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Making the Most of a New Hire's First Days

We've all been the new person on a job site. It surely isn't the most fun thing to do and it has learning curves that happen to change with each new company, or even each new crew that you work with. Having just brought on some new hires, I figured it would be a good idea to talk about some of the things that we try to cover with each of them throughout their first couple days, as well as how to keep them motivated to keep learning and advancing themselves in their new career!

Right off the bat in the interview process, I like to discuss what the job duties are so that they understand what is expected of them on the job site. Some people will start to shy away rather quickly when you start talking about having to carry logs or shovel stump grindings, while others will act like it's no big deal. I'd rather have someone that is pretty honest that there are good things and bad things at any workplace. Regardless, in that same instance, I try to get a feel for what they are hoping to get out of working for me. Are they interested in advancing? Do they want to learn how to climb? Or are they just interested in a job that brings them a paycheck every week? There is nothing wrong with just working for a paycheck, but it does also help me realize where I should put my efforts for advancement as well. Obviously this mindset could all change once they start working and realize they actually like the work!

After we bring them onto the team, it's great to get them into the shop so they can get a feel for how the day-to-day operations work. Once they get familiarized with the tools and equipment, then we can start discussing safety topics. Usually this starts out with the chipper, seeing as most of their job will be working with one. We discuss safe starting procedures, which way the shoot should face as well as every possible spot that can injure them. This is actually quite the process seeing as a chipper could easily end a life or amputate a body part in a matter of seconds. Once they have a good idea about the safety issues, we try to get them to teach another worker about the hazards as well. This really helps with retention of the information that they were taught and it also helps some of the seasoned workers touch up on their communication skills by taking the time to talk to someone about something that they already know!

Next we discuss their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) so that they understand why they should always be wearing it. We talk about the way that a hard hat helps protect your head and neck by dissipating energy. We explain that extended durations of loud noises can decrease your hearing and make it harder to hear when you are older. We also discuss how well ear muffs work to help reduce noise. We show them how to adjust their helmet and ear muffs so that they are comfortable while wearing them all day long. We discuss how well safety glasses help protect your eyes from anything that is trying to stick itself into them as well as how to store them so they aren't getting scratched up. We show them how easily a pair of gauntlet style gloves can get caught on a branch and drag you into a chipper, we then tell them that gauntlet style gloves don't belong on any of our job sites and give them a pair of gloves that are. These are all very simple things that help gain trust as well as hand off a feeling of responsibility to your new workers.

Lastly we get out on the job site and start going through the motions of working with an entire crew and how the day plays out. We go over job site set-up which involves cones and signs as well as creating a work area that will help keep pedestrians safe. We discuss verbal and hand signals to look for when pieces are being dropped. We talk through back-up procedures as well. On top of that, we discuss our pre-job briefing in depth so they understand what to look for on every job site as soon as we pull up. On their second day of work, we make sure that they are the one in charge of doing the pre-job briefing. Now THEY are responsible for leading the walk through and it gives them a feeling of responsibility and accomplishment on their second day of work! These are all things that we've found to be highly beneficial to creating a motivated worker.

At the end of their first day we discuss what they thought as well as what we thought of their abilities and their work habits. If there is something that we feel should be addressed, we do it quickly so that we can get on the same page about all things relating to the job--whether it be a safety issue or a performance issue but we also make sure to let them know where they really shined on the job site as well. We are highly motivated to create the best team we possibly can and it all starts with the first steps that head in the right direction! What are some things that you do to help new employees out on their first day? Has it been beneficial in the past? Let's hear what you have to say in the comments!
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