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Employees are much better at adapting to career transitions in their company if they feel a connection to their company from the beginning of their time, according to new research from Durham University Business School.

The researchers also discovered a number of other interesting insights including the impact that training, mentorship and other socialisation tactics can have at the beginning of an employee’s journey with a company. The researchers found that actively participating in these activities boosts their adaptability, which enables 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 socialization practices, which suggest that their varied prior experience served as another important source of learning, making them less rely on organizational arrangements to adapt to the new environment.

These findings come from research conducted by Yanjun Guan, Lanyue Fan and Zehua Li, all from Durham University Business School, alongside colleagues from Leeds University Business School, UK, and Shandong University, Shenzhen University, Peking University, and Shandong Normal University, all based in China.

The researchers wanted to examine how examine how socialisation practices, such as training, future prospects discussions and co-worker support, predicted new employees’ adaptability during their career transitions.

To do so, the researchers interviewed almost 500 newcomers in an IT company in China. The company provided newcomers with intensive socialisation tactics at the beginning of their organisational entry, and newcomers were 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.

The researchers found 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, and 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.”

The researchers state that these findings clearly show 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' resource losses when coping with anxiety and uncertainty during organisational entry.

Also, the researchers suggest that an effective onboarding of newcomers can 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.

The researchers also suggest that 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.

If you would be interested in speaking with Yanjun Guan on this research, or receiving the full research paper, please contact Peter Remon at BlueSky Education – +44 (0) 77 235 228 30.

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