5 Ways To Support Acculturation In Onboarding

Acculturation In Onboarding: 5 Ways To Support It

Studies show high performance and company loyalty increase when an employee has a sense of “fitting in” to your company culture. This makes acculturation a critical step in your employee onboarding process. You spent a lot of time vetting candidates to find just the right person to hire, don’t leave them feeling marginalized by your company culture. Here are 5 ways to support acculturation in onboarding:

1. Set Up A Mentoring Program

A good mentor can act as a native guide to your company culture. Providing new employees with a mentor (preferably someone with their same job or grade level), gives them a friend to turn to and a safe place to ask questions.

A mentor can walk new employees through company processes and provide encouragement. This person will ideally explain and include your new hire in company traditions from water cooler talk to the unwritten list of dos and don’ts in your office.

2. Create Bonding Rituals

Nothing bonds people faster than sharing a common experience, especially if it’s a challenging one. From school clubs to Fortune 500 Companies, many organizations use some kind of initiation activity to make new members feel like part of the group.

Larry O’Toole, founder and CEO of Gentle Giants in Boston, asks each new hire to run the stairs at Harvard Stadium. It’s not about how fast you run the stadium, it’s about employees sharing the common experience of conquering a difficult task.

These rituals can include giving away company swag like shirts, pens, or water bottles to give the new employee a feeling of company ownership. Whether it is completing a challenge or adding your name to a signature wall, company bonding rituals can help your employees feel like part of the team.

3. Teach The “Common” Language

Each company has its own unique brand, lingo, acronymns, and process names. A new employee may feel lost if they get an email inviting them to a FTBA in CR2. They also might feel too embarrassed to ask what is expected and miss out on something important. Following instructions to complete tasks in the right way may also require further explanation.

Give your new employees a cheat sheet that includes common acronyms and lingo they may hear, come across, or need in their job. In no time at all, they’ll be speaking your language.

4. Create A New Hire Community

No one likes to feel like the odd man out. Onboarding more than one employee at the same time can decrease feelings of isolation that result from being “the new guy”. Onboarding can be a social experience that includes team building games or challenges. Each employee will make a few new friends on the first day.

You can continue the association between new employees with a new hire online community. Whether it’s a group chat, message board, or social media page, adding new hires to a social network can increase their engagement with the company and help them feel a sense of comradery. It is a safe place to ask questions, share experiences, and interact with other employees.

5. Tell Great Stories

In cultures throughout the world, fairy tales are told to teach values, celebrate heroic deeds, and give warnings. Storytelling is also a very powerful tool in creating company culture. Share the stories of key moments in your company history like its founding, the first big client, or winning awards. What Apple employee doesn’t know the Steve Jobs story by heart?

Don’t forget to tell the stories of employees at all levels, highlighting the good (and bad) things they have done. Through these stories, you teach your company values. A great customer service story shows you value the customer. A story ending in “and then he was fired” is a good cautionary tale.

A good story, whether in person, on video, or in well-crafted copy, will stick in the mind better than a values list or mission statement. Your new employees will internalize the lessons in your company stories and make the stories, and your company culture, their own.

Final Word 

By focusing on acculturation in onboarding, you can ensure your employees get up to speed on quickly and improve their sense of loyalty so they will be happy at your company for years to come. Want to learn more about ways video can help you communicate culture in onboarding? Download Allen Communication's guide to video in onboarding.

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