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

Onboarding: basics for a successful process

The first few days at the company are often crucial in determining how motivated new employees are when they start their new tasks. A good induction helps new colleagues to quickly feel at ease and be able to work productively. In this article, we would therefore like to give you an overview of the topic of onboarding. 

Onboarding: definition & meaning

The term onboarding is primarily known from HR management. It is derived from the English "taking on board", which means "bringing on board" or "training" new employees.

The onboarding of new employees takes place at different levels. In addition to the professional level, good onboarding also takes into account the social level and the value-oriented level. The aim of onboarding is therefore the systematic integration of new employees into the company at all three levels. A professionally designed onboarding process makes it possible to provide new colleagues with targeted support 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 talent, companies need to ask themselves how they can set themselves apart from the competition. A structured onboarding process not only conveys a professional impression of the company, but also demonstrates the company's appreciation of its employees.
At the same time, recruiting and training new employees is a time-consuming and costly process. Here too, professional onboarding helps to reduce or even completely avoid direct and indirect costs in both the short and long term.

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 term. Once established, it offers these advantages, among others:


A structured and personalized onboarding process is first and foremost a sign of appreciation towards new colleagues. Appreciation leads to higher motivation in most people, which is usually reflected in a greater willingness to perform and therefore higher productivity.


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

Error avoidance

By communicating processes in detail and training employees in the use of internally used programs, errors due to ignorance can be avoided. Good training is therefore particularly important in the first few weeks so that new colleagues quickly become confident in using devices and applications.


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

Employer branding

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

  • the position of the person to be trained
  • the tasks of the respective position
  • the structure of 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 familiarized with), can also extend the duration of onboarding. As a result, 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 organizational tasks must be completed.

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. The aim of this phase is to prepare for the start of work. This includes procuring the necessary equipment, such as a laptop, desk and other work materials, as well as preparing all the documents that are important for the start.

Preboarding should already be well organized, as you can give new employees a professional impression of the company at this stage and show that you care about employee satisfaction.

2nd orientation phase

During the orientation phase, which begins on the first day of work and typically lasts for the first 2-3 months, employees are gradually introduced to their role and their future tasks. The aim is to get to know the company, colleagues and other departments as well as the basic processes.

3rd integration phase

If the employee finds their 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 area of responsibility, this phase can also last up to 12 months. During the integration phase, the employee takes on more and more initiative and bears more and more responsibility.

Which people are involved in onboarding?

During onboarding, several people usually accompany the new employees. The specific people involved depend primarily on the respective onboarding phase.

The preboarding phase is primarily concerned with general questions and preparing for the start of work. HR managers are therefore primarily involved here together with the head of the specialist department or team.

For professional integration during the orientation and integration phase, the specialist 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.

In order to ensure rapid social and value-oriented integration, new employees are often assigned mentors, also known as onboarding buddies. They help them to settle in 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 of the specialist area.

Onboarding concept and onboarding plan for successful implementation

In order to ensure structured onboarding that takes all aspects into account appropriately, it is advisable to develop an onboarding concept. The HR department is usually responsible for this. The team can also be expanded to include other employees from different hierarchical levels of the company in the form of an onboarding working group. There should also be a close exchange with the specialist departments with regard to technical induction.

The onboarding concept therefore includes a wide range of information, for example on

  • Known difficulties from the past
  • frequently mentioned positive experiences
  • Special features in your own company
  • special requirements in individual areas of the company
  • etc.
This information can now be used to draw up the concept. On the one hand, the concept contains general points that are essential for the successful acclimatization of all employees. In addition, specific information is also required, depending on the position and specialist area. The concept should always be geared 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 provides a precise timeline of the individual tasks that need to be completed as part of the onboarding process.

Onboarding process & digitalization

As is the case almost everywhere, digitalization has also found its way into the HR sector. A variety of software solutions support HR managers, department and team leaders with the various onboarding tasks and thus enable the automation and optimization of the onboarding process.

The coronavirus crisis made a significant contribution to the digitalization of onboarding in many companies. As new employees were only able to come into the office to a limited extent as a result of the pandemic, options were needed to enable professional and efficient remote onboarding for new employees.

  • HR platforms offer a clear onboarding plan so that no tasks are forgotten.
  • eLearning platforms enable clear and concise knowledge transfer on processes and applications.
  • Communication and collaboration tools ensure an 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 the 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 preferred equipment and Lendis takes care of everything else.