Settling into a new job: the first three months

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Settling into a new job: the first three months

You have just started your first full-time job after graduating. This might feel like the first step in your career and it is an exciting and rewarding time. But this period may also put a strain on your mental wellbeing. You will need to adjust to the challenges and struggles that come with starting a new job - especially for the first time.

The guide below runs through common challenges associated with starting a new job and gives advice on how to help yourself during that crucial first three months.

If you are a line manager or employer and want to learn how best to support graduates in their early career, visit our Employer hub

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Settling into a new environment

Settling into a new company is always challenging, especially when it is your first full time job. Understanding the company culture, getting along with new colleagues and adapting to a new routine can be difficult.

It takes time to understand the company culture and even longer to feel like you are able to be yourself at work. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that it takes on average two to three months to feel like you can be yourself in a new work environment. This may impact your mental wellbeing as you struggle to find your voice and feel like you fit in.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. This is quite normal and whilst you may feel like everyone else is adapting well, most new starters will be feeling the same as you. However, there are some things you can do which might help:

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Try to get involved

Where possible take up opportunities to get more involved. Whether that is taking on a new project or attending a work social event. Getting to know your colleagues in different settings will help you to feel more settled.

It can take some time to build up a new support network. Read more here on how to deal with loneliness and isolation.

Be prepared to adapt and learn

Most companies might have specific short-hands for processes and methods for doing things. Do not be afraid to ask if you are unsure about something. Remember that everyone was in your position once.

Your line manager will be able to help you with any questions. Many larger companies will also assign you a mentor or buddy so do not be afraid to reach out to them also.

Be patient and kind to yourself

It may take time to feel like you are settling in, so do not put too much pressure on yourself straight away. Be sure to practice self-compassion.

You may also find yourself comparing yourself to your friends in other jobs or to colleagues who started at the same time as you. Try to avoid this sort of thinking. You can find more guidance on avoiding ‘compare and despair’ thinking here.

Find ways to settle into your new routine

Your routine will have been significantly shaken up. Working full-time hours for five days a week can be really tiring, especially if this is something new. You may also have a long and unpleasant commute which adds to the length of the working day.

Allow yourself space and time to settle into this routine. Find a way to switch off from work in the evenings and at the weekend. Minimise work chat and avoid checking your emails. Look after your digital health by switching off.

Think about starting or resuming a hobby. This could be an evening class or joining a sports team. Or it might simply be going for a run, cooking from scratch, or finding time to read. This will help you set up healthy habits for a work-life balance, and may lead to new friendships outside the workplace.

Working from home

If your company encourages working from home, you will face different challenges. There are some advantages of course. The lack of a commute will free up your time and you will be working from the comfort of your own home.

But it could be harder to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues, and you may not get as much support in learning new skills. Working from home can also make it even more difficult to switch off in the evenings and set up clear boundaries in your work-life balance.

Outside of work

Apart from the stresses of starting a new job, you will also be facing challenges from outside of the workplace.

You may be struggling financially as your student loan and grants are no longer available, and you are waiting for your first paycheck. When the paycheck comes it feels like it immediately goes on paying back debts or towards new costs such as paying for the commute or rent.

And finally…

This guide has talked through some common struggles many people deal within their first three months in the workplace. That is not to say that this is all-encompassing or that after three months you will magically feel better.

Your mental wellbeing in the workplace can be influenced by many factors. Whilst the stress and change of starting a new job for the first time undoubtedly will affect you, it is likely you will continue to face challenges.

Resources

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Life after lockdown Wellbeing Action Plan

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Low mood poster

Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.

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Patent and trade mark professionals

Protecting your mental health and wellbeing: A guide for patent and trade mark professionals

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Perfectionism

Aiming high can sometimes come at a cost. This eight page guide looks at ‘unhealthy perfectionism’ – how to spot it and advice on how to develop effective interventions.

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Taking care of your mental health for occupational health practitioners

This resource for occupational health practitioners suggests ways for you to take time out of your day to focus on yourself in order to stay healthy and stress-free.

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Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

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Work from home wellbeing action plan

This is a personalised, practical tool that we can all use whether or not we have a mental health issue. There are sections for you to complete, including a positive daily plan.

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