Careers Blog

What to expect from your CRA onboarding experience

December 17, 2020
university hires

by Colomba Lyall

CRA welcomes over 200 new hires every year. In 2020 we continued to prioritize the personalised onboarding experience our hires know us for, however we adapted to the virtual environment. We invested greater effort into preparing senior staff colleagues and onboarding buddies to welcome their new hires, adapted training programs to a virtual set-up, and developed initiatives to keep our workforce connected whilst working remotely. We are excited to share how our onboarding strategy has evolved into something that will help everyone integrate to CRA smoothly, no matter if it is virtual or in-person!

Building Relationships

We want all new hires to feel prepared to make the most of their first months at CRA. New hires are assigned a development team, composed of a senior staff colleague and a peer-level onboarding buddy. This team’s responsibility is to help the new hire integrate successfully with CRA. The role of the senior staff colleague is to be an active coach to support the new hire’s professional development journey and ensure he/she is correctly staffed on projects. According to an industry survey, 72% of colleagues say that 1:1 time with their supervisor was the most important part of their onboarding process. We encourage new hires to consider touch points that will enable them to build a strong relationship from their first day. Their first introduction is an opportunity to get to know each other as individuals rather than just as co-workers. Equally important, this is an opportunity to learn about the senior staff colleague’s area of expertise as well as the new hire’s interests in order to plan training and staffing accordingly.

New hires are also assigned a peer-level onboarding buddy who is a resource for questions that arise. The buddy is a window into what the normal day-to-day life at CRA is like. New hires can learn what the culture is in their practice and office, receive tips on working with different project managers, and they gain a strong office/practice contact they can always turn to.

Learning & Growth Initiatives

In addition to assigning new hires a development team, CRA has many other initiatives to facilitate successful onboarding. The new remote environment challenged us to be creative in how we deliver onboarding. We transformed our onboarding training into virtual sessions, and we even created new ones to ensure our global workforce stays connected while working remotely.

Junior Class Council

At CRA, we welcome a big class of junior hires each year throug¬¬hout the summer. Our Junior Class Council (JCC) consists of a junior representative from each office, who is dedicated to helping the newest junior class build skills, remain connected, and stay informed. The JCC is well-known for hosting great social events, such as Halloween costume competitions, trivia nights, and fondue socials.

Wellness

CRA’s Benefits team places a major focus on the wellbeing of our colleagues; the wellness team offers our workforce different resources for their personal needs. This team is dedicated to organising activities for colleagues of all lifestyles and fitness levels in order to promote health and wellness. Previous events have included: health risk assessments, recipe demonstrations, chair massages, flu shots, and activity challenges. Since going into our remote environment, we have hosted webinars on sleep, ergonomics, plant-based diets, and we have also encouraged all our colleagues to participate in wellness challenges, such as steps or water challenges, with winning teams receiving a donation to the charity of their choice.

Learning new skills

CRA is a place of continuous learning. With many different levels of expertise across our firm, we expanded the Tech Lab program. These Labs are employee-run workshops on technical and analytical skills from programming and textbook education to Python and data visualization tools. There are plenty of videos to watch in our on-demand library, and we also have regular live sessions. More recently, we introduced Client Labs, which are presentations designed to increase colleagues’ shared knowledge about the capabilities within CRA by showcasing client-oriented content with the firm.

Networking

To help set new hires up for success, CRA has established initiatives to facilitate networking opportunities for new hires. We have set up virtual coffee chats, which enable new hires to get to know colleagues across our 19 global offices.

Make your mark

Beyond life as a professional, CRA wants colleagues to create experiences that go beyond project work and help them make an impact at CRA. Our committees provide a way for colleagues to get to know colleagues outside of project work and follow their passions. To name a few, our social committee organises fun events to bring colleagues together. We also have a Corporate Giving committee through which colleagues can support local organizations through charitable contributions. Local volunteer teams in each office gather to run road races or bake for charity. If sports are your passion you can choose from a wide variety of sports teams. If your interests aren’t represented with these groups, you are welcome to set up your own group and make your mark.

As you prepare to become part of the CRA family, we want you to know that we have all these resources prepared for you, but it’s up to you to make the most out of them!

For questions regarding onboarding at CRA, contact CRAOnboarding@crai.com.

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