City Government of General Santos

Best Practice Focus Area/s

Human Resource

Year Implemented

2016 up to present

This is a GBPR 2021 Recognized Best Practice


Individual Comprehensive Onboarding Program for Employees or i-COPE is a comprehensive onboarding program for the new entrants of the City Government of General Santos (LGU-Gensan) initiated and implemented by the Human Resource Management and Development Office (HRMDO) from 2016 up to the present. It inscribes the paradigm of a “survival toolkit” to holistically transform new employees into proactive, motivated, responsible, and job-ready employees keeping abreast with the demands and standards of the new working environment to cope with all challenges of joining the new workforce. This program is a sustainable, innovative, and practical application of Bauer and Erdogan’s Onboarding Model (2011), inscribing three key components: acculturation, learning and development, and career advancement. These components ultimately improve the services of the city government.

Background and Problem

As projected in the 2015 five-Year HR Plan, LGU-Gensan welcomes several new employees into its workforce, which necessitates the need to ensure that these new entrants are appropriately onboarded in the assumption of office, overcoming the risks of employee turnover with an average of 3.36% in CY 2012-2016. As a proactive response, HRMDO designed i-COPE to guarantee that the city government makes the best and the most out of the resources it sheds for its employees’ personnel services, learning and development, performance management, and career advancement.

New entrants are considered outsiders to the organization. They lack enough knowledge and inclination on organizational objectives, culture and practices, systems and processes, rules, and even the minute details of performing their new function. To help make these employees the long-term assets and not liabilities of the organization, they are enrolled in the individual comprehensive onboarding program for the first year of their service.

Aligning with the standards of the PRIME-HRM, with LGU-Gensan acquiring Level 2 Bronze status in 2018, HRMDO developed and implemented i-COPE or Individual Comprehensive Onboarding Program for Employees as a well-orchestrated mechanism of integrating these new entrants to the culture, systems and processes, and nature of government service addressing the four pillars of PRIME-HRM: recruitment and selection; learning and development; performance management; and rewards and recognitions. Onboarding is a standard HR practice among organizations with a shared objective of acquainting new entrants with the culture, practices, rules, and roles of new employees upon assumption of duty. From the date of assumption until their full integration into public service, new entrants are urged to participate in activities under i-COPE to capacitate them in becoming effective and efficient public servants.

Solution and Impact

Guided by such anchors of HR innovations, the HRMDO has launched a structured onboarding program for every employee as a welcoming gesture in their assumption to office in any of the offices and departments of the city government. i-COPE consists of various activities to complete and complement the working experiences of the new employees in the organization. These activities are tailored under the three main components in the “Survival Toolkit” paradigm: acculturation, learning and development, and career advancement.

With the implementation of the Onboarding Program, the employee turnover rate has decreased from an average of 3.36% in CY 2012-2016 to just 1.17% in CY 2017-2021. Moreover, the annual average performance rating for new entrants exceeded the expected Satisfactory rating required from them and is increasing annually (Figure 2). This means that new entrants meet the demands and expectations as they enter the organization under the i-COPE. This has ultimately benefited the city government by ensuring that government resources are allocated to necessary programs, plans, and activities, maximizing human resources.


The sustained implementation of i-COPE since 2016 has paved the way to strong foundations and pillars of HR excellence, as attested by the following accomplishments, milestones, awards, and recognitions of LGU-GSC and HRMDO. The office has been taking pride in sharing this best practice among its programs and innovations in various opportunities, such as when it entered and won awards and recognitions in the field of people management and HR excellence. The program has been instrumental for LGU-Gensan in achieving Level II accreditation status in CSC PRIME-HRM in 2018. This was also a featured program and innovation of HRMDO when it won the award for LGU-Gensan as Employer of the Year and People Manager of the Year by PMAP in 2018. The Hi-PERA (High Personal Effectiveness through Resource Allocation), among the five in-house training courses for new entrants, was also given the Government Best Practice Recognition (GBPR) award in 2020. The program has also contributed a lot to the programs, projects, and activities under the Happy HR initiatives of HRMDO, thus, winning the 2020 HR Excellence Award – Highly Commended for Best HR Strategy Overseas in London and the 2021 Gold Stevie Award for Innovation in Human Resource Management, Planning, and Practice in Government in the Asia Pacific.

This onboarding program has been integrated into the programs, projects, and activities of HRMDO, particularly addressing the four pillars of PRIME-HRM: Recruitment, Selection, and Placement (RSP); Learning and Development; Rewards and Recognition; and Performance Management System. All program activities are tailored to HRMDO’s aim to become a center of HR Excellence in pursuing PRIME-HRM Level III accreditation. The succeeding awards since the program was implemented have also become an inspiration not only for the employees of LGU-Gensan but also for other neighboring LGUs and government agencies who have been holding benchmarking activities, mostly expressing interest in exploring and adopting this innovative and comprehensive onboarding program.