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3 Ways to Make Cultural Onboarding a Top Priority

Feb 03, 2017 |

During the last few years, the emphasis on improving and enhancing the candidate experience has taken center stage for the talent acquisition function. Ensuring talent communities are communicated to regularly and engaging candidates through meaningful interactions has been a top priority for organizations. And rightfully so. Candidates must feel nurtured and invested in as they make the decision to actively seek employment at your company. But as so many talent acquisition professionals know, it does not—and should not—stop there. Remember, candidates have invested in your organizational culture before accepting a formal offer, so they will be looking at how it plays out in their first days as a new employee.

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Supporting this idea, Forbes cited a recent study from the Academy of Management Journal that the first 90 days are crucial for new employees. Specifically, “When support levels were high from the team and leaders, new hires often had more positive attitudes about their job and worked harder. When support and direction were not offered, the inverse occurred, leading to unhappy and unproductive employees who didn’t make it much further than four months,”. So what does this mean in terms of onboarding new employees? How can you effectively help new hires feel positive about their decision to join your company? Here are 3 ways to make cultural onboarding a top priority:

  1. Differentiate between onboarding and orientation

    Most companies are pretty good at hosting new hire orientations where benefits are reviewed, codes of conduct are presented, and basic tools such as phones, computers and office supplies are ordered or confirmed. But for many new employees, this is where the efforts stop. While processing paperwork and completing trainings and checklists for new hires is essential, it does not offer new employees a springboard for forming relationships within your organization or deliver on the promise of your organizational culture.

    True cultural onboarding involves making sure new employees see your culture in action. Introduce seasoned employees who live out your cultural brand and can offer the information needed for new hires to be effective in their jobs. Formally take new employees through your employee value proposition (EVP) and identify the accepted practices of your organization, division or business unit in which they now belong.

  2. Develop mentoring programs and identify cultural ambassadors

    Another way to help enculturate employees is to develop formal mentoring programs, where new employees are assigned to partner with one or more tenured peers. Some organizations choose to create mentoring programs where a newer employee is assigned to a team of mentors from various tenures and job roles. At a minimum, new employees should be assigned one point person to whom they can ask questions, raise concerns or simply exchange information with. Organizations may also want to call upon cultural ambassadors to meet periodically with new hires and share stories of what great looks like in the organization. However it looks, make sure you effectively communicate the rational facts related to your organizational structure, hierarchy and processes as well as the emotional truths that reveal the underlying beliefs of your organization.

  3. Gather ongoing feedback from new hires

    In addition to creating opportunities that enhance the cultural onboarding process of new employees, another practice you may want to consider is surveying new hires at specific intervals to better understand their initial experiences. Determine whether your organizational culture was a prominent part of their onboarding and identify ways to make your structured onboarding process even more effective. Check in with these employees on a regular basis during their first year and incorporate their feedback to help make cultural onboarding a core component of your new hire program. Remember, the goal is to ensure your new employees feel valued, and are not only receiving the training they need to do their job, but are truly understanding how to operate within the framework of your organization.


Invest for the future

Wherever your organization stands in bringing new employees into the fold—regardless of how effective you are in executing on your process—the importance of successful cultural onboarding can’t be overlooked. In fact, the potential consequences that an effective, or ineffective, onboarding process can have on new employees, their retention in the organization, and ultimately, their performance, should provide the justification for you to consider examining the ways that your organization can make it a priority starting now. After all, when new hires recognize they are a priority to you today, you create the opportunity to build long-term productivity and retention in your company for the future.

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Todd Allmond

Todd Allmond

Todd Allmond serves as a Consultant for IBM Employment Branding. As a consultant, he researches, uncovers and expresses the authentic organizational culture for...

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