March 15, 2022
Onboarding programs can leave new hires feeling overwhelmed and nervous to approach others with their questions. On top of that, for new associates in production settings, there are variables that can lead to safety incidents. Understanding those variables and how to manage potential issues as they arise was one of the focuses when our Product Support and Logistics Division created the Guardian Program. This program was developed in 2019 and since adoption, it has increased the focus on safety and has created an environment of inclusion and belonging in the facilities. “It's really cool that our guardians are our friends and peers. As a new hire, my guardian makes me feel comfortable to ask questions when I don't understand and is there to listen to me when I need someone to talk to. That's what makes them a good guardian, which makes it a lot easier walking into a new facility," says Renee Walker, Guardian Program Mentee.
From critical safety protocols to basic questions, the guardian and mentee work together at a peer-to-peer level to ensure an in depth understanding of the day-to-day both personally and professionally. The program not only focuses heavily on safety but also has a significant social benefit that most new hires may not experience with another company.
A major indicator of this program’s success is in the positive change in employee survey results. In fact, since the program’s inception in 2019, facilities with the Guardian Program implemented saw increases in inclusion, recognition, and professional development opportunities.
"This is the best plant I have ever worked at. You don't need experience to start a career here. They will train you from the ground up with safety top of mind," Renee shares. "With this program, I am more confident knowing I can do my job effectively and feel comfortable asking questions, even a question as simple as where the bathroom is. My guardian made me feel like I wasn't walking into a group of strangers.”
Not only is the program beneficial for new associates, but for their guardians as well. The relationship between the guardian and their mentee helps them support an inclusive workplace by leveling the playing field of communication. “Letting my mentees know that they can come to me is important because I want them to see me as a supportive role, not disciplinary,” says Mercedes Woods, Team Lead. "It’s not just about the work, it’s about building relationships, and reinforcing the Caterpillar culture”.
The Guardian Program is an impactful and proven way to set production employees up for success right from the start. Are you ready to join a team that supports your success?
Renee Walker and Mercedes Woods, Guardian Program participants.