All Onboard!

Imagine your first day of work at Company A.

There’s no one to greet you and you don’t know anyone there.  You’re not sure where you’re going to sit, but once you figure that out (with the help of a kind receptionist), there is no computer for you to work on.

Someone (was that your supervisor?) tells you that you’re late for the benefits meeting with HR and you better hurry and get there.  You break for lunch but you don’t know where the cafeteria is.

How are you feeling about your decision to join Company A?


Now, imagine your first day of work at Company B.

You know exactly what to expect because when your new supervisor called to welcome you to the team, she also told you that an information packet was on its way.  That packet included her contact info, your HR representative’s contact info, your job description and a detailed orientation plan for your first two days.

Your supervisor is waiting for you at the front door when you arrive.  She takes you to your desk which is complete with a computer, phone and basic office supplies.  She invites you to the cafeteria for coffee and reviews the orientation plan as well as how the rest of your first week will go.  She then escorts you to orientation and introduces you to the HR Manager.  When it’s time to break for lunch, your supervisor returns to accompany you to the cafeteria, has lunch with you, and provides a list of local eateries for lunch on your own on Day Two, if you decide not to use the cafeteria.

How are you feeling about your decision to join Company B?

A member of the Twitter community was recently lamenting the lack of good onboarding processes.  Those first few days and weeks can make or break the success of a new employee.  The AberdeenReport, posted on HROnline, reports that 90% of companies believe that employees make a “stay-don’t stay” decision within the first six months of employment.

An article published on discusses the critical importance of, and provides some best practices for, the onboarding process before the first day and well beyond the first week.  The welcoming begins prior to the employee’s start date with a “Welcome to the team” phone call (preferred) or handwritten note, followed by a well-planned orientation and training program.  The article identifies three key purposes to the onboarding process:

First, it ensures that the new hire feels welcomed, comfortable, prepared, and supported.

These feelings increase the new hire’s ability to make an impact within the organization, both immediately and over time.

Finally, employee success leads to satisfaction and retention, which allows the organization to continue to meet its mission.

How is the onboarding process at your company?

If you could use some help, published an onboarding checklist for employers to use as a reference to build upon.  All of these items may or may not apply to you, but you can tweak it as needed.  Once your leadership team agrees that all of the essentials are included, be sure that key personnel are aware the checklist exists and set the expectation that it is to be followed.  Consistency across your organization will support equal opportunities for success for all new hires.

Another important aspect of the onboarding process is that it is not limited to the first day or two of employment.

Kevin Wheeler, president and founder of Global Learning Resources, Inc.,  and a contributing author to describes onboarding as both orientation and assimilation.  Those are two important – and different – keys to an employee’s success.

Now, with your new tools and increased awareness, let’s assume that your orientation plan is a solid one.  The next step is how to assimilate that employee into the overall environment.  This can include teambuilding, corporate culture awareness, ongoing job training, opportunities for socialization, and other activities that make the individual feel like an important part of something larger than himself.

The more effective employee assimilation is, the more successful employee retention is.

Need more ideas? provides a list of the Ten Commandments of Employee Onboarding.

You can also read The First 90 Days, by Michael Watkins.

And, we can ask our readers!

What tips can you share for a successful orientation and assimilation program?  What lessons can you share from your own onboarding experiences?


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Eleanor Biddulph
Eleanor Biddulph
 is the EVP of Client Services at Progressive Medical, Inc.
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2 responses to “All Onboard!

  1. Eleanor,

    Great article! Unfortunately, there are too many Company As and not enough Company Bs. The good news is more organizations are aware of the importance of onboarding and its impact on its talent and bottom lines.

    It is important to attend to the logistical items you mentioned and when those are complete, it is critical to focus the new hire’s attention on getting integrated into the culture and role.

    These are the 2 biggest reasons that new hires (particularly new leaders) fail–not understanding the new culture and not having clarity about the role.

    For more info, we have tools and resources on our website

    Thanks for your insights!

    Erika Lamont


  2. Erika, thank you for sharing your comment and link to your company’s onboarding resources. It is great to see growing attention to this area of employee engagement and retention. Hope you’ll stop by L2L frequently!


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