A company’s culture influences almost every aspect of an employee’s journey and experience. At Temkin Group, we define culture as how employees think, believe, and act. A company’s culture contributes to its success by attracting and retaining talent, aligning employees with what’s important, and creating a productive workforce. However, Temkin Group research found that most organizations fall short when cultural alignment is most critical – when an employee joins a company. In fact, only 29% of HR professionals we surveyed labeled employee onboarding as a top priority.
When companies neglect their onboarding programs, some common pitfalls occur:
• They put process ahead of connection-building. When onboarding focuses on policies and forms, rather than on the company’s unique culture, new hires miss out on fully understanding what the company stands for. This makes it hard for them to draw a line from their role to the company’s purpose and values, and to connect with current employees who have that perspective already.
• They skip the “why” and focus on the “what.” Companies that simply describe what their culture is and how they expect employees to act miss a vital opportunity to engage their employees in a dialogue about why the culture is what it is, and why it matters to employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
• They view onboarding as an event. Onboarding needs to be seen as more than a scheduled day or two of HR-driven activities. Instead, a company’s efforts to align new employees with its culture should be sustained over phases of the new hire’s journey and involve people across the company.
• Treat all new hires the same. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to onboarding employees to a company and its culture. For example, is the employee new to the working world or an experienced hire? Or is she joining as a manager or an individual contributor as a result of an acquisition? A company needs to be mindful about which elements of its culture need the most emphasis based on where the new hire is coming from and the role she is to play.
So how can companies better shape how new hires think, believe, and act? We identified nine levers companies can use throughout a new hire’s journey from being a prospective employee to an established contributor.
To get started down the path towards a culture-infused new hire experience, here are some of the recommendations highlighted in our report:
• Immediate Actions: Review your existing new hire training curriculum and communications to create a balance between compliance- and job-related information and culture-related information during formal onboarding activities. Introduce a structured action plan that new employees and their managers can use together to set concreate goals and expectations.
• Near-term Actions: Collect success stories of your culture in action and incorporate those into the messages prospective employees and new hires receive from the company. Clearly define which behaviors support your cultural objectives and then create recognition programs that celebrate new (and current) employees who display these behaviors.
• Long-term Actions: Change hiring practices to emphasize your company culture during recruiting and interviewing. Get current employees involved in sharing the culture by establishing a new hire ambassador or “buddy” program. Set-up a process to gather feedback on how connected new (and current) employees feel to the culture and prioritize taking action on what you learn.
Your culture can and should be an asset for employee engagement. Companies should purposefully use their culture as a focal point during recruiting, hiring, and onboarding and then continue to emphasize it as employees acclimate to their roles. To read examples of how companies like Adobe, LexisNexis, Oxford Properties, and Safelite Autoglass are doing this today, and to see a checklist on how to execute your culture-focused onboarding program effectively, check out our report Infusing Culture Throughout the New Employee Journey.