Gartner: Connecting new hires to company culture

By Kate Birch
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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