The first few days and months at a new job can be unnerving even for the seasoned professional. HR teams sometimes go out of the way to make the new hire comfortable. Systems are put in place, procedures are followed and checked, tools are provided and training is given, for the new employee to ease into his role.
But many fail to recognize the new hire’s need to align with the company culture. A study conducted by Aberdeen Group involving HR professionals and management teams estimated that 66% of companies reported higher success with assimilation to the company culture with a structured onboarding program. Nearly 90% of new hire failures are attributed to poor cultural fit. It’s nearly impossible to be productive in a workplace setup where you are not in sync with company values and ethics. Culture fit is being comfortable with your work surroundings from team dynamics to workplace ethics & values. Understanding company culture includes compliance and being at ease with a range of aspects such as office timings, work ethics, dress code, goal setting, reporting hierarchy, communication channels, appraisals, benefits management, career growth & development among others. Integrating smoothly into the way a Company functions is essential.
While HR teams work hard to equip and familiarize the new hire with tools, systems and processes, little goes in the way of assimilating the new hire into the social fibers that distinguish a company. A company culture encompasses what is actually seen on the ground, done and valued at the workplace. It includes behaviors as we see, hear, feel and are rewarded within the organization.
SHRM outlines four distinct levels for successful onboarding- compliance, clarification, culture and connection. Compliance describes the lowest and the most basic requirement including policy and regulations. Clarification entails an employee’s understanding of his roles and expectations. Culture and connection includes an employee’s relation with organizational norms, interpersonal relationships and information networks.
These aspects of social integration and knowledge of cultural norms should be considered into the onboarding strategy.
Key aspects to consider for onboarding for culture and connection
Creating and reinforcing the company culture is much like branding your product. The company culture and social fibers are defined by how an employee interacts, believes, experiences, and feels about working for the company, much like how a customer views your product or service. So how can we strengthen the company culture within the onboarding process?
HR teams play a crucial role in this process, managing the employee’s first point of contact, and introduction to the organizational culture. The onboarding process thereby becomes a cauldron that introduces and reinforces the company culture. Successful onboarding strategies develop a connect between hiring, rewards, career management and culture.
Communicate, and communicate early
Communication should start as soon as the offer is accepted. New hires usually have a lag time before the actual joining day. Keep the tempo of communicating up and going. Get those whom the employee will be connected with involved. Connect with the employee on all aspects such as
1)Specific to the role such as paperwork that can be filled online and prior to joining
2)Specific to the team introduce team members and work culture
3)Related to the company and its employee
Make optimum use of this time to detail things required, and other particulars for the first day at work.
Get all key stakeholders onboard
The process of onboarding and reinforcing organizational culture can quickly be boxed and sidelined as an HR responsibility. It is important for HR teams to convince managers how much they stand to benefit, when employee become productive faster. Hiring managers often play an important role in the process and HR may be required to get all key players on board selling them the benefits of onboarding. Roping in key players, brings into the picture, their perspectives, as well as incorporates the organizational culture, not just from an HR view point.
The length of the onboarding program may depend on the role. Onboarding programs vary from 30, 60, 90 days up to a year. Less complex roles may require training that last three weeks. Incorporate aspects of the company culture throughout the learning period. News hires may require a more extended learning period, through on the job experiences, coaching and learning through mentors. Customize the program depending on the complexity of the job role and availability of resources.