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Walking in two worlds: helping new aboriginal staff get comfortable and productive in a large government department

Category: staff induction, Narrative
Author: Shawn Callahan, Robyn Ciuro
Date Published: 27-Jul-08

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In 2007 a large government department engaged Anecdote to facilitate a narrative-based process to help them improve the way they introduced new Aboriginal employees to their organisation. For many of these new Aboriginal staff members joining a large, bureaucratic government department was a culture shock and many chose to leave the department only after a relatively short period. Yet the department wanted to do a better job of attracting and retaining Aboriginal people and set out to create an Aboriginal staff induction program.

Guided by our brief we initially focused on Aboriginal staff induction. Quite early in the story collection and interview process, however, it became clear that a great many of the issues raised by both Aboriginal staff and their managers were issues common to all new starters, such as timesheets, flex-time, and knowing how to get things done. We therefore decided to focus on those things that were specific to their new Aboriginal staff and concentrated on looking at ways of getting them up and running as effectively as possible. The aim was for the department to improve their retention of Aboriginal staff and made it an attractive workplace for other Aboriginal staff to join.