a month’s time, if you are in an office environment that has people in it who seem to genuinely care about helping you succeed, then I bet you’d trade in your branded merchandise in a heartbeat.

We run an annual employee engagement survey at SEC and one of the most pleasing elements for me when I read the 2016 results at the beginning of 2017, was from some of the staff who gave comments about how there is a very good peer-to-peer support network in our office. To me that is so important. You should always expect guidance and direction from your line manager or those in strategic positions setting the vision and direction of the company, but without peer-to-peer support that you can call on when you have something that you don’t think you can discuss with your manager or anybody in a more senior position, you need to know that you have people who will help you.

That kind of environment is invaluable. It creates a real ‘family’ feel to a workplace and given the choice I would always choose that over a branded item that is sat on my desk with a note saying ‘welcome to the team. Now get to work!’.

If you work at SEC you’ll be given the support network you need to succeed and what will underpin that will be our values – trust, honesty, integrity and commitment. You can ask any of the team about these values and what they mean to them as an individual, but I always keep my door open, because I want everyone in the organisation I run to feel that they can speak about whatever they wish.


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