On Boarding getting employees on board and keeping them on board 

On Boarding is management jargon for getting new employees familiar with the way we do things round here. It’s not just about the routines, tasks and knowledge it’s learning about the organisation’s culture. It can also mean learning about the organisation’s unofficial culture the way we really do things round here. 

On Boarding is more than just induction. Induction is what happens on the first day,  making the new employee feel welcome, showing them around, introducing them to their new colleagues, showing them the practical things like location of toilets, arrangements for lunch and tea breaks, getting their ID photo sorted and showing them their work station. Some times there is an induction program, a series of one to one meetings with colleagues and useful contacts where they explain what they do and how it fits with the new employees roles and responsibilities. Some times the line manager will arrange for the new employee to shadow an experienced colleague who will show them the ropes. Unfortunately unless this person is chosen with great care they may share with the new started some of their bad habits, short cuts and unofficial but according to their guide widely practiced ways of making the job easier.


The unofficial culture can be very strong and very destructive. In the police it is referred to as the canteen culture, a shared set of values and prejudices which include sticking together against authority, not reporting against colleagues where inappropriate group loyalty is put above professional and organisational values. Abuse scandals in residential care Homes nearly always identify a strong unofficial employee cultures in which the institution is run for the convenience of staff not the needs of residents and abuse goes unreported due to peer pressure and misguided loyalty. 

On Boarding is more than induction, it’s about the process of getting new employees familiar with and on board with the aims and values of the organisation. On Boarding involves challenging a workplace unofficial culture and as such On Boarding is an on going process not a one off on  the employees first day/week. On Boarding should dovetail with an organisation’s management development programme (with the emphasis on people management skills ) and Equality and Diversity training with the aim of promoting a culture of fairness, freedom from harassment and prejudice. All of which has a greater chance of success if the recruitment process priorities candidates in tune with the valves of the organisation. 


Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 





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