Setting the Stage

by Christina Paciolla | Dec 27, 2017
Setting the Stage ...From the Pages of South Jersey Biz...

When South Jersey companies hire new employees, whether it’s in the health care, legal, technology or education fields, it’s important that human resources and managers are as clear as possible so expectations are unambiguous on both sides. From the initial job posting to ongoing training sessions once you’re hired, human resources officials have an obligation to people applying for these positions so that the new hire is a successful hire.

At Duane Morris, new employees are given a rundown of the company even before they start their first day. It’s a very important part of the process, says Mary Robinson, director of human resources who manages employee relations, staffing, training and employee benefits for the law firm.

New hires log onto an online portal and they can see what sorts of forms they are going to sign before they start. It has all of Duane Morris’ policies on there including vacation time, dress code, pay dates and much more.

“It takes some of the anxiety off our day one,” Robinson says of the practices at the more than 100-year-old firm, which is home to about 1,600 employees in all their offices. Robinson and her team are in charge of support staff; there’s a separate on-boarding process for potential lawyers.

Instead of using a recruiting company to field résumés that come in, Duane Morris does everything first through its in-house human resources department.

“We do screening and then we send them to the person who the position is for,” Robinson says. “We like to screen all applications to make sure they would be an appropriate hire. Sometimes we’ll collaborate with others to say this résumé looks like someone we should see.”

Robinson works at the law firm’s Philadelphia headquarters in Center City. In Duane Morris’ Cherry Hill office, the office manager there in charge of human resources does all the screening. But every new hire, for whatever office Duane Morris has, starts their training in the Philadelphia office. When asked how important those first couple of days’ worth of training are, Robinson says it’s “critical.”

“We go over a lot of things in the interview process, but people can only retain so much,” she says. “Every new employee comes to Philadelphia for training because we feel it’s important to have a feel of the structure of the firm. They get to meet people they will be dealing with. There are face-to-face meetings with who they will be supporting.”

Then, they do training at their home offices. But that’s not where the training stops. All support staff at Duane Morris—those in finance, marketing, IT, mailroom, library services and more that make up half of the staff—receive soft skills training. Each employee is required to do a set amount of hours of this training each year. Robinson says Duane Morris has been doing that program for about a decade now. Those soft skills include conflict management, communication, organization, work-life balance and dozens of other topics.

For a large company like global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin, new hires start every single week. Lockheed’s Moorestown location, which focuses on radar and sensor technology including design, integration, test and production, is the second-largest facility for the company. More than 97,000 are employed at Lockheed Martin worldwide and about 4,000 of those are in Moorestown and other area satellite offices including Mount Laurel and Camden.

In fact, Lockheed, held a job fair this summer, looking to fill about 300 positions in engineering and technology, products and manufacturing and business development and growth.

“We do new employee orientation every Monday,” says Jennifer Vacco, director of human resources and Moorestown site lead. “Generally, we’re hiring more than one person a week. It could be anything from an engineer to finance to human resources. It really could be any of our disciplines.”

With so many job openings and potential new hires to inter view, Lockheed Martin uses a talent acquisition organization that reports to the company’s corporate structure as well as local recruiters in the Moorestown office. People can apply on Lockheed’s website and are reviewed by recruiters who do searches based on skills and requirements needed, Vacco says. Résumés that make that first cut move onto the hiring managers who then review them and determine who to bring in for interviews.

“The hiring manager is the first interview,” Vacco says. “For the most part, the manager will determine the process they want to use. We do a lot of team interviews. Sometimes that makes things go a little quicker for people.”

Once a new hire accepts a position and a start date is agreed upon, the internal on-boarding group works with the hiring manager to make sure the new employee has a work space.

“Our ultimate goal is to always have a seat, a computer, everything in place that they need to be productive by the first day,” Vacco says. “We do feel pretty strongly on that first experience. We do try really hard to make that happen.”

Additionally, every new hire gets teamed up with a buddy.

“Our whole intent there is there are things that come up that a person may not be comfortable yet asking a manager,” Vacco says. “They have someone who is their go-to to help them address their questions.”

And while Lockheed Martin’s onboarding process has been a successful one—their attrition rates are under 4 percent— they are constantly looking at new ways to evolve human resources and their hiring and training procedures. Vacco says this is due to a lot more employees reaching retirement age and a new generation of workers with different expectations.

“We are revisiting and reevaluating everything we do,” she says. “It’s extremely important to make sure you not only on-board people properly and make them feel comfortable, but to give the tools and training to make them feel productive in their jobs. It’s time for us to say, ‘What are the pieces we’re missing?’”

Vacco says Lockheed has done a lot of hiring lately, bringing not only recent college graduates aboard, but also experienced professionals. She says it’s the first time they’ve had four generations in the workforce at one time.

“Every generation is looking for something different. You find with millennials, they are a generation of always having iPhones and computers. That’s not the case with our baby boomers. It’s very different what each one needs. We’re trying hard to meet the needs of everyone.”

Furthermore, Vacco says Lockheed wants to focus on more diversity and inclusion training, as well as security and health and wellness.

“I think we can really enhance what we’re providing. That’s something we want to include that we haven’t in the past.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 7, Issue 9 (September, 2017). 

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Author: Christina Paciolla


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