Amsterdam UMC: 'Appical Helps Us Handle Onboarding At Scale'

In 2018, AMC & VUmc merged into a new hospital, Amsterdam UMC. A new name and with 2 sites in Amsterdam. HR-specialist Giselle Straathof tells more about their unique onboarding experience for new hires, and how the onboarding platform helps this organization to welcome around 150 new employees per month.

Amsterdam UMC
Company Size

What was your challenge with respect to onboarding?

“One of the goals of our merged organization is to work based on our strength as one Amsterdam UMC and build on a strong joint identity”, Giselle explains. “At Amsterdam UMC we still work at two sites. We therefore faced the challenge of welcoming new employees to Amsterdam UMC and making them Amsterdam UMC employees. We wanted to start telling the Amsterdam UMC story at an early stage. We now do this in our preboarding phase, which starts a couple of weeks before the first working day of the employee.”

“In addition, the focus of the introductory day used to be on preparing new employees by giving them lots of information. We wanted to spread the transfer of information and focus the introductory day on providing a warm welcome and introducing people to each other and the organization. The challenge is to make the entire onboarding program interesting for every employee, from nurse to study coordinator, from researcher to secretary."

How did you go about developing the onboarding app?

“At the VUmc site, we had been using the onboarding app during the introductory day for some time. After deciding what information should go where in the app during the Appical design sessions with a diverse group of colleagues, we started creating new content. That was an intensive process, but within one and a half months we had designed the preboarding, developed two brand new Experiences (tours) and filled the other parts of the app. In January 2020, we launched the renewed onboarding experience on both Amsterdam UMC sites!”

What do new employees think of the app?

In the onboarding app, we ask new employees how they experienced the introduction. Based on the feedback, we implement actions which improve the quality of the onboarding program. People enjoy exploring Amsterdam UMC via the app (rating: 8.5) and feel that it provides good practical information to prepare them for their first day at work (rating: 7.7).

We really appreciate new employees taking the time to share their experience with us. Here are some of the responses we received:

“I was pleasantly surprised by this online introduction. It really shows where Amsterdam UMC comes from and what it stands for. A helicopter view which will help me in my new job.”

“I thought it was great fun and extremely informative. I immediately felt welcome.”

“I felt it was a really nice way to get to know the AMC. Compliments for the introduction.”

Welcome message for new hires at Amsterdam UMC

How will you use the onboarding app in the future?

In the future, we plan to develop the onboarding app further for specific groups. The information is often written in a way that makes it interesting and relevant for all employees. We want to add more details for each group of employees, so that the information better reflects their needs.

Several international employees also start here every month. We therefore offer the app in two languages. Recently, we updated the app and added a lot of new information. An action for the short term is to translate these updates so that the information is also accessible to our international employees.

What other steps have you taken after the launch?

In mid-March 2020, several months after the launch of the Amsterdam UMC app, the regular introductory meetings on site were stopped. The app enabled us to provide a good digital program.

At the same time, we sought an alternative for the regular introductory sessions. That resulted in an online variant, a digital session, via a live event in Microsoft Teams. New employees also receive a welcome document with practical information. In addition, we recently started an ongoing Onboarding Survey. By means of the Onboarding Survey, we want to help our future colleagues find their way in our big organization. Six weeks after new colleagues start working, they receive a short survey.

This enables us to chart the experiences of new employees, including their experience with the onboarding app. In this way, we can carry out concrete actions which improve the onboarding program.

Onboarding App facts

Total number of employees


Number of new hires per year


Onboarding is rated with a


Time from start to launch

8 weeks

Giselle Straathof
“Our new hires are often pleasantly surprised by the pre- & onboarding experience we offer via the Appical platform. The platform provides us the opportunity to handle onboarding at scale since we welcome around 150 new employees per month.”
Giselle Straathof
HR-specialist at Amsterdam UMC

What employees say about Appical

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Image of the onboarding app: The VUmc Experience

Welcome to the club!

Based on your site you will see a welcome screen from either VUmc or AMC. The platform takes you on a tour through the organization.
Image of a quiz chapter in the onboarding app of Amsterdam UMC

Interactive elements

Various interactive elements make the onboarding experience interesting. Throughout the journey various questions, videos and quizzes are embedded to engage new employees. 
Image of a fact about hygiene in the onboarding app of Amsterdam UMC

Did you know?

Amsterdam UMC also included a variety of facts that maybe not everybody is aware about. Like the amount of hand sanitizer that is used per year.
Image of a quiz question in the onboarding app of Amsterdam UMC

The tour

New employees are taken on tour throughout the organization (which is now done virtually), where they have to find the answers to a variety of questions to get to know the organization better.
Image of the onboarding app of Amsterdam UMC with the text 'your journey is 74% complete'

Complete the onboarding experience!

To ensure that information is structured and accessible in a spread-out manner, the onboarding experience consists of different chapters. The home screen shows how far you are in the onboarding process and which chapters are still left to complete.