AKD: 'We focus even more on what new employees need'
AKD, a law firm that provides notarial and tax advisory services, recognized early on the importance of onboarding new employees. Since 2018, they have been using the Appical app to share practical information with new hires. However, last year, AKD decided to elevate its entire onboarding program and better integrate the app into the renewed program. They are already seeing the benefits of this decision.
The ultimate challenge? Giving all new employees in 3 countries a warm welcome
AKD is one of the largest law firms in the Netherlands, providing notarial and tax advisory services, with a strong presence in the Benelux. AKD has offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, employing over 500 professionals. On average, 15 new employees are hired every month, which amounts to 180 new hires per year.
The challenge at AKD was mainly focused on relieving the burden on managers and colleagues and making it truly enjoyable to start at AKD as a new employee. Initially, the onboarding app was primarily used for practical purposes, with a focus on the various support departments within AKD. Now, the focus is much more on what new employees need when they start: how can they feel at home as soon as possible?
The first results of the new onboarding program
As a result of this approach, we've seen some fantastic outcomes. The number of practical questions from new employees has significantly decreased, and sharing information through the app has helped to ease nerves on the first day(s). New hires now have a clear understanding of what to expect during their first three months, and the introduction day is seen as a fun, informative, and useful start at AKD.
How did AKD set up the onboarding process?
Ronald Ermes, Business Adviser at AKD and project manager of the new onboarding program embraced this project with enthusiasm. It's great to see how much attention to detail, enthusiasm, and drive have been put into this. "Of course, we started by assembling the most diverse project team possible. Who can add value to the project from their respective roles?" Ronald explains.
"Then we mapped out the existing onboarding process," Ronald continues. "We conducted office-wide interviews and spoke to between 20 and 30 people, including partners, managers, and a large group of new hires. We asked everyone the same questions and started the creative process from there."
"Gradually, it became clearer how the onboarding program would be implemented from the moment of signing until the first 90 days," Ronald says. "And so the ball started rolling. At the same time, the project team continuously checked with a group of colleagues to ensure everything was moving in the right direction."
Brand new position: Onboarding Officer
During the project, the team realized that a good onboarding program relies on someone who is responsible for the entire onboarding process. As a result, Ingmar Kamman has transitioned from his role as HR Officer to a brand new position as Onboarding Officer at AKD. He is responsible for part of the preboarding process and the entire onboarding program.
"In the first three months, I manage various aspects of the onboarding process. I ensure that new colleagues are well-informed before their first day of work. This includes managing their expectations, as well as informing managers and direct colleagues. Additionally, I make sure that all practical matters, such as providing laptops, access passes, and system access, are arranged with the departments responsible for these matters."
Tips for setting up your onboarding program
Ronald suggests taking a closer look at new colleagues who have recently joined the team. "What are they missing? Based on that information, you can make choices about how you want to set up your new onboarding program."
It's also important to gather input not just from new hires, but also from managers and coworkers. Ronald also advises to seek inspiration from other companies and sectors. "Look around you, what’s already out there? But also dare to adjust your opinion. Continuously improve the process."
"The Onboard Amsterdam event was very inspiring for me. There I came across an interesting idea - the bingo card! It’s a helpful tool for new colleagues to get to know our organization faster.”
What do the onboarding activities at AKD look like now
Online activities at AKD
Because AKD had already been using the Appical app for some time, they also looked critically at it. Much of the information was no longer up-to-date. 'So we basically said: we're going to wipe it clean and build on the existing app.' And so it was done.
With the help of one of Appical's consultants, the app was re-evaluated and filled with information. Ronald: “The new changes were met with positive feedback right away.”
"We take full advantage of the various possibilities that the Appical app offers us, such as the use of photos, videos, and gamification. We use the app to its full potential. The idea of Appical is already fantastic. But to then also utilize it like this; I think we're pretty advanced in that regard."
Ingmar adds, “We manage the expectations of new employees through the app. What can you expect on your first day, the first weeks, and which trainings you should complete. In addition, the app also contains information about how our office is organized with its various support departments and practice groups.”
The offline activities at AKD
"An important moment in our onboarding process is the introduction day, where we give new colleagues a warm welcome and provide them with a good understanding of AKD. Our introduction day takes place every month at our office in Rotterdam (44 floors high!). This day is held for all new employees, regardless of their position or location where they will be working."
"Even before the introduction day takes place, new employees receive a chocolate bar in their mailbox. There is a 'digital touch' to it, as there is a QR code on the packaging with a welcome video from our board members.”
"We start the introduction day with a talk show featuring various guests and end with a dinner. In between, there are fun and useful activities and various presentations. In addition, we offer everyone the opportunity to stay overnight in Rotterdam.
"Other offline activities include training and, for example, the bingo card with which we encourage new employees to get to know colleagues and the office more quickly. Think of a drink, a walk with colleagues, or meeting the board", says Ingmar."
An important final component: evaluation conversations
Ingmar speaks to every employee after the first 3 months. Every new employee gets an evaluation conversation, including interns. And that provides valuable feedback.
"The most important thing for me is how someone is doing, that is the basis in my opinion. Are you having fun, are you really engaged in your work or are there still big question marks somewhere? How is the contact with your manager?"
"In addition, I focus on the processes: How did you experience the time between signing your contract and your first day? How did you like the introduction day? And the period afterwards? This input helps us to continuously improve the onboarding program."
What employees say about Appical
“We take full advantage of the various possibilities that the Appical app offers us, such as the use of photos, videos, and gamification. We use the app to its full potential. The idea of Appical is already fantastic. But to then also utilize it like this; I think we're pretty advanced in that regard.”
"The app allows us to include photos, videos, and text, and we can ask questions to our new colleagues. These different elements make the experience varied and enjoyable to go through each chapter."