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If an employee leaves a company, a replacement must be found quickly. HR then has its hands full filling the position with the most qualified candidate. This is often followed by a lengthy process until the most suitable candidate is found.  When the time has finally come, the subsequent orientation phase and onboarding period in many cases decide whether the “new” candidate will stay with the company.

Although onboarding has become a high priority when filling a position, 50% of companies still have difficulties [1]. As a result, 30% of new employees leave during their probationary period [1].

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the initial orientation process to support and accompany new employees [2]. From the very first day of signing the contract, the employees are to be taken by the hand and introduced to their new tasks, their colleagues and the company [3]. Due to the mediation of targeted, job-related and social aspects [4], the onboarding process is often used under the synonym organisational socialisation [5,6].

In addition to communicating performance expectations and bringing social norms closer together, network and career development are promoted in order to contribute effectively to goal development [6]. A final adjustment on the part of the employees takes place when they identify with the goals and values of the company [7,8].

Where is onboarding to integrate?

Onboarding can be categorized thematically between Recruiting and Performance Management: Employer Branding – Recruiting – Onboarding – Performance Management [1]. Immediately after signing the contract, the pre-boarding phase begins, in which relevant information (company, tips about the location, departments with respective contact persons, benefits, further training measures, etc.) [3] or a personal welcome from the CEO helps employees to feel valued and in good hands [6].

Why onboarding?

There is no second chance for a first impression: a study by the Haufe Academy found that 15% of newly hired employees are already thinking about resigning on their first day at work [3]. It is therefore advisable to provide the new employees with the best possible support right from the start. Both in times of a shortage of skilled workers and in order to maintain competitiveness, employees must be given the feeling they have decided on the right job.

The fresh air they bring with them, their knowledge and skills, combined with optimal integration and identification with the company’s values, help the company to enjoy a considerable competitive advantage [4]. Nevertheless, social and collegial networking leads to higher job satisfaction and productivity as well as a lower termination rate in the long run [9].

How does successful onboarding work?

Successful onboarding enables social integration and high productivity [3] and increases the likelihood employees will remain with the company for years to come [10]. It is therefore advisable to implement an onboarding process in the corporate structure.

Successful onboarding in five phases

Use these questions as a guide for successful implementation [3]:

  1. Where are the most painful points in onboarding?
  2. What does the company want to achieve with onboarding?
  3. How can an onboarding journey be set up?
  4. What are the steps that need to be taken?
  5. How can the onboarding process be implemented?

Savings through onboarding

Companies benefit from onboarding not only from increased employee retention and productivity but also from a monetary advantage in the form of a reduction in training costs for new employees and recruitment [3]. A study shows that after successful onboarding, employee retention rose from 30% to 91% in the first year and the achievement of corporate goals from 17% to 62% [4].

What can you do as an executive?

As an executive, you can focus on building social relationships, as these have a proven direct and positive impact on job-driven outcomes such as work performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and turnover intentions [11]. Through collegial integration and social support in the form of mentoring or HR support [12,13], your employees are more willing to get involved and learn more about the job itself, the company and their colleagues [4].

Build in elements in a playful way to convey content (gamification). For example, learning a list of abbreviations can be structured like a quiz [3]. Integrate onboarding into the entire hiring process [2] and extend it to several months with the help of automated processes (intranet, web-based tools, etc.) [2].

Best practices

Provide your employees with useful information throughout the entire process. But don’t overtax them [14]! Communicate honestly and realistically when it comes to activities and expectations [14]. Automated, internal workflows [14] and digital onboarding solutions simplify this process by providing easy-to-understand and timed information that can be tailored to each employee’s profile [3].

CompanyMood to accompany the employees on their way

Accompany your employees on their way with CompanyMood. With our mood pulse you always stay up to date and our survey system provides you with the results from onboarding to exit interviews.

Try CompanyMood free for 30 days. The CompanyMood team will be happy to support you.


[1] Pohl, F., & Lemke, V. (2019). Strukturiertes Mitarbeiter-Onboarding: unersetzliche Hilfe oder Elfenbeinturm-Konzept? Retrieved via

[2] Dai, G., & De Meuse, K. P. (2007). A review of onboarding literature. Retrieved via

[3] Haufe Service Center GmbH (2019). Digitale Onboarding-Lösung. Retrieved via

[4] Bauer, T. N. (2015). Onboarding: The power of connection. www. Retrieved via DOI:10.13140/RG.2.1.4980.6163

[5] Bauer, T. N., & Erdogan, B. (2010). Organizational socialization: The effective onboarding of new employees. In S. Zedeck, H. Aguinis, W. Cascio, M. Gelfand, K. Leung, S. Parker, & J. Zhou (Hrsg.). APA Handbook of I/O Psychology, pp. 51-64. Washington, DC: APA Press.

[6] Stein, M., & Christiansen, L. (2010). Successful onboarding: A strategy to unlock hidden value within your organization. Retrieved via

[7] Cable, D. M., & Parsons, C. K. (2001). Socialization tactics and person-organization fit. Personell Psychology, 54, 1-23.

[8] Pellet, L. 2009. The cultural fit factor: Creating an employment brand that attracts, retains, and repels the right employees. Virginia: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

[9] Bauer, T. N. (2011). Onboarding new employees: Maximizing success. SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series

[10] Wynhurst Group (2007). Onboarding. Presentation at the Annual SHRM Conference, Chicago, IL.

[11] Bauer, T. N., Bodner, T., Erdogan, B., Truxillo, D. M., & Tucker, J. S. (2007). Newcomer adjustment during organizational socialization: A meta-analytic review of antecedents, outcomes, and methods. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 707-721.

[12] Ostroff, C., & Kozlowski, S. W. (1993). The role of mentoring in the information gathering processes of newcomers during early organizational socialization. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 42, 170-183

[13] Shepherd, W. (2012). Designing for onboarding success at Huntington National Bank. Pre-conference Workshop, The Conference Board’s Onboarding Conference, NY.

[14] Sims, D. (2011). Creative onboarding programs: Tools for energizing your orientation program. New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Stephanie Wörz

Als Fachkraft für betriebliches Gesundheitsmanagement und als Master-Psychologin mit dem Schwerpunkt der Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie bin ich im Bereich Business Development tätig. Ich stehe meinen Kollegen bei der Entwicklung von CompanyMood mit psychologischem Fachwissen zur Seite.

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