After a three hour presentation to a group of CEOs from a variety of industries, a veteran CEO and a fairly new CEO both posed the same question . . . “If I could only do one of the many things you shared to improve the way we integrate new employees into our company, what would it be?”

As we start the new year, I would like to share the same recommendation I shared with the two CEOs.

Before you figure out task lists, calendars, agendas and human resources paperwork; consider the culture of your organization and how you would like to express it to your new employees.

Your company’s culture is going to be communicated to new employees one way or another.  If you are not intentional about the message that is communicated, you may be wasting all of the effort, time and money that you put into your hiring process because your super star new hire’s enthusiastic positive attitude could be poisoned by the end of the first day.

Here’s the problem:  Whether or not leaders at your organization have intentionally created a culture, one exists.  Those unintentional cultures that are organically grown often have inconsistent policies, practices, and behaviors.  There is no dominant culture for leaders to consciously align decisions with, because the culture is undefined or unintentional.

The result of these unintentional cultures is that 30% of corporate cultures are unhealthy.  Given that culture is one of the top drivers of employee engagement, employee happiness and commitment suffer.

According to McLean & Company, culture is one of the top drivers of employee engagement, and employee engagement drives key business metrics.  Compared to disengaged employees, engaged employees generate 43% more revenue, are twice as likely to be top performers, and are 38% more likely to stay at their organization, even when offered a 10% raise in pay for a similar position at another organization.

Beyond engagement, a healthy corporate culture brings many benefits, including attracting and retaining the right people, high levels of productivity, and increased retention.

While you are anxious to get new recruits up and running there is a tendency to focus on actions and tasks, but you are wise to check in on your current company culture and ensure that it matches what you want it to be.  If there is a gap between the culture you have and the culture you want, the first thing you want to do to build an effective Onboarding program is to determine how you can work into your new hire’s itinerary some specific ways to communicate the culture you aspire to create.

Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in Onboarding top talent.  For information about Merit’s virtual course designed to guide executives through the process of creating an effective Onboarding program, call or email Merit at 720-980-1286 or


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