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Employees are much better at adapting to career transitions in their company if they feel a connection from the very beginning.

Research conducted by Professor Yanjun Guan and PhD students, Lanyue Fan and Zehua Li, from Management and Marketing, alongside colleagues from other universities around the world, examined how socialisation practices, such as training, future prospects discussions and co-worker support, predict new employees’ adaptability during their career transitions. 

About the study 

The researchers interviewed almost 500 newcomers in an IT company in China that provided newcomers with an intensive socialisation plan at the beginning of their organisational entry. Newcomers were then interviewed at three different time periods during their first six months about the socialisation tactics used, as well as their adaptability to changes in their role. 

Results revealed that an effective socialisation programme for newcomers to the organisation had a huge benefit on those employees – they not only felt more connected to the company, but in turn, were more effective at dealing with career changes like developmental tasks, work traumas and occupational transitions. 

Professor Yanjun Guan says, 

“In a career world characterised by increasing job mobility and frequent career transitions, an individual’s ability to cope with changes plays a critical role in facilitating individuals' adaptation in their career transitions.

Often it is thought that the ability to be adaptable comes from a person’s own characteristics, previous experiences or personality, but our research clearly shows that an effective onboarding strategy designed around key socialisation tactics can actually make new employee’s more adaptable to future transitions.” 

Taking care of newcomers 

Results suggest that organisations must pay attention to and take care of their newcomers by offering them the required and valuable resources during this stage, such as mentoring and proper leadership behaviours at work. This helps address and compensate for newcomers' anxiety and uncertainty during organisational entry. 

Effective onboarding of newcomers can also ensure they have career adaptability when it comes to transitions, something that many previously believed was more related to the employee’s characteristics and personality. Additionally, researchers found that actively participating in training, mentorship and other socialisation tactics at the beginning of an employee’s journey with a company can also boost adaptability, enabling them to effectively cope with future career transitions. 

However, the researchers did find that an employee having a widely varied experience before joining the company actually did not benefit so much from those socialisation practices, which suggest that their varied prior experience served as another important source of learning, making them rely less on organisational arrangements to adapt to the new environment.  

Finally, results suggest that organisations within sectors characterised by abundant mobility opportunities and high turnover rates should include retention strategies when designing socialisation practices to maximise the benefits of their organisational socialisation tactics.  

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