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How to Embed New Staff Within Company Culture

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Did you know that a recent Korn Ferry survey found as many as 25% of new hires leave their new job within the first six months? With the cost of new employee turnover ranging from 100 to 300% of the leaver’s salary, effectively embedding new hires is critical for your business. As this article explains, helping your latest team member find their feet quickly saves money, improves productivity and should begin before you even have a candidate in mind.

Paint an Accurate Picture

Over a third of employees leave an organisation within the first year of employment because their role was not what they had anticipated during the hiring process (source). Which means good quality job descriptions and person specifications that accurately represent the role are vital. These documents should establish the expected inputs and outcomes of the role. You can’t include every detail so think of them as the outline of a painting; your audience should get a good feel for the piece but the colour and detail should be provided at interview stage.

Derek Bishop is the Director of Culture Consultancy and is an expert in culture change and leadership development. He says that culture is as important as clarifying the job role and advises businesses to explain the company’s ethos right from the outset. “Let them hear it from management as well as from their colleagues,” he advises. “Use stories and examples to bring it alive; don’t just play back the company values.”

Make First Impressions Count

Doing the basics right makes a good first impression. Ensure there’s someone to meet and greet a new employee on their first day, introduce them to the team and show them to their desk where their IT and phone are ready to go. It sounds obvious, but some organisations fail to consider such basics leaving a bad taste in the mouth on day one.

Some organisations ask new employees to come in before they start. Bishop also encourages this approach. “Don’t wait until their first day to start inducting them. Invite new hires in, or to a social gathering, so they can meet the people they’ll be working with. This will make them feel included and you’re starting their engagement before day one.”

Give a Little

Make your latest team member feel special with a company-branded care package. Include items to help them settle in such as stationery, a mug, a copy of the employee handbook and a water bottle. Marketing agencies are well known for setting the standard in this area with flowers or gift cards to fund a ‘getting to know you’ coffee shop social with new colleagues. Take a look at the companies in this article for inspiration.

Speed Up Your Return on Investment 

For new hires, feeling their way into a new organisation is disorienting; they don’t know anyone, how anything works or where anything is. This impedes their capacity to deliver. Research from the Allied HR IQ Workforce Mobility Survey found that the average new employee takes up to eight months to reach peak productivity.

Help your new hires hit the ground running by designing a solid orientation programme. Good induction programmes cover off the necessary housekeeping items (such as timesheets and clear desk policies) then quickly move on to the individual’s work responsibilities.

You’ll have a wealth of knowledge about your new hire’s capabilities, traits, drivers and experience. Use this knowledge to inform the areas you want them to focus on first where they can make the biggest impact. Make the induction process a two-way conversation so your new team member feels free to bring their expertise to bear as quickly as possible.

Make Leadership Visible

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your businesses leaders could speak to and inspire every new employee? Well, with video, they can. Ask the CEO and other senior managers to record short messages for new hires. Convey the organisation’s mission, values and objectives to help recruits connect with the business and inspire them to do their best. Powerful videos with personality can leave a lasting impression on new employees and engage them with the company from day one.

Relationships Matter

Make the induction process as human as possible to establish the foundations for a strong relationship. Let your new team member know why they have been hired and be explicit about how you expect them to use their knowledge and experience to benefit the team. Help them understand where the rest of the team’s expertise lies so they can link in quickly with the right people on the right topics.

If you didn’t find out at interview, ask your new team member how they like to be managed, establish their personal circumstances and find out about them as an individual. What makes them tick? What do they absolutely hate? Good line managers will use this information to adapt their style and help their newest team member settle in.

Time with the Team

A strong induction plan will ensure there’s time available with each member of the team and with key individuals on other teams. Team members are often best placed to bring your new hire up to speed with more detailed information about day-to-day work or major projects. Avoid people complaining about previous problems; while it’s good to be honest, this is a time to be constructive and present the business positively.

Get Social

Scheduling time for the team to get to know one another outside of work breaks down barriers and improves understanding and communication. Have dinner, play crazy golf, go out for a coffee or a few beers. Whatever you choose to do, it needs to reflect company culture.

Mentor Programmes

Another way to support new employees is to provide them with a mentor. The Korn Ferry survey found 98% of respondents believed mentor programmes would help new hires but only 53% operated a formal scheme. Bishop recommends pairing new employees with a buddy as soon as they start, “this could be someone they are going to work with closely or somebody else, but there must be a good fit between the two people so it’s an open and supportive relationship.” Train mentors to answer questions and give new team members insight to the business while demonstrating the right company behaviours to keep hold of your new hires.

Help New Hires Focus on Delivering

While completing compulsory training and meeting new people are a priority for the business, this can be frustrating for new hires who want to get stuck in. Make sure the induction period doesn’t last too long by setting clear work-related objectives and outcomes for the individual to complete by specific dates.At Culture Consultancy, Bishop and his team often share information with new hires in advance of their start date.

“We’ve prepared videos and briefing packs for new starters, including tests and activities, some of which they had to complete before they started. It’s a great way of giving the new starter exposure, but they also do it at a time to suit them. From the business’ perspective, you’re providing knowledge beforehand so they hit the ground faster.

Review your starter packs to help your new hire hit the ground running, and can sustain focus and momentum.

Provide Regular Performance Feedback from Day One

Like a rocket adjusting its course to land on the moon, managers should be feeding back, nudging and guiding their latest team members to a successful landing. Tell them how you think they’re getting on. If they’ve settled in well with the team, or made a good impression during a meeting with a new colleague, let them know.

Bishop says, “one of the major causes of issues with performance and engagement is a lack of mutual understanding and agreement on expectations”. He suggests that managers need to, “be clear with people about their expectations – what does great look like, what does amazing look like? Discuss and agree performance expectations, but remember it’s a two-way contract. Find out what support and development your people need; this is often the missing link to help new employees succeed.”

Equally, if you identify any issues, raise these with your employee too. Performance standards and behaviours vary significantly between organisations so be clear about what’s expected to help your new hire settle in and quickly nip any issues in the bud. Bishop recommends “reviewing progress frequently and providing feedback to discuss challenges and opportunities” is a better approach than “leaving people guessing and then being frustrated if they aren’t delivering what you need or expect.”

If performance issues do raise their head, document conversations and note down examples of poor performance, to provide a solid foundation for any next steps that may be required.

Seek Feedback and Improve

You might think you’re doing a good job at orienting new employees but have you asked your new hires their opinion? Only one third of respondents to the Korn Ferry survey ask new employees about the recruiting experience. Those who do review the results continuously improve their hiring processes, retention strategies and trouble-shoot issues as they arise. Capture your new hires’ views to ensure you can attract and retain the best candidates for your business.An employee’s first impression of an organisation is a lasting one that can significantly impact their integration with their team and their job satisfaction. Follow this guidance and you’ll bed your new hires in quickly and effectively, reducing turnover and saving time and money on the way.

For support with talent management, contact Adam on 0207 871 7665 or 0161 359 3789 or at