Company Culture and Onboarding

Use these practical tips to integrate your company culture during onboarding, and beyond.

The Importance of Introducing Company Culture During the Onboarding Process

Onboarding is the best opportunity to make a lasting impression on employees—first impressions count. A positive onboarding experience can lead to employees staying longer, higher engagement, and a better understanding of the values and behaviors that make up the company culture. It’s important to create an onboarding experience that puts culture first as opposed to treating it as an additional component.

Instilling company culture early and at every opportunity is advantageous for both the employer and employee. Anyone who has changed organizations can speak to the steep learning curve, which often doesn’t apply to the technical pieces of their role. It refers to the unspoken rules and values that are behind every decision. As for leaders, this upfront commitment to culture supports their employees, allowing them to be productive and effective much sooner.

How can you create an onboarding experience that is focused on instilling company culture?

The first step is to create the space to have a culture-focused onboarding experience. Onboarding is often focused on compliance and paperwork—benefits, payroll, retirement, policies, etc. You can get these out of the way even before the employee’s first day, which will allow you to focus on the more important aspects of onboarding.

You can use a tool like GoCo to send all HR documents. The Magic Docs functionality allows users to digitally sign, complete, and track all forms. Your employee won’t have to scan, print, or email documents. They will be able to complete the entire new hire process in a few minutes, including payroll information and health benefits enrollments. You can also easily collect compliance documents like the I-9 and the W-4 with GoCo.

An automated process for compliance paperwork is indispensable from a productivity perspective, but it’s also a key aspect of the new hire experience. Your new hire wants to focus on their new company; not on signing documents.

Avoid the unnecessary burden of completing onboarding documents and implement an HRMS platform like GoCo to elevate the employee onboarding experience, reduce the administrative burden on your HR team, and allow everyone to focus on the company culture components of onboarding.

Next, make company culture the focus of their first week


Onboarding is not limited to the first day or week of a new employee’s journey. It can take months until an employee is fully productive in a new organization. By focusing on culture during the employee’s initial week, you’ll increase engagement and set them up for success in navigating the workplace.

    • Set the Tone: Before the employee’s first day, send a welcome video from the HR team, the manager, or the wider team.  Utilize this as an opportunity to set the tone for your company’s culture. Is it casual? Formal? Playful? This message will provide the employee with key insight into what they can expect once they start.
    • Tell Your Story: Storytelling is a powerful tool. Before you can talk about the company’s mission and goals, talk about where you came from. If possible, have an early employee or founder speak about the organization’s history and the roots of the culture.
    • Explain the Company’s Bread and Butter: It’s important for employees to understand how the organization pays their salaries. We call this the organization’s bread and butter. This may not be directly tied to the roles of those in finance, legal, HR, or other support services, but it’s key for them to understand the product or service the organization offers.
    • Organize Fireside Chats: Ask senior leaders to have fireside chats with small groups of employees. These intimate, transparent sessions can be very insightful. Leaders of an organization are spokespeople for the company’s culture and can reiterate that through the way they speak.
    • Encourage Connection: You can share an online directory via GoCo, which includes short bios and pictures of everyone they will work with. Encourage the new employee to reach out to others in the organization to set up lunches, coffee chats, etc. so that they can begin to understand the common values and behaviors demonstrated by employees.
    • Invite Them to Community Events: Ask well-connected employees to invite new hires to company social events, such as playing board games at lunch or attending a fitness class. This is a low-pressure way for new hires to meet others with similar interests, which can foster more connection to the company’s culture.
    • Ask for Feedback! Don’t ignore this important follow-up. Feedback can help improve your onboarding experience for future new hires, but most importantly, it demonstrates to the new hire that your organization is committed to learning, transparency, and continuous improvement.

By focusing on instilling company culture early and at every opportunity, you’ll elevate the onboarding experience and help new employees feel connected to your organization from the very first day.

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