Photo: UN Youth Volunteer Zeinab Chamas (centre) monitors work on upgrading irrigation infrastructure in South Lebanon.
© UNDP, 2019
Week 1 Checklist
Design your initial orientation to make the UN Volunteer feel welcomed and valued. Even the best candidates need support to fit in. Clarify expectations, compliance, culture, and connect with others to set them off to a good start.
Organize an onboarding and coaching buddy upfront to help your volunteer settle in their first weeks. Consider partnering them with someone patient, with time to answer questions and coach. Meanwhile, your team can keep working happily, getting lots done, with fewer distractions. The right buddy may also see this as a good leadership and development opportunity!
Click on each block below to see suggested activities.
Entry on duty
By the end of today, your new volunteer will feel welcomed, well briefed on your expectations and ready to start the assignment. Browse through the sliders below; consider which of the suggested activities would support your volunteer?
● Give a warm welcome when the UN Volunteer arrives. And remember, your volunteer is statistically more likely to be proactive when they feel a connection with your team.
● Get them formally checked-in at your agency or workplace.
● Facilitate their ID card and documents. Depending on your specific circumstances, make sure they have their paperwork and access documents in place (process and formalities may differ from country to country).
● Take them on an office tour. Show your emergency exits, storm or safe areas, advise on what to do in an emergency and introduce them to your fire wardens. Show them the facilities and give them a sense of the general flow of the office.
● Check they understand the business hours, including their usual work hours, lunch and breaks. Be clear on your expectations to avoid confusion and uncertainty.
● Invite your volunteer for a team lunch or any social events planned. Even host a morning or afternoon tea to welcome them! There’s no better way to show your volunteer how welcome they are. And ideas and (non-confidential) feedback flow naturally in a relaxed atmosphere.
● Do a formal introduction with your team and colleagues.
● Explain who’s who and how they can help your volunteer. Create a list of contact details and, better yet, put faces to names.
● Show them to their workspace. Check your volunteer can sign into their computer and email account, use the phone, equipment, and everything else you provided. If they encounter technology issues, make sure they know who to ask for assistance.
● Discuss how your volunteer should behave around your team and stakeholders, superiors and the public. Advise them on your dress code, if you need to, and any cultural context they should be aware of.
● Let your volunteer shadow a coaching buddy. Work to determine a good fit for your volunteer. Consider partnering them with someone patient, with time to answer questions and mentor. The right buddy may also see this as a good leadership and development opportunity!
● Plan kick-off meetings with partners on your programme, project or operation.
● Go through the Description of Assignment until the volunteer is clear on their role and responsibilities.
● Explain your mandate and how your team is structured.
● Discuss your scheduled activities for this first week. Share the plan with them and outline scheduled meetings, training and other assignment-related activities. Tell them who will be hosting those activities and where they need to be and when.
● Answer their questions as best you can or suggest who they can go to for help.
● Explain our zero tolerance of sexual harassment and abuse or other prohibited conduct. Ensure they are aware of how to report misconduct and seek professional help or advice.
● Ask your volunteer to complete host entity-specific mandatory training and inform of relevant deadlines. Share sign-in details for your intranet, learning platform and learning materials.
Week one is a go
Now that first day nerves are calmed, the UN Volunteer will start to feel accepted by your team, thanks to your efforts yesterday and their coaching-buddy. Let’s build on what you’ve taught them so far; there’s plenty more to be said in the first week.
● Send them to the compulsory security briefing with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS). Find out where and when it’s happening.
● Remember to include UN Volunteers in your organization’s security management system (security communication tree). This is mandatory.
● Start radio or satellite phone training, if their official duties call for it, and offer an instruction manual for reference.
● Provide them with business cards for official duties, if their official duties call for it, with ‘UNV’ or ‘UN Volunteer before their assignment title.
● Let them know of their leave entitlements, who monitors leave, how to plan and book leave in your management system (eService for ATLAS agencies) – See “Managing leave and attendance of UN Volunteers”.
● Explain medical services, UN Dispensary (if relevant) and how to access local medical and health care. Inform the volunteer to check their emails for their Cigna Health online account details and downloadable ID card – coverage starts with the start of the UN Volunteer assignment.
● Share contact details for estate agents, announcement boards and social media groups to help your volunteer find permanent accommodation. Remind them that it is up to them to source suitable accommodation cleared by the UNDSS.
● Suggest opening a local bank account and providing UNV with the details of where their living allowance should be transferred every month.
The end of week one
The end of the first week is a milestone! With improved confidence, your volunteer will continue to need your support and encouragement. Enquire how they are settling in, answer any questions they have and put them at ease if you need to.
● Provide feedback on the first week’s activities to guide your volunteer and give them confidence in their actions.
● Discuss their performance and how useful work shadowing has been with their coaching buddy.
● Go over your work procedures and explain how official missions work, if they are expected to travel.
● Agree on how you both prefer to communicate. Email, phone, face-to-face meetings (scheduled or spontaneous) and the best time to reach you.
● Break larger goals into manageable tasks and prioritize these. Set regular milestones to give a morale-boosting sense of progress and plan to overcome challenges.
● Arrange access to have required resources, tools and systems. Plus, book meetings with stakeholders and key staff to kick off your volunteer’s next project.
● Identify transferable skills the volunteer brings and how best to apply them at work. Suggest training and learning opportunities (online and on-the-job).
● Schedule weekly one-to-one meetings with the volunteer to discuss progress.
● Invite your volunteer to join your department’s meetings and, if possible, to support specific tasks, projects or programmes.
● Offer opportunities to collaborate or interact with colleagues and peers (all levels) to better understand your workplace culture.
In the first week, clarify the role and responsibilities and set expectations of quality of work and behaviour. UN Volunteers maintain an open mind as they learn and adapt to the new environment.