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Why You Need to Incorporate Company Culture from Day One of Onboarding

Onboarding a new employee is a crucial time for companies to incorporate company culture. The first few weeks at a new job shape an employee’s entire experience and perception of the company. That’s why it’s important to use onboarding as an opportunity to establish company culture right away.

When new hires understand the culture and values early on, they can better align with norms and expectations. A strong focus on culture in onboarding leads to more engaged, loyal, and productive employees. Studies show that new hires who go through culture-focused onboarding have higher job satisfaction, retention, and performance. This article will explore some of the top ways to incorporate company culture into an onboarding program.

Why Company Culture Matters in Onboarding

The onboarding period is a new employee’s first impression of a company, so it offers a valuable chance to establish the kind of culture the organization wants to cultivate. There are several key reasons why focusing on company culture right from the start matters:

  • Onboarding sets the tone for the employee’s entire experience at the company. The culture they are exposed to initially often shapes their engagement and fulfilment long term.
  • It allows new hires to quickly understand company values, norms, and unwritten rules. This ensures they can adapt to the environment faster.
  • Clearly conveying the culture aligns employee goals and values with those of the company early on. This promotes cooperation and common purpose.
  • Dedicated culture ambassadors can share insider perspectives on what the culture is like and what makes it special or unique.
  • Reinforcing culture throughout onboarding increases the chances that new hires will embody the culture moving forward.
  • It builds a strong foundation of shared culture that can then be sustained through ongoing development and engagement initiatives.

Ways to Incorporate Company Culture in Onboarding

There are many impactful ways companies can incorporate company culture into the onboarding experience for new employees. Here are some impactful ways to incorporate company culture during onboarding:

  • Start with a dedicated culture kickoff meeting explaining the history of the company, its core mission and values, and what makes the culture unique.
  • Provide onboarding handbooks/materials detailing cultural norms, core values, diversity practices, communication styles, and leadership principles so new hires can refer back to them. Encourage new hires to ask questions about the content.
  • Assign a culture ambassador – someone who embodies the culture – to share insights, advice, and stories with new hires one-on-one.
  • Schedule visits for new hires to tour other offices, departments, or teams to see the culture in action first-hand.
  • Plan social events and team-building activities that reflect the culture like lunches, after-work happy hours, or volunteer outings.
  • Compile a digital presentation with examples of how company values come to life through videos of events, employee testimonials, awards, and community service projects with real examples.
  • Provide new hires with swag or gifts like t-shirts, water bottles, or notebooks featuring the company’s brand and values.
  • Encourage managers to highlight cultural norms and values in conversations with new reports.
  • Create quick surveys after 30/60/90 days asking new employees about their impressions of the culture so far.
  • Build opportunities for new hires to ask questions and offer feedback about the culture they’re experiencing.
  • Develop community messaging channels like Slack groups or Yammer focused specifically on discussing elements of the culture.
  • Feature new hires in company newsletters or the intranet introducing them and their onboarding experience.

Tactics to Reinforce Culture After Onboarding

The work of establishing company culture during onboarding doesn’t stop once initial orientation and training finish. There are many effective tactics to continue reinforcing the culture with new employees over their first year:

  • Implement a formal mentorship program that pairs new hires with veteran team members who exemplify the culture. These mentors can answer questions and share wisdom on aligning with cultural norms.
  • Send out monthly pulse surveys to new employees asking for feedback on how they are experiencing the culture after onboarding. Look for opportunities to improve.
  • Schedule regular touchpoints between new employees and their managers to discuss how the employee is adopting the culture and if they have any concerns.
  • After 90 days, conduct a more thorough survey asking new hires about how the onboarding experience did or didn’t establish company culture effectively. Consider ways to improve.
  • Plan annual culture workshops or retreats that bring all employees together to reconnect on values, rebuild norms, and reinforce what makes the culture special.
  • Implement peer recognition programs where employees can call out coworkers who demonstrate exceptional cultural awareness. Highlight these stories.
  • Encourage managers to monitor new hires for signs they may be struggling to adapt to the culture and then provide coaching.
  • Share stories highlighting how employees have solved problems or achieved success by tapping into the company’s cultural strengths.
  • Track retention rates among new hires and conduct exit interviews to identify if poor cultural fit was a factor in leaving.
  • Report metrics showing the business impact of strong company culture like satisfaction, performance, and innovation rates.

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Key Takeaways

The importance of incorporating company culture into the onboarding process cannot be overstated. Here are some key takeaways on how to do this effectively:

  • Make culture a priority from day one. Dedicate time and resources specifically to establishing cultural awareness during onboarding. Don’t make it an afterthought.
  • Leverage onboarding as a critical window to shape new hire engagement, loyalty, and alignment with the company’s values and purpose.
  • Use a diverse array of touchpoints, messaging, activities and ambassadors to convey what your culture is all about and why it is special.
  • Don’t just explain the culture, but actively demonstrate and reinforce it through real examples and inclusion in social events. Culture comes to life through experience.
  • Encourage new hires to ask questions, provide feedback and express any concerns about the culture early on so you can clarify expectations.
  • Tracking metrics related to new hire retention, satisfaction, and performance can reveal the business impact of cultivating a strong, positive culture.
  • The work doesn’t stop after onboarding finishes. To sustain culture, companies need ongoing development, communications, communities, and reinforcement.
  • A highly engaged workforce that lives the culture is hard to build but easy to lose. By focusing on culture during onboarding, companies set the right foundation.
  • Onboarding and culture go hand in hand. When done effectively, this process plants the seeds for an organization’s purpose and values to thrive for years to come.


The onboarding period offers an invaluable opportunity to establish a strong company culture that will sustain an organization over the long term. By dedicating time and resources to immerse new employees in the culture from day one, companies can align new hires with values and purpose, leading to greater engagement, retention, and performance.

Some of the most impactful ways to incorporate company culture into onboarding include assigning culture ambassadors, providing hands-on experiences with norms and behaviours, conducting surveys to reinforce culture after onboarding, and tracking related business metrics. The culture that takes root during this crucial beginning sets expectations for an employee’s entire tenure.

When done right, prioritizing culture in onboarding leads to more satisfied and productive teams who feel connected to the company’s mission. That deep alignment sparks the kind of outstanding innovations, creativity, and business results that any organization seeks to achieve. Investing in culture now pays dividends for years to come.

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Why is company culture important to establish during onboarding?

Onboarding shapes an employee’s entire perspective and experience at the company. Establishing culture early leads to greater alignment, engagement, and retention long-term.

How much time should be spent focused on culture during onboarding?

Ideally, at least 25-30% of the onboarding curriculum and activities should focus specifically on establishing company culture with ample time for questions and discussions.

How do we track the business impact of culture-focused onboarding?

Metrics like new hire retention rates, employee satisfaction scores, and performance over the first year can reveal the ROI of embedding culture from day one.

Who is responsible for championing culture during onboarding?

Everyone leads by example, but HR and People teams should take the lead in coordinating culture-centric onboarding initiatives.

What missteps should we avoid when establishing culture?

Don’t make culture an afterthought, communicate it occasionally, fail to demonstrate it in action, or neglect to sustain it long-term.

What materials should we provide new hires about culture?

Company value statements, cultural norms overviews, codes of conduct, diversity principles, and handbooks summarizing unwritten rules of your workplace.

How do we convey our culture to remote employees during onboarding?

Send care packages representing your culture, match them with ambassadors in similar time zones, organize video coffee chats, and encourage in-person kickoff if possible.

What role should current employees play in onboarding culture?

Encourage employees to share stories showcasing culture in action and provide peer mentorship opportunities for new hires beyond the onboarding period.

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