What you risk when you don’t involve new hires in your culture.
How soon do you involve new hires in your organizational culture assessment and change initiative? This is a tricky question for many companies, who often feel that the new hires need time to make judgment about the current culture and provide much input on the change process.
Unfortunately, this approach can lead to confusion and mixed messages for the new employees, and a lost opportunity for valuable insight for the employer. As you consider your strategy for engaging new hires, consider ways in which these new employees can be a benefit to your culture initiative.
How new is too new?
As a new employee, am I too new to share my perspective on our culture? As an employer, do I value the brand new employee’s perspective? These are some of the questions faced by employee and employer alike during a new hire’s onboarding process. Some companies believe that there should be a minimum tenure requirement for an employee to be qualified to share their perspective on the company culture. This often result in them excluding these brand new employees from feedback process – e.g., organizational culture survey activities.
This perception can come from a place of good intentions. An employer may want to grant more weight to the feedback of employees who have been with the company for many years. Or they may want to focus the energy of their new hires in a different direction. After all, the employees themselves have a lot to tackle during the onboarding process, and may not feel they have much to contribute toward the culture of a company they only just joined.
However, setting a minimum tenure requirement sends the message to new hires that their feedback isn’t wanted. This creates a barrier between employer and employee that is best avoided. Instead, engage new hires from the beginning, and learn what you can from their perspective.
New hires bring fresh insight.
Our research shows that how employees perceive the organization’s culture follows a U-shape in that employees tend to be more critical as they gain experience and then the perception becomes more positive later in their tenure.. Your experienced employees generally have a better in-depth understanding of your organization and have enough history to see ways in which your organization has been consistent and successful, and where it has suffered chronic failure.
By contrast, new hires may not know your company, but they will come to your organization with fresh eyes and a different set of experiences and behaviors. These carryovers from other corporate cultures can provide valuable insight into how to improve your own culture, and are worth listening to while they’re still fresh in your new hire’s memory.
Establish loyalty from the beginning.
When integrating your new hires with your company’s culture, investing in engagement from the start pay off in the long run. After all, you want your new hires to learn and adapt to your organization’s culture, but you also hired them for their initiative and innovation. In their earliest days, they will be working hard to fit in and to prove themselves on the job. Soliciting their feedback will help them do both.
This is why our recommendation is to engage everyone in the feedback and change process, right from the beginning. What better way to onboard new people and make them part of the team than by actually getting them involved?