Onboarding at Innogy – Interview with Sebastian Hopp

Published on 24-08-2017

Innogy is about to digitalise the onboarding process making significant inroads in that respect. Although there is still room for further improvement, the energy provider is well on the way to shift focus from simply introducing new colleagues to their functional areas to including the corporate culture during onboarding.

Innogy Onboarding

I had the opportunity to talk to Sebastian Hopp, Director of Opportunities and previously Head of Recruitment and Research at Innogy about onboarding. The experienced HR manager provided us with insights on which measures the company would like to implement to professionalise the following onboarding steps:

  1. Pre-Onboarding
  2. Onboarding
  3. Post-boarding

Importance of onboarding at Innogy

Onboarding and the integration of new colleagues into the company culture plays an important role in the recruitment strategy at Innogy. Recently, Innogy launched a new project ‘Sourcing at Innogy’ which is based on three pillars, ‘attracting’ and ‘selecting’ are two of them with ‘onboarding’ being the third reflecting the importance of onboarding at Innogy.

According to Sebastian not everything can be applied across the entire business as one has to differentiate between operational areas and its “level of maturity”. Taking those into account means onboarding will vary in its intensity.

‘New-Joiner App’

Streamlining the onboarding strategy at Innogy starts with the digitalisation of the pre-onboarding process, which is defined as the time between candidates signing the contract and starting their first day at the company. A recent study conducted by Haufe Group stresses the importance of connecting to new colleagues before the first working day. 26 percent of surveyed companies are receiving notices of termination with varying drop out rates. At Innogy, Sebastian reckons it is as much as 10 percent of the new hires dropping out before starting the job. However he expects that figure to further drop after having implemented all onboarding measures.  

What are the actions to be taken?

Innogy is about to introduce the ‘New-Joiner App’. On the day of signing the offer letter, the new colleagues will receive login details to the phone application, through which he or she has access to information about their future team and internal company news. Additionally, the “new joiner” is able to upload profile pictures for the employee ID card, state their preferred working mode regarding hardware (computer, laptop, 1 or 2 screens) and sign prepared data protection regulations and non-disclosure agreements.

Providing access to internal affairs and information through the app is not the only pre-onboarding measure Innogy will implement. Occasionally, the company invites new hires to join team events or sends out birthday cards to those whose birthday is during pre-onboarding time.

All these actions help the company to create a more pleasant onboarding experience for the new joiners. It also helps to eliminate possible administrative tasks during the first week at work shifting the focus of onboarding, and certainly pre-onboarding, towards getting to know new colleagues and settling into the company culture. “That stimulates the anticipation and willingness to work.”

First week schedule

Innogy places high importance on a structured approach to the actual onboarding process, which is thoroughly pre-planned for the first week and runs ups to three months. Line managers receive an action plan in which several activities are detailed.

Some examples of activities from which Innogy managers can choose:

  • Welcome new hire and place welcome card signed by colleagues at workplace
  • ‘New-Joiner Boxes’ which include a notebook and pencils or company branded shirts
  • Branded water carafes or bottles
  • Innogy Energy Drinks

It is not the manager’s sole responsibility to welcome the new hire, colleagues will also contribute to a seamless onboarding experience for the new hire. Innogy has launched a buddy programme in which a pre-selected colleague helps with words and deeds for the upcoming three months. All with the aim of helping the “new joiner” to quickly settle into the practiced company culture.

In addition to these measures, Innogy hosts “New-Joiner Events” at which recent new hires get the opportunity to meet, chat and exchange experiences with others in a similar position. This is the point at which new hires get to explore whether or not they fit into and identify with the company culture. Companies would be wise to provide candidates with opportunities to connect to their employer brand and company culture in the orientation phase just like Innogy does. That way a good Cultural Fit can be pretty much guaranteed.

“Were you welcomed?”

To be able to measure the effectiveness of the highly digitalised onboarding process, Sebastian and his team developed two online questionnaires. The first survey targets new hires and whether or not he or she was happy with the onboarding process. The second survey is designed for managers to evaluate the process. That way Innogy ensures the continuous improvement of the process and gives the new colleague the opportunity to provide feedback.

Sebastian Hopp, many thanks for taking the time and the great insights.

Thanks to the improved onboarding process, Innogy is able to further counteract the rather high percentage of new hires dropping out in their first months with the company. This does not only help to improve team dynamics, but also has some serious financial implications or more precisely benefits. Our white paper “The true costs of a bad hire” outlines the additional costs companies face who struggle to hire and and hold onto the right people for their business.