Photo of Lisa LewisWelcome Day: Introducing an enriched onboarding experience
Témo X. Madrigal-Sanchez, Onboarding Specialist, Professional & Organizational Development

In 2018, staff across UW Human Resources joined forces to combine new employee and benefits orientations into a half-day workshop called Welcome Day. We have now taken the next step, and starting in 2020, Welcome Day will offer a full day of activities that combines multiple required trainings ― new employee orientation, benefits orientation, and addressing discrimination and harassment ― with a new diversity module and resource fair. This expanded Welcome Day offers a “one-stop shopping” orientation facilitated by a dynamic group of individuals from across UWHR.

As the facilitator for the first portion of Welcome Day, I am highly vested in enhancing onboarding for our new hires and their home departments. Combining these workshops is enabling us to eliminate redundant information, and, whereas a few years ago employees were required to attend three separate trainings, now there will be just one session required for new employees to attend. Logistically speaking, this will save time and resources for the employee, the supervisor and the department.

A better onboarding experience

Not only is the onboarding experience being streamlined, but with a full-day offering, it is also being enriched.

Currently, Welcome Day opens with an exploration of UW’s culture, structure and values as well as the ethics, responsibilities, perks and resources associated with employment at the UW. During this time, I field many questions related to parking, tuition exemption and other programs. While this information is important, each individual’s circumstances and needs are unique. Starting in 2020, a lunch-hour resource fair will host representatives from key programs, services and perks, including the IMA, credit unions, Fidelity and a tuition exemption specialist from Professional & Organizational Development. This change will allow new employees to seek out information they’re interested in and will allow us to focus on delivering essential information during the orientation.

We are also integrating a short introduction to diversity, equity and inclusion into Welcome Day, which will be presented by Diversity Recruiter Ebonee Anderson from UW Human Resources. We anticipate Ebonee will help ignite the interest of employees to further their knowledge of these core UW values.

Other new Welcome Day content will include material from the required Prevention of Sexual Harassment training, which is being transformed into a broader and more inclusive Addressing Discrimination and Harassment presentation. This autumn, Lisa Hanna, director of Employee Relations in UWHR, convened human resources consultants and representatives from SafeCampus, Academic Personnel, Compliance Services and other areas to rethink this training and prepare for it to be presented as part of the Welcome Day onboarding experience. After extensive discussion, the group decided to broaden the focus of the long-standing Prevention of Sexual Harassment training and explore the role all employees have in creating and maintaining inclusive work and learning environments that do not tolerate discrimination or harassment in any form.

The nuts and bolts

The first offering of the expanded Welcome Day will be Monday, January 6, 2020. As always, it’s important for new employees to attend as soon as possible since Welcome Day provides information about benefits selections, most of which must be made within 30 days of employment.

Welcome Day is typically offered on the first and third Monday of each month in the UW Tower auditorium, except in cases such as holiday weeks. As much as possible, we encourage you to plan your departmental onboarding activities around this schedule. You can read more about our new Welcome Day agenda and register for upcoming sessions here.

All new benefits-eligible employees with home departments on the Seattle campus are required to attend Welcome Day. Please note that, while all new employees are welcome to attend, Academic Personnel, the medical centers, UW Bothell and UW Tacoma host their own new employee orientations.

As with the current Welcome Day, after the other presentations are finished, representatives from UAW 4121, WFSE and SEIU 925 will be on hand to talk with employees whose positions are represented by those unions.

Looking to the future

Facilitating Welcome Day has been a wonderful experience for me because it has opened the door to conversations with new employees after orientation or over coffee. I have gained new insights about why people come to the University of Washington, their unique experiences and goals, and the role the UW plays in reaching those goals. What I’ve heard from these new employees has also helped me see our organization from a different lens and reminded me how all of our work supports the mission, vision and values of the UW.

We are working on a number of exciting projects within Total Talent Management, and the relaunch of Welcome Day is just one. For me, the big picture is a complete employee experience toolkit that integrates onboarding, employee experience interviews (or “stay” interviews), employee engagement pulse surveys and, when needed, a more unified employee exit interview process that will allow us to understand the full cycle of the employee experience.

Autumn 2019 | Return to Issue Home