In an attempt to fill open vacancies and get ramped back up to pre-pandemic production levels, leaders are pulling out all the stops to attract, hire, and onboard new employees. I've heard of organizations flying truck drivers halfway across the country and putting them up in hotels for months at a time to run local delivery routes and warehouse workers being offered sign-on bonuses five to 10 times higher than in 2019 in an effort to outbid their competitors.
Undoubtedly, at some point, the dearth of viable candidates will start to right-balance and your hiring practices will likely revert back to something a little less frenetic. In the meantime, however, your short-term focus on getting bodies through the door may negatively impact the long-term culture of your organization. In a hyper-competitive labor market, it's more likely that you turn a blind eye to behavioral or cultural fit merely to plug the gaps, which can end up diluting, or worse still distorting, your culture.
Here are four things you can do to make sure you maintain your culture while you ramp your team back up:
1. Focus hard on your culture and values in your onboarding
Most onboarding programs are much too focused on policies, processes, and getting people set up for their job. All necessary information, of course, but not particularly helpful in immersing a new hire in who you are, what you value, and how they should show up.
Ditch the mind-numbing information dump (or at least relegate it to a self-paced orientation guide) and instead have your new hires spend time in conversation with your top leaders about the vision for the organization, the unique aspects of your culture, and those values and behaviors that are most important for succeeding in the long run.
2. Assign a seasoned team member as a buddy
Nothing creates a sense of divide between the old guard of an organization and the new guard like a mass hiring spree conducted under constrained circumstances. As a glut of new employees walk through your doors under what may be perceived as heavily advantageous terms, you run the risk of alienating your legacy staff, who have stuck with you over the challenges of the last year.
Rather than waiting for a rift to emerge -- which would undoubtedly cause a lasting impact on your culture -- and then trying to fix it, you can get ahead of it by pairing some of your long-standing employees with your newbies.
Assign each new hire to a buddy and give the buddy a series of discussion points to weave into the first three months of the new hire's employment. This will give your new employee a deeper understanding of the traditions and norms of your company and help create stronger relationships from the get-go.
3. Set clear 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals
The first three months after someone starts with you are the most important for creating alignment between their personal goals and values and those of the organization. Purposefully building in alignment over this period is much easier than re-aligning wayward expectations once you're the initial past 90 days.
Each new hire should have a clear and achievable set of goals for their first 30, 60, and 90 days that cover not just their functional ability to do their job but also the steps they should take to familiarize themselves with how they are expected to show up. Ensure these goals are clearly understood, agreed to, and reviewed with each new hire and their direct leader.
4. Provide ongoing, short-term feedback
Behavioral adjustment is tough at the best of times, and it's particularly difficult for someone embarking on a new challenge like a new job. Trying to acclimate to a new setting, a new team, and new ways of working is hard enough without also needing to be aware of what is and isn't appropriate behavior.
Giving in-the-moment feedback when a new employee says or behaves in a way that isn't aligned with your values is the easiest way to support them in making that change. Encourage a culture of empathetic, short-term feedback to help your newbies integrate, and you'll lighten the load for them considerably, while guarding those things most important to your organization.