These days, cultural fit is an important part of the recruiting process. The prevailing wisdom is that you train for skills, and hire for attitude and fit.

But, whereas lots of companies bring culture front and centre in the recruitment process, it’s often thin on the ground when it comes to onboarding. Yet, just as it’s important in the recruitment process, culture needs to be the centrepiece of your onboarding program.

Culture and onboarding are tightly linked

A landmark study of senior executives and HR staffing and recruiting functions by the Aberdeen Group found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment.

Get onboarding wrong, and leave culture out of the mix, and your new hire will spend those first few critical months working out the fastest way to leave. How you handle the first few days and months of a new hire’s employment experience is absolutely crucial.

Employees are more likely to invest themselves personally in your company’s success if they feel aligned. And this starts by being immersed in your culture even before day one. This is as much about your company’s stated values and goals, as it is in the way people dress, or their behaviour at work.

So, if you’re relying on giving new hires a one-day orientation, with a stack of routine admin tasks, and a folder of forms to fill in, then it’s probably time you gave your onboarding process a makeover.

4 ways to shake up your onboarding process

1. Start onboarding before they start

Think about starting your onboarding program early. For instance, the moment they accept your offer – rather than their first day on the job. Most of the HR paperwork can be taken care of well ahead of their first day. Use the time before they actually start to know what they can expect on their first day, provide the names of their co-workers, and formalise their goals. This ensures your new hire’s first day is not focussed on administration, but getting to know their co-workers, and learning about what makes your business tick.

2. Use technology

Using employee onboarding software, you can cut through time-consuming new hire paperwork. This includes the offer letter, NDA, and tax forms. Technology also ensures you’re consistent and helps keep everyone connected throughout the process. Of course, you need to set up new hires’ desk, phone, computer and password logins well before they arrive. And ensure your onboarding collateral is infused with your company’s culture and values.

3. Make a lasting impression

Getting your new employees involved in your company’s culture as soon as possible is a critical part of the onboarding process. But culture isn’t something you pick up in a day. And it’s often the hardest transition for a new employee to make. A key part of the onboarding process is to match a new hire with an appropriate mentor to help the new hire understand and appreciate your company culture. Where you can, enlist the help of senior executives. There’s nothing like direct attention from the leadership team to engender loyalty in new employees.

4. Map out goals

Help your new employees understand team goals, priorities and what success looks like in your company. Include self-guided and guided tasks with self-guided tasks to be completed within a specific timeframe. Rather than expecting your new employee to jump in head first, there is immense value in having them listen and learn while still getting their feet wet. Done well, your new hires will fully understand their roles and how they fit in with the big picture.

Effective cultural onboarding helps new hires get warmed up and hit the ground running.

If you think your onboarding process needs a little fine tuning, you’re not alone. It’s one of the top three topics that business owners ask us for help with.