Onboarding guide - basics for a successful process
Onboarding: The basics
Table of contents

Onboarding: basics for a successful process

The first days in the company are often decisive for how motivated new employees approach their new tasks. A good onboarding process helps new colleagues to feel at home quickly and to work productively. In this article, we would like to give you an overview of onboarding. 

Onboarding: Definition & Meaning

The term onboarding is mainly known from human resource management. It derives from the English "taking on board", which translates as "bringing on board" or "familiarising" new employees.

The onboarding of new employees takes place on different levels. In addition to the professional level, good onboarding also takes into account the social level and the value-oriented level. The goal of onboarding is therefore the systematic integration of new employees into the company on all these three levels. A professionally designed onboarding process makes it possible to provide targeted support to the new colleagues at every stage of onboarding in order to optimally integrate them into the company and make them productive as quickly as possible.

Onboarding is contrasted with offboarding, which involves the professional handling of employees who leave the company.

Why is a good onboarding process so important?

In times of an increasing shortage of skilled workers and ever fiercer competition for the best talents, companies must ask themselves how they can stand out from the competition. A structured onboarding process not only gives a professional impression of the company, but also shows appreciation for the employees.
At the same time, recruiting and onboarding new employees is a time-consuming and costly process. Here, too, professional onboarding helps to reduce direct and indirect costs in both the short and long term, or even to avoid them altogether.

What are the benefits of good onboarding?

Setting up professional onboarding for new employees takes time, but pays off for every company in the long run. Once established, it offers these advantages, among others:


A structured and personalised onboarding process is first of all a sign of appreciation towards the new colleagues. Appreciation leads to higher motivation in most people, which is usually reflected in a higher willingness to perform and thus higher productivity.


The better and faster an employee is familiarised with the processes in the company, the faster he or she can work productively and add value to the company.

Error prevention

By explaining procedures in detail and training staff in the use of internally used programmes, mistakes due to ignorance can be avoided. Especially in the first few weeks, good training is therefore important so that new colleagues quickly become confident in using equipment and applications.


A positive first impression also has an impact on fluctuation in the company. If employees feel valued right from the start, this also increases their attachment to the company. In this respect, onboarding already plays an essential role in employee retention and can help reduce turnover.

Employer branding

At the same time, good onboarding also contributes to employer branding. A structured onboarding process underlines the professionalism of the company. As a result, employees become brand ambassadors and contribute to a positive external perception of the company. This in turn offers long-term advantages when hiring further employees.

Phases of onboarding

Onboarding is a long-term process. In principle, it lasts until the person in question has been fully trained. The exact period of onboarding varies greatly and depends on, among other things

  • the position of the person to be trained
  • the tasks of the respective position
  • the structure in the company.
Other factors, such as how much preparatory work has already been done on individual topics (and consequently how many existing structures need to be familiarised with), can also extend the duration of onboarding. Consequently, onboarding can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Onboarding is typically divided into 3 phases. In each of these 3 phases, various administrative and organisational tasks have to be dealt with.

The 3-phase model divides onboarding into:

1. preparation phase (preboarding)

The preparation phase begins with the signing of the contract and lasts until the first day of work. In this phase, it is important to prepare for the start of work. This includes, among other things, the procurement of the necessary equipment, such as a laptop, desk and other working materials, as well as the preparation of all documents that are important for the start.

Pre-boarding should already be well organised, after all, you can give the new employees a professional image of the company already in this phase and thus show that you care about the satisfaction of the employees.

2. orientation phase

In the orientation phase, which starts with the first day of work and typically lasts for the first 2-3 months, the employee is introduced to his or her role step by step and to future tasks. The aim is to get to know the company, the colleagues and other departments as well as the basic processes.

3rd integration phase

If the employee finds his way around the company without any problems, the integration phase begins. This phase usually lasts until the end of the probationary period. Depending on the position in the company and the complexity of the tasks, this phase can last up to 12 months. In the integration phase, the employee takes on more and more initiative and responsibility.

Which people are involved in onboarding?

During onboarding, several people usually accompany the new employees. Who these people are in particular depends on the respective onboarding phase.

In the pre-boarding phase, the main focus is on general questions and preparing the start of work. HR managers are therefore primarily involved here, together with the head of the specialist department or team.

For the professional integration during the orientation and integration phase, the colleagues with whom there are regular points of contact are added. If there is a time overlap, the predecessors in the respective position should also be integrated into the onboarding process as much as possible.

To ensure a quick social and value-oriented integration, new employees are often assigned mentors, also called onboarding buddies. They help them arrive and get to know the company and general processes better. The onboarding buddy serves as the first point of contact for all kinds of questions outside the department.

Onboarding concept and onboarding plan for successful implementation

In order to ensure structured onboarding in which all aspects are adequately considered, it is advisable to develop an onboarding concept. As a rule, the HR department is responsible for this. In the form of an onboarding working group, the team can also be expanded to include other employees from different hierarchical levels of the company. There should also be a close exchange with the specialist departments with regard to the technical onboarding.

Consequently, the onboarding concept incorporates a great deal of information, for example on

  • Known difficulties from the past
  • Frequently mentioned positive experiences
  • Special features in your own company
  • special requirements in individual business areas
  • etc.
On the basis of this information, the concept can now be drawn up. On the one hand, the concept contains general points that are essential for a successful acclimatisation of all employees. On the other hand, it also requires specific information depending on the position and department. The concept should always be oriented towards the respective phase of onboarding and the individual focal points should build on each other.

Based on the concept created, an onboarding plan can then be developed. The onboarding plan is much more detailed than the concept and presents a precise timeline of the individual tasks to be completed as part of the onboarding process.

Onboarding process & the digitalisation

Like almost everywhere else, digitalisation has also found its way into the HR sector. A variety of software solutions support HR managers, department and team leaders in the different onboarding tasks and thus enable the automation and optimisation of the onboarding process.

The Corona crisis contributed significantly to the digitalisation of onboarding in many companies. Since the pandemic also limited the number of new employees who could enter the office, there was a need to provide new employees with professional and efficient remote onboarding.

  • HR platforms offer a clear onboarding plan so that no tasks are forgotten.
  • eLearning platforms enable a clear and knowledge transfer on processes and applications.
  • Communication and collaboration tools ensure efficient exchange, even if you are not in the same office.
Save a lot of time and money during onboarding with the Lendis OS

With Lendis OS, you can equip new employees with technology and furniture in the office and home office with just a few clicks. Your new colleagues simply choose their desired equipment and Lendis takes care of everything else.