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The pre-onboarding program at Independent Electricity System Operator facilitates connectivity among employees and support from management.Provided

When Jodine Mitchell walked through the door on her first day with the Toronto-based Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the regular new-job nerves were offset by the confidence, excitement and sense of belonging she’d acquired from completing the company’s new-hire pre-onboarding program.

“I was getting excited and curious about the work culture and adding value,” says Mitchell, who was hired as manager, employee experience and culture, in August. “It makes a great first impression because I see how the organization is setting me up for success by doing their part with pre-onboarding activities.”

Given her area of expertise, Mitchell tends to notice the processes around welcoming new employees. When she saw the IESO investing in her success as soon as she’d accepted her offer, she knew that she had made the right decision.

Born out of feedback post-pandemic, enhancements to the onboarding program make it easier to connect new employees to the mission and strategy of the organization, while fostering a sense of belonging and commitment from day one.

The latest addition to the program, a new onboarding website, consolidates information about the company’s values, purpose, strategy and culture, as well as tools and resources to accelerate readiness and employee contributions.

“Onboarding is critical in supporting new employees’ success, as well as establishing strong connections to the IESO’s purpose,” explains Robin Riddell, vice-president of human resources, who has been with the IESO for 37 years – ever since she got her start as a summer student. “We wanted to make sure that individuals who were joining us felt that connectivity and had the opportunity to meet with the right people to establish relationships.”

After the pandemic, the IESO moved to a hybrid work model and the benefits of a formal onboarding program really started to show.

“The blend of information, discussions, webinars and support from a buddy helps people understand the greater context of the IESO – not just the work their teams are doing, but how that contributes across the organization,” says Riddell.

But beyond streamlining her familiarization with the company – its values, purpose and internal resources – Mitchell found the program helped her foster a sense of belonging in the workplace.

“That sense of belonging helped me to connect with my colleagues,” she says, whether through a workplace buddy, various clubs, charities and committees or even the IESO basketball team. “You never feel like you’re alone, you can find support at the IESO.”

For Mitchell, the benefits have continued to reverberate far beyond what the orientation offered officially. The confidence it provided, coupled with a welcoming employee culture and strong management, has given her a sense of her role in the company’s bigger picture and accelerated her performance.

“As a rookie, you want to come in and add value, you want to make an impact,” she says. “So to have a clear understanding as to what is expected and what are some of those big rocks to move initially, that provides clarity.”

Regular check-ins with management and feedback to ensure the new employee is on the right track are also wrapped up in the program, contributing to the foundational support that helps employees to thrive at the IESO.

“When you feel as though the company you’re a part of wants you to succeed in a very genuine way,” Mitchell says, “you can’t take that for granted.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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