Like many new employees, Mary Kay Soesbe was nervous about starting a new job when she was hired in October, 2019 in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education.
“My previous position was with a small family business that grew into a large corporate owned office,” said Soesbe, who works as an office support specialist. “I didn’t know how I could possibly fit in at a university.”
Soesbe’s concerns were quickly met with reassurance thanks to a program of the Employee Assistance Program and Training Center, Leading Employees to Success (L.E.T.S.). Founded in 2019, the program is a reflection of the university’s effort to commit resources towards supporting faculty and staff development.
“The premise of L.E.T.S. is to welcome, help, and onboard new employees to assist in their success,” said Susan Swegle, training and development specialist, Employee Assistance Program and Training Center. “Onboarding is so important in acclimating, engaging and retaining employees.”
L.E.T.S. staff members make initial contact with new employees on or soon after their hire date and continue contact by offering a mentor/contact person to guide them through their first few months at NIU. In addition, new employees and their supervisors receive weekly reminders, resources, support and tips to aid the onboarding experience.
“We hope new employees experience NIU as welcoming, inclusive and committed to supporting their efforts to succeed,” said Swegle, who is an adviser and mentor to the L.E.T.S. program. “We also hope it encourages supervisors to expand their onboarding techniques so that ongoing training, feedback and communication occur.”
And based on employee feedback, it’s working.
“It allowed me to find my footing and made me feel at home which was really critical especially for the first few months of my employment at NIU,” Soesbe said. “Knowing that I had someone to contact and that someone was on my side rooting for my success made me want do my best at my job.”
Soesbe said having a mentor available to guide her through the transition was important as she started her new career.
“I think it’s important to feel like there is someone on your side and that you are accepted as part of a team,” Soesbe said. “Making a transition to a new position with a personal contact has been so much easier; the L.E.T.S. program gave me that support I needed.”
L.E.T.S is just one service the Employee Assistance Program and Training Center provides to employees and supervisors. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 753-9191 for more information on counseling, training, coaching, wellness, and personal development opportunities.