Make us your home page
Instagram

Like in 'Avatar,' watch, listen and learn in new work environment

The greatest challenge faced by people re-entering the work force after an extended absence is not mastering new technologies or learning new skills, but learning the way around their new work environment, according to a recent survey by a leading staffing firm.

OfficeTeam, based in Menlo Park, Calif., asked 464 office workers, "If you were unemployed for more than six months, either voluntarily or involuntarily, what do you think would be your greatest challenge when re-entering the work force?"

Nearly a third of respondents, 32 percent, said their greatest challenge would be "becoming acclimated to a new workplace culture/co-workers." Another 23 percent tagged "learning new technologies/protocols" as their top concern, while 22 percent selected "adapting to a new routine/schedule."

But is this news? Adapting to any new social environment is a challenge, whether work, school or alien planet. Just ask Jake Sully.

In fact, the protagonist of the hit movie Avatar, despite having a questionable mission and committing some noteworthy gaffes, unconsciously managed to implement at least three of the suggestions that OfficeTeam makes for professionals re-entering the workplace:

1. Make the rounds. Get to know the people you'll be working with. Through dumb luck rather than smart planning, Scully got himself introduced to the leadership of the Na'vi. You might settle for inviting your new colleagues to join you for lunch or coffee.

2. Watch and learn. Pay attention to how others act in the workplace. Jake's very survival depended on doing this; no one gave him a manual. Likewise, workplaces tend to operate according to many unwritten rules that can be learned only by observation.

3. Play it cool. Project confidence in everything you do. Even while acknowledging his ignorance in his first meeting with Moat ("I'm an empty cup. Trust me."), Jake displayed confidence in his ability to learn. Not a bad place to start in projecting confidence overall.

Robert Hosking, executive director of Office­Team, a division of Robert Half International, also of Menlo Park, Calif., suggested that new employees begin checking out the culture of their new workplace early by asking questions about the work environment during the interview and networking actively with current or former employees.

"New hires can make a smoother transition by learning as much as possible about the firm's culture before their first day," he said.

Like in 'Avatar,' watch, listen and learn in new work environment 04/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 11:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    President Donald Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House with members of the GOP on May 4 after the House passed legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act. [Cheriss May | Sipa USA via TNS]
  2. St. Pete Economic Development Corporation lures marketing firm MXTR to town

    Economic Development

    St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation has lured its first big catch to St. Petersburg — MXTR Automation. The digital marketing company announced Wednesday that it will fill 20 "high-wage" creative positions within the next 18 months, as well as open an office in downtown St. Petersburg this year.

  3. United Airlines CEO to investors: We'll be more focused on customers

    Airlines

    CHICAGO — The CEO of United Airlines assured shareholders Wednesday that the company is doing all it can to be more customer-friendly since video surfaced of a passenger being violently ejected from a plane last month.

    Chicago Police arrest protesters after they sat down in a busy street blocking traffic outside a United Airlines shareholders meeting Wednesday, in downtown Chicago. The people who were arrested were protesting the low pay of employees of companies that provide meals and other services for United Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
[Associated Press]
  4. Humana adding 200 telemarketing jobs in Tampa Bay

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Health insurance company Humana Inc. is hiring more than 200 workers in Tampa Bay. The Louisville, Ky.-based company said Wednesday that the new positions will focus on phone sales for Humana's direct marketing services department.

  5. Tampa Bay home prices still soaring amid tight supply

    Real Estate

    Sales of Tampa Bay homes dropped in April but prices surged yet again as Florida's real estate market continued to be defined by tight supply and high demand.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor has sold for $11.18 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group]