This weekend is one of parallels for me, every thought seems to have a twin. On October 6, I'm presenting on attracting talent, onboarding and retention at a local conference. I thought I would interview a few local HR Directors at area companies to highlight their excellent onboarding programs.

Call after call I came across mediocrity where anything resembling an onboarding effort even exists. I asked the simple question, "Can you tell me about your onboarding program?" I was often met with silence, stumbling words or "Uhh". I would have lost a lot of chips in a poker game, for I would have bet heftily that these well known local companies would have more than "employee orientation". Even the one that received a few employer awards over the years has only the meiotic trappings of a potential one.

OK, that's here and it just goes to show I have work to do in the community with the HR Task Force. But, on a larger scale there are many fine examples of onboarding programs out there and that's where the parallel comes in.


Onboarding programs are like aircraft and the amenities and service that come with their size.

KitUtility Kit Aircraft

Walk out to the tarmac carrying your own bags, hoist them inside and watch the pilot doing the pre-flight check. Strap yourself in and make sure you have a barf bag. There's no room to move around and the ride is likely to often be bumpy.

Utility Kit type companies have the same system for new hires. You get walked to a desk or work area, fill out paperwork and fly by the seat of your pants. You will not have a comfy seat. If you're not lucky enough to have a good bush pilot with a compass you'll soon be lost and grabbing for that barf bag. The odds of having a development plan or receiving formal feedback on your performance is about the same as someone packing your parachute for you. The vending machine doesn't work in the hall.

Private Jets

Improved headroom and a separate washroom define this category. Some models offer a flight attendant, the later models also have much-improved luggage space. There will be emergency cards in the seat pockets with instructions on self service oxygen and how to use your seat as a flotation device. Still, you keep wondering when you'll arrive.

At companies of this caliber, the Office Manager can answer questions for you and help you with office supplies and paperwork. You'll get introduced to the other staff on a walk around tour and have team meetings. Office gossip will likely be your onboarding and some of the guys will take you out to lunch and tell you who you can trust and about the flat 3% COLA yearly increase and lack of incentives and bonuses. You'll have a lot of questions and anxiety about how things actually work and who exactly to ask. This feeling can last a long time and get in the way of employee satisfaction.

VIP Jets

These aircraft have spacious cabins, offering seating for 8 to 16 in first-class executive style. Full standing headroom, galley and in-flight service are standard.The luggage hold can accommodate 15 to 20 assorted-sizedpieces. A car will take you out to the runway and an attendant will take your bags.

This is where formal onboarding programs start to appear. You'll have an orientation that will include danish in the boardroom and visits from suits. You'll sign off on a ton of policies to include confidentiality, non-harassment and use of communications tools. You'll watch a video on diversity and be given time to sit in your office, in your comfy chair, to "get used to it".

Boing-727- VIP JetVIP Airliners

The ultimate aircraft for private jet travel.These airliners have been converted to accommodate smaller groups in VIP first-class executive seating.These aircraft are popular for heads of state, offering comfort and luxury with sleeping arrangements for the principal.They are the perfect aircraft for worldwide tours.

Companies who have arrived at this level of organizational development provide a reserved seat at every table for Human Resources and allow it to be highly effective. You'll be mailed a corporate handbook, insurance forms, and be scheduled for the next orientation at HQ, in person, by conference call or webinar. There will be a greeting from the LMS in your inbox with the link to log on to your onboarding agenda. It will include scheduled modules to be completed on the performance management system, policies, culture, corporate citizenship, benefits and others. You'll complete your profile on the corporate web portal, be assigned a sponsor and attend a team presentation and integration session. You'll enjoy the ride.


  • The size of a company may or may not reflect the amount of technology and resources it employs, to include someone in the HR seat.
    • It doesn't have to reflect how it onboards new employees.
    • Where technology is absent, manual processes can be employed to perform identical functions in the onboarding process.
  • Showing employees you care about them to the extent you have developed a program to set them up for success, instead of leaving them to cling to their seat to save themselves, is a huge way to lead by example, promote a healthy company culture, gain loyalty, ensure rapid productivity and increase longevity.


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