New employee orientation
One of the New Employee Orientation classes during 2022 at Y-12’s New Hope Center.
Starting any new job is overwhelming, but starting work at a nuclear weapons production site is even more so. Human Resources and Communications led an effort to improve the onboarding experience for new hires at Pantex and Y‑12, with substantial engagement from other organizations. The goal was to create an onboarding experience that empowers employees with a clear understanding of our mission and enables them to contribute to our mission more quickly.
The enhanced orientation program acquaints new employees with goal‑setting, provides intensive employee training with presentations about both sites, and connects each new hire to an organizational ambassador from his or her business area. By the end of orientation, new employees have a deeper understanding of their individual roles in achieving the mission. They also have a clearer organizational picture, familiarity with the Pantex and Y‑12 strategic plans, and continued support through the connection and relationship built with their organizational ambassador.
As an organizational ambassador, Leslie Mathews of Y‑12 Production Operations provides one‑on‑one support to new employees during their first 90 days of employment (and often longer). “I hired in almost 15 years ago,” she said. “I did not get all of this information on day one. It takes lots of time to understand the magnitude of what we do, but with the onboarding structure, new hires have the opportunity to learn so much at the very beginning.”
“The engagement of senior leaders and organizational ambassadors in onboarding has been a game-changer,” said Senior Director of Communications Jason Bohne. “New employees are not only learning how they connect with the mission but are also gaining perspective on our priorities and beginning to build a network of people who can help them be successful in the short term and throughout their careers. Welcoming them and giving them the tools to succeed helps make us all successful.”
Making sure new employees are introduced to how they fit in our national security mission falls to Recruitment and Placement Specialists Zuleyma Carruba-Rogel and Jay Aspray.
“We’re always asking ourselves, ‘Is this the best that we can be?’ That constant reflection and adjustment lets us know we’re on the path to success,” Carruba-Rogel said. “When we see and experience the community that new hires are creating; when they respond to content and tell us they feel welcome; or when they talk about what a great experience onboarding was for them — that’s when we get to reap the fruit of those labors.”
Pantex Deputy Site Manager Kenny Steward said, “In our sites’ histories, we have rarely had to compete with a broad range of employers to attract talent to Pantex and Y‑12. Orientation is one of the opportunities we have to show new employees that they made the right choice and have joined a team they can be proud of for the rest of their careers. It’s our new employees’ introduction to life and culture in a high‑hazard, nuclear production environment, allowing us to set the stage for tying each employee to our critical nuclear deterrent mission and ensuring they know the dramatic value they add to the important work done at our sites.”