Posted by: Knightbird | December 21, 2010

Successful Onboarding

I read an amazing statistic recently—approximately 25% of all employees added to the United States workforce during this last recovery are temporary employees. (NY Times) And although the article mentions that at least one employee turned down full time employment to remain a temp, I don’t believe that is the normal desire of employees. They want to become part of a successful organization with a compelling mission. Chugachmiut has been fortunate to add new employees to pursue our mission, and we realize that they need to be welcomed and become a part of who we are. We spend a lot of time and effort identifying them through the recruitment process, and its our job to teach them how to work in a lean workplace. Some of our new recruits are onboarded so successfully that they volunteer to join our group of Lean Champions.

Our Onboarding process starts in our job descriptions and interviews. Our employee values statement and the knowledge that we are a lean managed workplace are prominently proclaimed throughout our recruitment. In fact, many of our applicants are attracted by this fact. During our interviews, we feature both facts. During our orientation, if I am in town, I visit the new employees and talk to them about the Chugachmiut Culture.

What I am finding as I walk around after our new employee’s join us is that they really want to do a good job. And they are extremely surprised to find their chief executive visiting them to ask how they are doing. I take every opportunity to share our culture of No Blame, No Shame; Fact Based, Non Judgmental; Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. And of course, customers, patients, clients and beneficiaries remain our focus, at all times. Selling the culture is one job the executive team needs to focus on at all times, in all venues and with all employees. I find that story telling is a great way to sell the culture.

Our Employee Core Competency Training Matrix also helps us onboard new employees by letting them know the standard work for common tasks like using the telephone, copier, fax machines and other routine tasks such as Payroll Timecards, Travel Requests, Trip Reports and other documentation requirements. Employee’s see the results of our Lean Transformation first hand.

When we hire a new employee, we hope they are here for a long time. A successful workplace culture makes them feel welcome, productive and a part of a greater mission. It’s worth spending a fair amount of time Onboarding new employees.


  1. As a former HR guy and now a lean guy, I really like this approach. I’m curious. Since Chugachmiut has begun its lean transformation and this onboarding process has been used, has there been a significant improvement in retention of these new employees?

  2. We currently have great retention among our core staff. And when we have a vacancy, it is not proving difficult to hire a great person. As a non-profit, we do have the ebb and flow of grant programs that start and end. We also hire a new fire crew annually (many of the same employees thought). What’s more amazing to me are the number of employees who express their happiness and gratitude about working here and actually say that they don’t want to leave. Plus, we do have former employees who have left and want to return.

  3. Great to hear it!

  4. Would love to do a “gemba” on that kind of work environment. I don’t think that is possible for me though.

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