Workplace culture develops organically, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put any thought into it. Just as you make decisions about your dress code, your benefits, and your internal branding based on your organization’s culture, it’s important that youronboarding process reflects this cultureas well.
The better job your onboarding does at preparing new employees to integrate into your business as a whole, the more your company will benefit and the happier your employee will be.
Focus on your priorities.
What does your company want to see in its employees more than anything else? If creating a problem-free product trumps everything else, open with that rather than attendance policies. Ifthrilling levels of customer serviceare expected of everyone from engineers to file clerks to the CEO, it’s worth spending some serious time examining what that looks like.
There are companies where new employees spend a half day of their orientation volunteering at a neighboring nonprofit. There are businesses where new managers and executives learn by spending time in the call center or on the plant floor.
Yes, you need to fill out paperwork. But you’re teaching new employees a lesson about what matters most, based on how you allocate your time. Schedule accordingly.
What are your values?
What is a new employee supposed to think about a business that:
Claims to value integrating technology into people’s everyday lives but still keeps its employee handbook in a three-ring binder?
Has copy all over its website about its green products, but offers new hires single serving snacks on styrofoam plates?
Has statements about employee wellness all over its walls, but doesn’t schedule enough time during orientation for a new employee to take a stretch break or eat a healthy meal?
A company that values open communication that provides regular space for new employees to ask questions and provide feedback on how their onboarding is going.
A business that values enthusiasm about their products that provides opportunities for new employees to experience them all firsthand.
A nonprofit organization that believes in centering the needs of the local people it serves, so it brings all employees into the neighborhood for a tour and to speak with residents, even if they’re not in a client-facing position.
Beginning as you mean to go on.
Company culture isn’t just about what you believe in, it’s about how things are expressed in the day-to-day. If you typicallycommunicate through instant messaging, don’t stop at introducing your new employee in person, although that’s important.
Make sure there’s also a “Hey everyone, this is @Nura, our new Ladybug Behavior Analyst,” so she’s immediately immersed in the typical flow of conversation. If your workplace is generally serious and focused, skip the scavenger hunt and get straight down to business.
It’s normal to tweak your onboarding process over time.
If you didn’t, that would also be a reflection of your culture (one of failure to learn from reflection and adapt to new realities). Consider asking employees who’ve been with you for under a year how they felt their onboarding reflected the culture of your organization overall. You might be surprised by the insights they provide.