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The importance of employee onboarding & company culture

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A business is more often than not doing well when it has to hire. If you are hiring — it means you are growing and need more people to manage the growth. It’s a great place to be. But it’s also one of the most important part of your growth story — because it will go a long way in defining your company culture.

Let’s start by first defining why culture is important. It’s been a hot topic for some time now and in fact, Josh Bersin even proclaims that Culture is a top priority for companies.

Culture is essentially the culmination of all the behaviors, practices and processes within the organization and displayed by each and every individual.

So, what is the connection between employee onboarding & company culture? I am glad you asked :)

The importance of employee onboarding

Employee Onboarding is the process of welcoming a new hire in to your organization. It should ideally start well before the start date of the employee and it usually continues for 3–4 months beyond it.

This is where the employee understands the organization and makes all her judgements about the culture.

I remember getting started with a multi-national firm that was headquartered in Scandinavia and going there the first day. I was entering the vast unknown — a new country, a new traditions & cultures, a new company — there is so much to be unsure about!

Over time, I learnt that the company was rather laid back and valued individual contributions and a healthy work-life balance. In fact, work-life balance was sacrosanct.

However, I came in to my Day 1 not knowing what to expect, who I was working with or what I will be working on for sure. Some where through the course of my first week, my onboarding started with an induction session with HR. And frankly — that was it.

I would have loved to know more before I came in on Day 1 and honestly, I would have loved to know more through the first few months!

Employee onboarding & culture go hand-in-hand

Onboarding is like the formative years of a young human.

You absorb and learn from the people around you. You imitate and build your own character based on the various interactions.

Employee Onboarding is critical to helping an employee understand your culture and for that employee to imbibe the culture. You are not trying to tell them what the Culture of the company is — you are responsible for facilitating that discovery process through onboarding.

This does not mean having a 60 second video on “This is who we are” will do it. Yes, it could be one way to introduce them to the organization — but it is a continuous facilitation process through the first 3–4 months of a new hire.

In another post, I will attempt to outline the various ways you can facilitate this learning process for a new hire — but for this post, it is important to leave you with a few key points …

You cannot teach a new hire your culture.

Culture is not learnt by attending induction sessions.

Culture is an ongoing discovery process for the new hire.

Your role is to facilitate this discovery process over the first 3–4 months.

And most importantly, culture is a set of behaviors, processes & practices followed and displayed by existing employees.

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