One of the most common mistakes companies make is that they do not think about how important it is to help their new employee into their roles by having support from and a good relationship with their new colleagues. How come?

According to Deloitte, one of the main reasons why new employees leave within the first year or two is that they do not get along with their new manager or their new colleagues, as well as not liking the company culture. In other words: lack of social integration.

In some way, it is quite funny how social integration often is overlooked at work places. Although our childhood we are told to socialise, how we should try to be integrated and several “make-new-friends-trips” when we start at a new school. When we grow up, and especially in today’s society, we are too often told to remember to network, socialise etc. because it is so important. So why is it that we downgrade the social integration at the work place? New hires need a supportive network to e.g. help show them around and offer advice and guidance. If we were to enable people to build closer bonds with their new team members within the onboarding period, it would for sure foster greater social and cultural integration from the start.

Lack of social and cultural knowledge

A study from Egon Zehnder amongst newly hired Senior Executives found that 70% believed that one of their biggest challenges was a lack of understanding of the norms and practices of how the company worked, and 65% believed that they failed to fit within the company culture. Interestingly, one of the things which they mentioned could have improved their situation was help with navigating internal networks and gaining a stronger and greater insights into the company and the team dynamic.

Ensure better social integration

People are social. We are herd animals. Over the recent years, the rise of social networking platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter just underline how much technology has driven an interest in greater social connectivity. This thirst for being connected and to feel a sense of belonging should be adopted into the pre- and onboarding process. In order to provide a successful onboarding experience, the new hire should establish effective working relationships early on, gaining a clear understanding of how the business really operates under the surface, and this is likely to happen more effectively if the new employee is socially integrated.

Therefore, let us provide you with two ways in which you can ensure better social integration.

Internal Social Network

It almost sounds like a description of Facebook: Internal Social Network – and the idea is kind of the same. Most employees connect with their colleagues on the larger and more commercial networks, however, it definitely makes sense for businesses to develop their own internal network too, for instance network groups or shared platforms. By utilising internal social networks, the new employee is able to chat with existing employees before they start, during the first few weeks and months, and lastly, throughout the employment. A small thing like this will help the new hires to build networks and foster relationships which can support and help them learn. Employees who do not form these work-relationships early on are more likely to leave the company quickly.

Establish Communities

In line with above, enabling new employees – at all levels – to connect, share and learn from each other will help cultural alignment and support and help each other during the settling-in phase. Here, people have the opportunity to network and talk with those having similar roles, interests, responsibilities and challenges.

Furthermore, these shared communities can start discussions, answer questions, crowdsource problems, share best-practice and talk about innovations or changes impacting a specific area or the wider business. It does not have to be anything fancy or something you read in a psychology book, common shared interests and hobbies do the work too.

You might think that there must be a risk that if one or two new employees are unsettled this could rapidly spread though such a group. It might be, however, in practice, it is more likely that anyone taking the time to adjust will be supported and helped by sharing his/her experiences with the others who have also just joined. It is always easier to talk to like-minded people.

To sum up: each new employee must be invited into the internal shared network, digital as well as physical. In that way, they can build close partnerships, relationships and collaborations with their colleagues and if they should feel the need, have someone to confide in. By ensuring a great social integration, you will drive a stronger and more successful onboarding and retention as well as having more engaged, productive and effective employees.