defines company culture as the shared values, attributes, and characteristics within an organization – it also makes up the personality of a company and its work environment.

There are many steps involved in creating an efficient and effective hiring plan. These include identifying the requirements for the role, recruitment, making a hiring decision, and more. Just as important is the ability to engage new hires culturally once they’re on board. In the current environment, how can leadership help newly hired employees grasp and understand the culture of a company while working remotely much of the time? We interviewed several leaders and new hires at American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) to find out.

1. A holistic Welcome Aboard program

 Amex GBT believes in fostering genuine interactions, building relationships, and making sure that employees feel engaged, supported, and enabled from the start of their new careers. “Our recently refreshed and elevated Welcome Aboard program provides a holistic approach to onboarding that gives all new joiners a focused learning path for the first year of employment with a detailed framework of learning, resources, and leader support that creates a strong foundation right from the start,” said Patti Huska, chief people officer, in Amex GBT’s environmental, social, and governance report (ESG).

2. Onboarding for success

Participating in a solid onboarding program while working remotely is generally one of the first interactions a newly hired individual will have with a company. The moment the computer is first turned on, that initial connection is made.

“I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of excitement once my computer was first up and running and this vibrant screensaver appeared. The world icons with the sun shining brightly over them that preceded the Amex GBT logo meant the dawn of an exciting, new era for me. It was a precursor of what was to come,” said new hire Kim Charles, copywriter, US small-medium sized enterprises, global marketing. Kim found the onboarding process not only a great way to learn about the inner workings of Amex GBT, but it also provided her with an initial feeling of inclusion simply by knowing and understanding the company on a deeper level via a series of well-executed onboarding sessions. These sessions touched on everything from company brand, compliance, leadership, and more.

3. The monthly (or more frequent) in-person meeting

In-person meetings are a much bigger deal than they used to be. “All teams and companies are re-energized by the opportunity to get together,” said David Reimer, executive vice president, global clients and general manager, the Americas, in the April edition of The Boss Magazine. There is now a sense of excitement that going to the office holds. The opportunity to attend meetings alongside colleagues, engage in chit-chat around the proverbial water cooler, and collaborate side by side on a project allows for an additional layer of culture and engagement to take shape. This clearly brings into play the importance of human connection and, for employees, an appreciation of why they work where they do.

4. Prioritizing communication and team building

 In the absence of seeing your team and colleagues daily, clear, consistent communication, along with transparency encourages accountability and engagement. This in turn drives a feeling of belonging and being a part of something bigger, providing a sense of connection with a company’s culture. As a recently hired employee, digital marketing analyst Lee-Ann Moore feels that communication alongside team-building efforts is key. “Having an open line of communication and meeting key stakeholders helped me tremendously. While working at home, it can be hard to build one-on-one relationships with coworkers. My supervisor made a list of people that I should speak with to gain a deeper understanding of their roles. Those meetings helped me build relationships, and now I feel I can reach out to these coworkers when I need assistance.”

5. Engagement by joining an inclusion group

Leadership can show new hires how they can become a part of something bigger and make a difference at the same time. A diverse and inclusive workplace makes everyone feel equally involved and supported in all areas of the workplace culture in both remote and in-person environments. It’s also another way remote workers can deepen their sense of connection. Employee engagement and joining an inclusion group go hand in hand when fostering a sense of belonging and a deeper tie to company culture.

We had the opportunity to connect with Anna Johnson, senior manager, strategic client management/private equity and global lead for our Black Engagement Network (BEN), to get her insight on this topic. “I feel that the best way to engage in a company’s culture is to start interacting with company employees. Additionally, if you start with awareness around positive self-change, this will help quickly endorse a more positive work environment and set the stage for mutual respect.”

Anna mentioned that within BEN, through its quarterly all-hands calls, we provide exposure for employees to start the change from within, by educating on behaviors like microaggressions and bias. The insights and awareness learned through our all-hands call, we believe, can spark an immediate adjustment in how people treat one another, which can happen in person or virtually. Since companies are made up of their people, then the best place to begin cultural engagement would be with the People.

Aligning for the win  

Ultimately, cultural connection circles back to forward-thinking leaders who are willing to act, fuel change, and invest in the everyday resilience and meaningful connections that future-proof how we work and align with a company’s culture.

To learn more about the trends that continue to shape the way we work and cultivate a winning culture, check out our ESG report.