Onboarding - why the first impression is decisive


The current Haufe Talent Survey among HR managers in DACH reveals that during the corona pandemic it was more difficult than ever to integrate new employees into the company. Read more exciting survey results below.

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How does the integration of employees in the company succeed? How has onboarding changed in the corona pandemic? A team from Haufe Talent 2021 investigated this question in a survey with HR managers and executives. Clearly visible: Digitalisation in Germany's HR departments is stagnating. And without onboarding concepts, it is difficult to retain new employees.

The Great Resignation. This is the keyword used by executives in the USA to discuss a phenomenon that needs to be taken seriously: a large number of employees are quitting their jobs and reorienting themselves professionally. Whether a great resignation will also affect German companies cannot be said with certainty. However, due to ongoing contact reduction, increased home office and hybrid work, German companies are also finding it difficult to retain their employees in the long term.

Preventing initial turnover

The time between signing the contract and the first day of work, the so-called preboarding phase, already plays a major role in retaining new employees. Companies should already signal to their newcomers in the first few days that they are present and that they care: By sending important information, clarifying open questions and creating an orientation plan. The workplace must be equipped with all (digital) resources.

Unfortunately, in many companies it's over before it has begun: 36 percent of respondents reported that employees quit during the preboarding phase. To be sure, 81 percent of HR leaders believed they could reduce this turnover with early onboarding. The problem is that not all companies implemented this consistently. As many as 26 percent missed the opportunity of early contact. They did not create a consistent onboarding experience.

Jürgen Spegel, Head of Human Resources, reports that at the Haufe Group there is hardly any fluctuation of new employees between signing the contract and starting work.  

Today, we start the onboarding process much earlier in order to introduce new employees to the world of the Haufe Group. One of the ways we do this is through the onboarding app. Even before they start work, they get a feeling for who we are, what we stand for, and can familiarise themselves with topics via the app.

Use of software: aspiration vs. reality

Onboarding from afar? Some companies developed creative approaches to this during the pandemic: By expanding mentoring programs and systematising them with mentoring briefings. By inviting onboarders from different departments to virtual training sessions and team meetings. And by using web seminars, media libraries, and virtual info sessions instead of physical tours.

The use of onboarding software stagnated among companies in 2021, with only 23 percent of respondents using software to improve the preboarding phase. A majority took no additional digital action during the pandemic. And yet, 68 percent of respondents saw the potential to improve and expand in their onboarding. Perhaps that's why 36 percent planned to introduce appropriate software in the coming months.

Collegial. Competent. Communicative.

The social and cultural integration of employees plays an essential role in onboarding. Build resilient relationships with colleagues, supervisors and other stakeholders. Get to know and understand the corporate culture, common goals and principles. However, the HR managers and executives surveyed confirmed that getting to know each other played a major role in only 10 percent of the companies.

Jürgen Spegel sees a great opportunity in getting to know each other well:

It is very important that applicants match to our company and vice versa. To achieve this, it is necessary to really get to know the ideas of future employees. We set up an onboarding journey, gather feedback at various touchpoints and, with the buddy concept, provide employees who are happy to help with the induction process.

Last but not least, onboarding is also a question of feedback. Some companies still underestimate how important regular and constructive feedback is in order to train and motivate new employees. 64 percent of respondents used structured feedback sessions. Motivating and engaging people also gets short shrift. Regardless of whether it's company events, training opportunities or work-life balance programs, 65 percent of companies have not established any measures to encourage their employees.

Onboarding as a competitive advantage

In the future, human resources and managers will have a lot to do. Only 16 percent of the companies surveyed were able or willing to set aside a separate budget for onboarding. The key lies in structured onboarding, supporting software and defined processes. With these easy and efficient tools, companies can create social integration, cultural fit, a constructive feedback culture and long-term retention. Jürgen Spegel:

We want to strengthen the bond with the future team at Haufe Group for new employees by integrating new features into the onboarding app and, for example, providing regular information on team events, team videos and other content.

The competition for employees has become tighter than before due to a shortage of skilled workers and the pandemic. Taking care of people and making sure they feel comfortable and work effectively strengthens your own competitiveness. Onboarding doesn't just mark the beginning of a professional relationship. Onboarding is an important key to the future viability of organizations. And an effective means of combating a great deal of resignation.

Information about the survey
363 HR managers and executives took part in the Haufe Talent survey in October and November 2021. 46 percent of the participants work in classic, medium-sized companies with 51 to 500 employees, 32 percent work in larger companies. Only 22 percent work in smaller companies with up to 50 employees. All sectors are represented, with health/social services/education (12 per cent), consulting (11 per cent) and manufacturing (10 per cent) being particularly strong.

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