Instructor Bryan Rush (left) analyzes donut art during the Creative and Innovative Thinking Class portion of the New Employee Onboarding Course in March at Countee Hall. The next course is set for June 27 to 30.
Instructor Bryan Rush (left) analyzes donut art during the Creative and Innovative Thinking Class portion of the New Employee Onboarding Course in March at Countee Hall. The next course is set for June 27 to 30. (Photo Credit: Photo by Melissa Buckley, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood’s New Employee Onboarding program makes sure civilian employees starting jobs here have the tools they need to be successful.

“I love this onboarding class because I wish I had this class when I started. I started my career in 2010, and I got minimal information about the post,” said Farrah Overman, a workforce development specialist with the Department of Human Resources. “When I transferred to this job last year, I wanted to make sure that new people got as much information as possible to start their careers on a positive note.”

Some of the classes in the quarterly program are sessions on creative and innovative thinking, training on operations security, personal readiness, civilian resilience and a course on how to use the Army’s civilian time-keeping application.

In addition to those classes, several organizations on the installation — including the Armed Forces Wellness Center, Financial Readiness Program and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation — provide information on services available to Department of Defense civilian employees.

During the first day of the four-day course, new employees learn about Fort Leonard Wood’s history, current mission and data about the post’s impact on the area.

“Our main job is to support the mission of turning civilians into Soldiers. We also support various other missions by training other branches,” said Mike Alley, management analyst for the Plans, Analysis and Integration Office.

During Alley’s presentation, he said Fort Leonard Wood is Missouri’s fifth-largest employer, supporting 36,400 direct and indirect jobs.

Overman said the program is designed to benefit new employees and ones already familiar with the Army.

“Prior military and prior civilian employees can benefit from this program. Things change and the mindset of the workforce is changing,” Overman said.

William Blakeslee had been in his new job as a range technician for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security for one week when he took the course in March.

Blakeslee said he was surprised at the amount of information he learned because he retired after 20 years in the military and has been stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for more than five years.

“I really enjoyed the Fort Leonard Wood history lesson,” Blakeslee said. “This whole course helped me understand the Army from the civilian side of things. It was definitely worth my time to attend the class.”

He said he found the stress management class to be interesting and useful.

“The Armed Forces Wellness Center brief was great. They offer a lot of services there. I didn’t know I could use them as a civilian,” Blakeslee said.

As a bonus, attendees leave the course with a certificate of completion for six mandatory annual training requirements.

“It is nice to have that done and out of the way for a year,” Blakeslee said.

He said his favorite part of the overall course was the creative and innovative thinking class.

“It helped break the ice with the whole group,” Blakeslee said. “It made me think outside the box.”

Bryan Rush, a PAIO management analyst, serves as the instructor for the class.

“This class equips students to serve others through solving problems by presenting innovative solutions. We want new employees to notice ways we can accomplish our goals and benefit the team. Everything we do, we may be able to do it better,” Rush said. “We’re looking for them to bring new solutions to the table that add value and not just embody the saying, ‘we’ve always done it this way.’”

Rush said he hopes new employees leave his class as capable problem solvers with the confidence to share their ideas.

“They can be game changers if they notice and help solve a real problem that causes people or organizations issues,” Rush said. “A leader to me is defined by what they do to and for other people.”

Blakeslee said another thing he found beneficial from attending the program was being able to network with his classmates and the instructors.

“It was nice meeting people from different departments and being able to get to know them. I have met several people from other departments that I know I will probably get to work with in the future,” Blakeslee said.

According to Overman, newcomers being able to network with seasoned employees is one of the best things about the program.

“I think it is great to get face-to-face instruction,” Overman said. “You get to network with people that have been here awhile and then you can recognize them when you run in to them or get an email from them. It also helps to know who to contact to get the information you are seeking. Knowing who to go to is critical to problem solving.”

Overman said the next course is set for June 27 to 30.

“The sooner new employees come, the better. For instance, we talk about retirement on day one. People need to know they can start planning the end from the beginning. It is better than waiting until five years out,” Overman said.

To sign up for the class, Overman said employees should first speak with their supervisors. Email for additional information.