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There is no second chance for a good onboarding! – Bring new colleagues on board with these tools

Employee Experience – Touchpoint 1: 

In our series “Employee Experience” we will highlight all critical touchpoints of the  “Employee Journey”. Today: Onboarding.  

It’s 2008, on a plane to London. On board: an aspiring intern with butterflies in her stomach. Huge anticipation, because getting the position was not easy. She’s really looking forward to giving it her all. The sky’s the limit and so on.

When she finally pushes through the narrow glass door to the offices in the City of London, huge backpack on her back – sweaty but happy – ready for more warmth, a bit of glitter and confetti….nothing happens. Instead of a warm welcome, as the previous email correspondence had led her to expect, her contact person doesn’t even get up from his chair. He is kind of in the middle of something.

She is left standing there and doesn’t know what to do with herself. There is no desk for her. The rom-com she had envisioned in her head of the intern from Berlin that turns the London PR world upside-down is showing first signs of turning into a tragedy.

Will it really turn out to be this terrible?

Today she only vaguely remembers the internship, but what she does remember is the constant feeling of driving with the brakes on. And that moment when she was standing in the London office for the first time. That one guy influenced everything that (didn’t) happen in the coming weeks.

(Spoiler: She did finally succeed, but only many years later. Today she writes blog articles for an amazing Berlin startup where she was received with a warm hearted welcome.)

There is no second chance for a first impression – what used to apply only to applicants is now also valid for companies.

And a good first impression is not the end of it (“confettiii”). What follows the confetti is just as crucial: a good, holistic onboarding.

A study on the “Candidate Journey” by meta HR and stellenanzeigen.de demonstrated that 89% of employees who were already looking for a new job within a short time of being in a company, had been subject to a bad onboarding. Conversely, a well thought-out and organized onboarding process increases the likelihood of retaining urgently needed talent in the company and – even better – making them ambassadors for the company, so that more good people can follow suit.

Holistic Onboarding: How it’s done

The onboarding process can roughly be divided into two phases: 

  1. Introduction phase 
  2. Integration phase

The introduction phase begins with the first day at the job (“confettiii”) and lasts – depending on the size of the company and the complexity of the task area – several days or weeks. This time is about “arriving” and getting familiarized with the tasks, tools and colleagues. This process is not self-explanatory and should be well planned and anchored within the organization. The basics for a good onboarding:

  • Greeting: Confettiii – or at least a sincere reception that shows: We are happy to welcome you into our team! A small welcome pack with notebook, pen, business cards or gadgets that are used in the company combines the useful with the pleasant.
  • Work station: If people work at fixed desks, one should be clearly prepared for the new colleague. In other words, all the necessary programs are installed on the computer, there is a free locker, protective clothing is available – or whatever is needed for the respective activity.
  • Tasks: Nothing is worse than not feeling needed. Even if the first days are mainly for orientation, the newly composed team should meet and discuss task distribution.

Great methods for successful onboarding in the introduction phase:

1) Onboarding Buddy

…can be anyone in the company who wants to support the new colleague in their onboarding phase. The buddy explains the most important procedures, processes and tools or organizes sessions with the right colleagues and is open to all questions. A special focus lies on cultural onboarding, i.e. what makes the company tick, how colleagues interact with each other, what works and what doesn’t. This interpersonal form of onboarding is not only great for new employees. Colleagues who have been around for a long time also have the opportunity to consciously reflect on the existing rules and, if necessary, question them.

2) Company Wiki

Is there a kind of instruction manual for companies? – Yes, there is. And with a wiki, the manual grows and develops with the organization. Employees can edit existing or add new, useful information. If a new colleague joins, the wiki provides a kind of manual, which he or she can always consult – and of course can add to himself.

3) Lunch Date

Food connects – that also applies to colleagues. Having lunch together is a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas. By the time dessert is served, the topics might move away from work and get a more personal touch.


So…the computer is up and running, the protective clothing fits, the tasks are clear and a bit of confetti is still lying around here and there – so everything is going well. Right?


If companies have an interest in new colleagues not just checking off their to-do list, but also helping to shape and set new impulses, then the onboarding process is now just getting started. To get involved, employees have to understand the culture of a company as well as the processes outside of their own area of responsibility. They need clarity about the company’s strategies and goals and access to information, continued education offers and experts. Regular feedback is also crucial in this phase.

Great methods for successful onboarding in the integration phase:

1) Job Shadowing

New employees accompany colleagues from other departments as “shadows” for a day, look over their shoulders and get valuable insights into the individual tasks and processes, but also experience the team dynamics.

2) 360 Degree Feedback

With this form of feedback, the new colleagues initially evaluate themselves. Then they receive feedback from all colleagues who want to say something about their collaboration and performance. The feedback can be submitted anonymously to the manager who is conducting the feedback interview. A positive and appreciative attitude is crucial so that feedback providers and feedback recipients benefit equally.

3) Generation Exchange

Some tasks require that new colleagues take on a leadership role, even though they haven’t been with the company for long. Conflict situations can also prove to be a special challenge for people who are not yet 100% familiar with the company environment. Networking specifically with experienced colleagues can be extremely helpful here. It is not uncommon for an experience exchange over lunch to result in a long-term connection, for example in the form of a mentoring duo in which newcomers and old-timers regularly support each other. In both directions.


Wow, so HR managers should organize all of this? No, they don’t have to! This is done by smart tools that employees can use on their own. They enter skills and learning needs into the tool and are automatically connected with suitable colleagues or referred to offers that help them to get settled and move forward in the new organization. The introduction to the tool should take place at the very beginning of the onboarding process!

What did we learn from the “London Case”? A good onboarding is an absolutely critical part of the employee experience. Companies that dedicate heart and mind to this touchpoint benefit in many ways, to name a few

  • motivated and productive employees that
  • recognize mistakes faster and are better able to deal with them,
  • contribute their own, good ideas,
  • will most likely stay in the company for a long time,
  • and recommend the company in their network. 


Read the first article of our “Employee Experience Series” here

You don’t know what you can do until you try: How pilot projects can give companies the decisive push

Work time is life time – why we do not need work–life balance

Rock & Role: Why it’s better to work in flexible roles rather than fixed positions – Part 1