5 Ways to use Core Values in Onboarding

Most companies spend a lot of time during the hiring process, only to let the new hire flounder once they’ve started the job.

This leads to the new employee wondering if they made the wrong choice coming to this new company.  Often the choice to stay or to leave is made within the first week.

So, the onboarding process is really important, and key to onboarding is communicating the company’s core values.

If you don’t have your company core values thought finalized yet, you can read more about that here:


Here is a quick summary to effectively using your core values during the onboarding process:

  1. Make core values sticky
  2. Use examples of wins and losses
  3. Pair them with a values buddy
  4. Do weekly values check ins
  5. Tell your own values story

Make core values sticky

Your core values might be good and meaningful and really represent what matters to the organization, but if no one can remember them, they aren’t going to be of much use.

Make sure they’re ‘sticky.’

Here are some quick ways to make your values memorable:

  • Use alliteration: Start each value with the same letter. Example:  Win, Wash, Wow. (We Win together, no one’s too good to Wash toilets, and we give Wow customer service)
  • Make an acrostic: Make the first letter of each value form a word that’s easy to remember (CREW – Character, Results, Experience of the customer, Wow)
  • Use sayings that are already in use in the company (Watch the pennies)
  • Tell stories about the values
  • Tell company legends that go back to the roots of the formation of the company. Stories are the most effective way to help anyone remember what your values are.

For more ways to make your values sticky, read this:


Use real examples of core values wins and losses

People appreciate authenticity, and onboarding is the time to get real about what works and what doesn’t work in the company culture.

Take some time to share practical examples of what works and what doesn’t (without using names).

For instance, you might say, “One of our core values is ‘get it done.’  As you know, our business is seasonal, and one thing that really doesn’t work around here is going home early, or even taking any vacation days during the month of September.  You can count on working hard and long hours throughout that whole month.

You can also share positive examples of what does work.

“Another one of our core values is ‘teamwork,’ and it is really appreciated when you join in our weekly lunchtime, birthday celebrations.  It’s a time when we relax and share birthday cake and talk over what has happened during the week.  It’s not strictly mandatory, but you should make it a priority.”

The Professional Leadership Institute provides training on How to Create Company Core Values and offers a free preview.

Pair them with a values buddy

This is an extremely effective way to smooth out a new employee’s first month.  Make sure you pair them with someone who lives out the core values.

Explain to them that they can call on their ‘buddy’ about anything throughout their first month (or two or three).  When they have questions about the role or the company, or just need to talk, their buddy is there for them.

When the buddy models the core values, your new hire is very likely to pick them up too.  As the saying goes, ‘more is caught than taught.”

 Do weekly values check ins

Your new employee’s manager, and even another more senior person in the organization should do a weekly check in to see how the person is fitting in.

Their first month or two are also great times to get insights into the culture from someone with a fresh perspective.  Ask them how they see the values being lived out on a daily basis.

Ask them about ‘EBI’s.’  EBI stands for ‘even better if.’  How could the culture be better?  How could value be better emphasized and lived out?  Ask, and you’ll get some really interesting responses that you wouldn’t get from people who have been around for a long time and are used to the way things operate.

Fresh perspective brings fresh ideas.

 Tell your own values story

By all means, don’t be afraid to get personal.

Choose a value or two that you resonate with and that you believe makes the company special, and tell your new hire why that is.

Always start with the why.  Talk about the kind of environment you are trying to build and how the core values contribute to that.  Share how the values have helped you focus.

Get personal and tell your own story.  Your new hire will greatly appreciate it.

In summary:

When you’re onboarding a new employee, use your core values to set the right tone for their behavior.  If the values are right, you’ll sidestep a lot of drama and unnecessary problems.

When using core values in onboarding,

  1. Make core values sticky
  2. Use examples of wins and losses
  3. Pair them with a values buddy
  4. Do weekly values check ins
  5. Tell your own values story

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on ‘5 ways to use core values in onboarding.’  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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