Apr 16, 2021

Gartner: Connecting new hires to company culture

Onboarding
HRfunction
hiring
remoteworking
Kate Birch
3 min
As remote working continues, Gartner identifies three ways HR leaders can help new hires feel connected to their organisational culture during onboarding
As remote working continues, Gartner identifies three ways HR leaders can help new hires feel connected to their organisational culture during onboardin...

According to Gartner, when it comes to making new company hires feel connected to their organisation, onboarding programmes have ‘missed the mark for years’, and with the onset of the pandemic, and continued remote and hybrid working in place, it’s important that HR leaders both update and improve such onboarding initiatives to set up new hires for success, says Gartner. 

“In a virtual world, it is harder, and more critical, to connect new hires to organisational culture,” says Lauren Smith, VP in the Gartner HR practice. As such, Smith says that “functional leaders must build this bond through an onboarding program that shows empathy for those experiencing it, demonstrates values in action and plants the seeds for peer relationships”. 

In order to connect new hires to the company culture via onboarding, Gartner recommends HR leaders do the following:

1. Prioritise connection over productivity

The shift to virtual onboarding during COVID-19 has proved an isolating experience for new hires due to the fact that in-person training with peers has been replaced with pre-recorded virtual sessions, and Q&A conversations have become ‘how-to’ guides. This focus on productivity has meant new employees are without connections to colleagues or to the organisation’s mission and values. And that’s not good for the employee, nor for business. As according to Gartner research, HR leaders indicate that when employees understand and feel connected to the organization’s culture their performance improves up to 22%

In order to build trust with new hires, leading HR functions are re-examining their onboarding experiences and adapting their programmes with empathy in mind, states Smith, who advises that “rather than merely acknowledging the difficulties of remote onboarding, organisations should create opportunities to integrate the new hire into the existing community and make the process simple and seamless”. She also highlights how some companies are also mapping the new hire journey and offering personalised support at emotional junctures. 

2. Link organisational values to on-the-job decisions

Employers often communicate their mission and values through a number of channels, including company-wide communications from HR and senior leadership, corporate messaging and co-workers demonstrating how their values play out in daily work. Yet, most employees struggle with knowing how to translate cultural values into what they should do in their day-to-day jobs. This is even more the case for remote new hires who aren’t seeing the organisation’s values play out in their colleagues’ behaviours and interactions.

Therefore, leaders must demonstrate what the values look like in action and how they translate to behaviours so new hires fully understand. In this remote working world, some companies are utilising simulations that provide new hires with the opportunity to apply company values to critical business decisions. In these simulations, new hires partner up to work through real-life business scenarios, discuss their responses and receive constructive feedback on how the responses aligned with business values and ideal behaviours

3. Support development of a cross-functional network

Employees are more likely to remain with an employer when they feel connected to their colleagues and yet the shift to a remote or hybrid work environment has made building relationships with co-workers challenging. Gartner points to its September 2020 survey in which 46% of employees said they were interacting with coworkers less often since shifting to remote work; 53% stating that their interactions with colleagues were more transactional rather than meaningful.

“Managers and functional leaders can facilitate connections for new hires by creating visibility into employee profiles and offering communication tips and conversation starters,” Smith says. Some organisations, she says, are pairing hires with a peer mentor at the same level from a different department, suggesting the “mentors can offer a different perspective on organisational culture and provide guidance on how different teams operate and interact with each other, building positive relationships with multiple stakeholders and how to interpret the broader organisational culture.”

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Jun 6, 2021

Business Chief Legend: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo
businesslegend
Leadership
CEO
Kate Birch
4 min
As the first and only female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi smashed corporate America’s glass ceiling and transformed the performance and purpose of PepsiCo

At a recent Asia Pacific-focused event, organised by P&G and UN Women, the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, shared why enabling a diverse and inclusive workforce can directly impact the bottom line.

“If 80% of our products are bought by women because they were the gatekeepers at home, or make all the purchases, why don’t we have a large number of women represented in our ranks,” she told a virtual global crowd of thousands. 

Such business advice may seem rather obvious today, but in 2006, when Nooyi put this business philosophy into practice at PepsiCo, it was both pioneering and progressive. Because not only did the performance of PepsiCo transform under Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as CEO, but so did its purpose and people, with Nooyi widely praised for transforming the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

And who better to do so than someone who had herself smashed the corporate American glass ceiling. Because, when Nooyi became CEO in 2006, following 12 years as Chief Strategist, not only was she among just a handful of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms, and one of very few foreign-born executives, she was both the first female CEO to lead PepsiCo, and the first person of colour. Not to mention also being a wife and mother.

Proving performance and purpose can co-exist

And she more than got the job done, growing PepsiCo revenues by 80%, making the firm more global than it had ever been, so that by the time she stepped down in 2018, nearly 20% of net revenues came from MENA, Asia and Latin America, and expanding the business significantly with key acquisitions (Tropicana) and mergers (Quaker Oats).

But it was Nooyi’s strategic redirection of PepsiCo, transforming both its purpose and people, that really made an impact. As chief architect of PepsiCo’s pledge, Performance with Purpose, unveiled in 2006 and a precursor to the modern sustainability movement, Nooyi repositioned the firm to focus on what is best for the world and for its people, from sustainability and social responsibility to diversity and diet.

She transformed the firm’s D&I agenda, created a culture where workers were encouraged to stay with the company, moved corporate spending away from junk food and into healthier alternatives, redesigned packaging to reduce waste, and switched to renewable energy sources and recycling.

As she told Forbes in 2017, “I wanted to make sure that PepsiCo was not only delivering top-tier financial returns but doing so in a way that was responsive to the needs of the world around us.”

Indra Nooyi talking with US President Biden (then Vice President) in 2014

Smashing corporate America's glass ceiling

And it was this ability to realise a world in which business is both practiced and recognised as a force for good that has earned Nooyi a place in CEO history books and landed her numerous accolades, including 11 honorary degrees, the Hero of Conscious Capitalism award at 2017’s CEO Summit, consistent inclusion in the world’s 100 most powerful women (including #1 by Forbes in 2009/10) and most recently, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a girl from Chennai, India, who was expected to lead a conventional life as a wife and mother, but by her own admission was a bit of a “rebel”, with a passion for playing cricket and lead guitarist in a band. In the late 70s, she relocated to the US, earning herself a Master’s in management from Yale, and beginning a four decade-long strategy-focused career that was born at BCG in 1980 where she spent six years and ended in 2018 following 24 impactful years at PepsiCo.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family. 

Indra Nooyi's memoir will be available from September 28, 2021, and can be pre-ordered. 

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