Hey new employee. If you’ve gone and gotten yourself a brand new job, you must be totally stoked. And totally nervous. The office is a world away from university halls. It can almost seem like a different planet for newbies. It’s only natural to feel a little… testy.
Whether it’s figuring out where the bathroom is, learning how to use the temperamental coffee machine or guessing who you shouldn’t speak to in the morning before their caffeine fix, there’s a lot to process. Getting comfortable at a new job takes a while. But if you’re wondering what the heck is taking so long, we’ve got the answer.
A team of social psychologists at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario set out to measure this weird adjustment period. They conducted this research in collaboration with firm Plasticity Labs, and subsequently launched the results in the Harvard Business Review. Here’s how it all went down:
The ‘new job’ experiment
The two hundred and thirteen employees were asked to complete an online survey. They were quizzed on topics like workplace characteristics (things like dress code), workplace sentiment (job satisfaction, engagement, sense of community, etc.)
The survey then asked participants to respond to specific statements. Things like:
- “My workplace environment encourages all employees to express who they really are”
- “When I’m at work, I don’t show the ‘real me'”
- “I would like my co-workers to show more of their true selves at work”.
72% of the survey respondents said they are authentic at work, and took around two to three months before they were brave enough to show their true selves. Of this 72%, 60% were authentic by the three-month mark, and 22% by nine months.
For 9% of respondents, it took them a little bit longer to settle in – around 10-12 months. Another 9% reported taking an entire year, which, ouch, we feel for you.
Generally, it shows that two thirds of people will settle into a new job in around three months time. It might take some time for the latter third of people, however, which is perhaps somewhat alarming.
NYMag did point out this survey hasn’t been peer-reviewed. This means there may be some issues with the way the study has been conducted. That being said, the results of this survey echo earlier ones on the subject, so it can’t be too far off.
Other interesting findings
The survey investigated some workplace norms to see if they impacted employee authenticity. They found that dress codes tend to restrain an employee’s sense of freedom, and a no dress code work environment results in a more authentic employee.
Also, there seems to be a direct correlation between authenticity at work and performance. The results indicate authentic employees report significantly higher job satisfaction, engagement, happiness at work and lower stress levels.
Finally, a majority of participants (a whopping 80%) believe being comfortable enough to be authentic at work improves the workplace. If that’s not an incentive for companies to encourage authenticity at work, we don’t know what is.