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Onboarding: How to achieve a perfect induction

The initial period at a new job lays the foundation for working productively together. We show you how to receive new staff properly.

7 minutes 7 minutes
Table of Contents
Technical introductions, important people to speak to, first steps at your new workplace… onboarding is more than just saying “hi” to new colleagues. Also there is more to hiring new employees than signing the paperwork. Read on to find out how you can engender a sense of belonging and productivity from the outset.

First impressions count. A successful start to a new job determines how well an employee integrates into the team, how they find themselves within the company and how productively they end up working. In a survey by the Haufe Group , 89 percent of businesses that use systematic onboarding stated that it improves or accelerates the integration of new hires into their work.

Definition: What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of introducing new hires into a business. That definition doesn’t just mean the first day at work. Many companies take it to mean the entire period from signing the contract to the end of probation.

“Our onboarding at Konica Minolta is designed to cover the first six months and is aided by an individually designed induction plan and mentoring. And of course, Human Resources is always on hand even after that for a friendly chat and to answer any questions.”

Jennifer Jäger (HR Business Partner at Konica Minolta)

Aims of employee onboarding:

  • New hires feel well received and integrate quickly into the team.
  • Networking and quickly making new contacts – including across different departments.
  • New hires fulfil their work- and personnel-related expectations at the workplace and are neither over- nor under-burdened.
  • New employees remain as long as possible at the company and think back fondly on their first day and first impressions of the business.

What phases of the employee onboarding are there?

A well-structured employee onboarding process can be divided into three phases.
The preparation phase begins before the first day at work. Most people remember their first day for a long time afterwards, whether at school, at university or at the place they train. That’s why the first day at work should be a positive experience for new hires. It’s especially important to allay any anxieties new employees may have.

“In the past, the focus was on conveying organisational basics. Nowadays we know that many employees begin by experiencing our corporate culture and their team, and wanting to get to know our products. That’s why we’ve restructured and improved our onboarding process.”

Lena Schillig (HR Service Partner at Konica Minolta)

When they enter the company, the orientation phase begins. New employees have to find and understand their place within the corporate structure. But integrating them into the team is also important, so that they feel personally welcomed.

The final phase of employee onboarding is full integration into the business. During this phase, new hires internalise a company’s values.

This allows them to identify more closely with their own work at their new workplace which is a significant factor for employee retention.

Preparation phase – creating the right conditions

Certain tasks on the onboarding checklist need to be ticked off before the first day at work in order to reduce anxieties:

  • New hires are informed in advance about how their first day will proceed and are given information about dress code at the workplace.
  • Reception should be informed about new staff and should welcome them accordingly. They should also know which team new hires belong to, and take them there.
  • The new workplace should be ready to use, clean and friendly.
  • This includes complete, functional technical equipment. The paperwork that accounting needs to check an employee in should also be at the ready.
  • A welcome package should ideally include information about the company’s mission statement, an organisational chart and an induction plan. A small welcome gift at the workplace won’t go amiss either.

Orientation phase – personal welcome

The first few weeks at a new workplace aren’t just about the things an employee has to do, they are about introducing them to the company.

  • A tour of the company and the product world will give new hires an overview of the entire working environment.
  • New employees should receive an opportunity during the onboarding process to get to know members of management and all the departments in person.
  • Inviting employees to lunch together will help them get to know their new team. It is especially important that their immediate managers are included in this process.
  • A mentor serves as a constant point of contact and can guide new employees to anyone else they might need to speak to. This will help them get to grips with their work and their new subject area.
  • A manager acting as a coach is always much better at conveying a company’s aims and philosophy than a set of guidelines.


Practical tip:
At Konica Minolta, there is a Welcome Day at the headquarters once a month for new hires throughout Germany. This helps new employees get to know important people they may need to contact, facilities, different parts of the company and the company’s aims and philosophy. It includes information about the employee organisation, work and family compatibility and further training opportunities. A showroom offers new employees the opportunity to get to know the most important products and processes. The subsequent part of the onboarding programme entails Skype sessions on subjects such as data protection, compliance and safety at work. This makes sure every employee gets the same message. A standardised process means the same start for every employee.

Integration phase – Identifying with the company

Ideally, a trial period will end to everyone’s satisfaction. You can systematically influence that through measures of the onboarding programme.

  • To improve integration, it’s important to define aims for the development of new staff in an induction plan. That way they know what they’re working towards. What is important is that those aims are achievable in the given period, and that success is acknowledged.
  • Team-building, training and offers of an internal exchange of knowledge will make the company more attractive to any employee. HR managers can use these methods to actively increase the chances of new talent retention. So new hires stay in the company for a long time to come.
  • The HR department should be open to questions from new hires on the first day. Their feedback about the onboarding process will help to improve it constantly.

“Our advice: show appreciation! On the Welcome Day, all of our new employees get an opportunity to talk to their new colleagues in different positions and areas of the business, and to make important new contacts. From this central starting-point, they can begin their very own Konica Minolta journey.”

Lena Schillig (HR Service Partner at Konica Minolta)

Advice for a smooth beginning

Good onboarding does not have to cost a business a lot of time or money. You can standardise the process to a large extent. An induction plan helps to define all the important principles. You can also use it to define clear responsibilities for everyone involved in the onboarding process. Checklists showing all the important tasks are helpful. A schedule will ensure that the themes and sequence of onboarding activities are sensibly organised.

Don’t forget that people are all different. This includes the way they get used to new things. It may take more time for some and less for others. The onboarding process should be flexible enough to allow everybody to participate.

Onboarding software can help those responsible for human resources and other managers with the process of integrating new employees. Some software includes a calendar with a schedule and reminders for the onboarding process. Other tools are aimed at the new employees themselves, and offer things like eLearning opportunities. This allows them to increase their knowledge and participate actively in the onboarding process.

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