“Apart from technical knowledge, most of the ITWs find it challenging learning the soft skills needed for a job in the field. To encourage them to grow within their previous experience; we have rotational programs. We try to put them in areas of previous experience in their home countries by matching them to determine what they are best at doing.”

- Industry employer

“Most of the time ITWs move to bigger cities because they feel they have more opportunities or services available to them. This can sometimes create a negative impression with regard to the line manager who has invested so much in getting them up to speed only for them to move away. ITWs often move because they are not aware of the availability of local support.”

- Industry employer

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a process designed to welcome and educate new employees to an organization. Onboarding can allow new ITWs to learn about their new organization’s structure, vision and values as well as to complete benefit and legal paperwork. Depending on the organization and the type of hire, this process could last anywhere from one day to two weeks and is sometimes referred to as “New Hire Orientation.” Some organizations create onboarding programs that can last up to two years.

Why create an onboarding program for ITWs in the electricity sector?

  1. Helps new ITWs to an organization or location feel welcome.
  2. Helps ITWs be better prepared sooner to meet the challenges of the sector.
  3. More likely to improve retention of ITWs.

Questions to ask when onboarding ITWs may include:

  1. How does your organization currently welcome new employees? Is the welcoming process received well by new ITWs?
  2. What is your organization’s commitment to diversity? Is this being explicitly communicated to new employees either before or directly following their start date?
  3. Is the experience of Canadian-educated employees different from that of ITWs? If so, how? If a difference exists, what could be done to close the gap?
  4. How knowledgeable on the subject of diversity are the recruitment and hiring personnel, training facilitators and senior leaders in recognizing and responding to the differing needs of ITWs?
  5. How are new ITWs assigned during peer sponsoring and mentoring?
  6. How are your competitors onboarding their ITWs?
  7. Who leaves your organization before two years’ tenure? What do their exit interviews tell you about what was wrong and/or missing from their onboarding experience?
  8. Do you check in with ITWs within the first three months of employment to determine the quality of their experience and their sense of the organization? If your organization offers this feedback opportunity, are you clear that an ITW’s candour during this process will not impact their continued employment?

Some Practical Action Tips

  1. Coach the people most likely to have first contact with potential or new ITWs to properly articulate the organization’s mission, vision, values and philosophy with regard to diversity.
  2. Design helpful information pointers to services within the region that can assist ITWs in their transition to life in the area, if applicable (e.g. the community centres, social services, etc).
  3. Create a robust schedule for each ITW’s first day on the job, including a meeting with his or her manager and HR, required paperwork (payroll, benefits, etc.), briefing on all aspects of the employee’s job description, a celebratory lunch with the new manager (which could also include key team members), an appointment with IT or other groups to receive necessary resources (laptop, safety equipment, tools etc.), and an end-of-day check-in to ensure that the new employee is starting the new job on a positive note.
  4. Create a checklist for the individual or person acting as mentor or “buddy”, which may include who to introduce the new employee to on the tour and facilities to show him or her (e.g. washroom, cafeteria, etc.)
  5. Encourage Affinity Groups (e.g. sexual orientation, disability, culture, ITWs, etc) if any exist within your organization, to create peer sponsor programs for new members. Following is a sample New Hire Orientation checklist that you can adapt to your needs.