We have talked about how an organizational culture aligned to a business’s core values can be a powerful tool. In our first post about this topic, we explained why an ethics-based, customer-centered culture is invaluable in protecting a business’s reputation and long-term sustainability.

Building a strong organizational culture can begin—as we saw in our previous post—with prospects and recruits. Embracing and sending the right messages can reinforce the culture for existing employees and for the candidates they interview. How can that energy be sustained once a new hire joins the business?

Use onboarding to embed desired culture and values

A properly designed onboarding and initial training program can begin socializing new employees to the organization’s core principles and embedding the desired culture.  How can this be done?

  • Show your values: Find ways to represent the desired culture. In the early days of Google LLC, new hires famously received a helium balloon on their desks the first day.1 This inexpensive token was a clear signal to the new hire that he/she had joined a “fun” workplace, while alerting colleagues that a new employee had arrived. In a retail bank, use job shadowing to show new hires what the company truly means by customer service. Memorable stories and lessons—such as why a banker advised against a product for a client if the product wasn’t suitable—should be shared in staff meetings and recognized by leadership as excellent conduct.
  • Incorporate desired culture into formal learning: Initial training and onboarding can help illustrate how culture and ethics are woven into the business. Here at Accenture, Onboarding starts with a three-day classroom program, where new hires meet each other and learn about our history, vision and core values from experienced colleagues. Introduction to our culture and code of business ethics formally begins on day one, demonstrating the importance Accenture places on this topic. The formal Onboarding program continues throughout the first year at the firm, providing multiple opportunities to reinforce and embed the desired culture, both formally and informally.

Clarify and affirm roles & responsibilities

As new employees integrate into the organization, either through the new hire process or via merger & acquisition, business leaders and HR should take the time to clarify and affirm expectations around roles and responsibilities, and reinforce adherence to core organization principles and compliance obligations. How can this be done?

  • Discuss and reconfirm roles and responsibilities: Between the time requisitions are posted and a new employee starts, job descriptions might have changed. For example, the hiring manager may be different from the day-to-day supervisor. Similarly, job descriptions and titles can be especially undefined for employees joining through a merger or acquisition. Supervisors should clarify day-to-day and longer-term responsibilities at regular checkpoints (i.e., day one, day 30 and day 90), explicitly stating expectations for both tasks and behaviors. Making time to discuss the responsibilities is critical to helping new hires understand the required job activities—including any risk management responsibilities—and also how the work gets done.
  • Show correlation between role and business outcome: To build a sense of purpose and confirm the organization’s overall principles, show how the employee’s daily work supports the larger business strategy. Ultimately, every example of good conduct cannot be formally captured in job descriptions, training or new hire materials. Promoting ethical conduct, customer-centricity and personal accountability, however, via ongoing communications and supervisor-to-employee discussions, reinforces desired behaviors. Showcasing as many examples as possible helps make conduct culture more tangible for employees.

As businesses work toward bridging the gap between desired culture and current conduct and behaviors, business leadership, compliance and HR can make these efforts more effective by working in tandem to communicate, demonstrate, and reinforce the targeted behaviors and culture throughout the employee lifecycle.


  1. “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead,” Laszlo Bock, John Murray, 2015.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.