AFM: 'We keep our newcomers engaged with the onboarding app'

De Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM) faced a challenge in building a stronger connection with new employees after the contract is signed, without overwhelming them with information. Their solution? An innovative onboarding app that received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from both new and existing team members.

2 colleagues looking at a computer screen
Company Size
Financial services

Overwhelmed with information on the first day

The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets is the financial services regulatory authority for the Netherlands. This means that AFM supervises the conduct of the entire financial market sector: savings, investment, insurance, loans, pensions, capital markets, asset management, accountancy and financial reporting. A total of just under 700 employees work here and 60 to 80 new colleagues are hired each year.

Linda Brandenburg, a corporate recruiter at AFM, noticed that new employees sometimes  become disconnected after joining the company. She explained, "New colleagues are often busy wrapping up their current work. You want to keep that line of communication going, without emailing or calling every time yourself."

However, AFM encountered another challenge. During the introduction day, multiple departments within the company were eager to share their stories, overwhelming the new employees with information. As a recruitment team, we recognized that this was not an ideal welcome for new employees.

From a brief introduction to an entire preboarding process

Initially, the app at AFM served only as a tool for new employees to take a quick quiz and receive a tour of the facility on their first day. However, Linda realized that it wasn't providing enough value and began discussing ways to enhance it. The conversation gained momentum when the pandemic hit, and colleagues were unable to come into the office, making the AFM app even more beneficial.

As the app evolved, it transformed into a comprehensive preboarding solution. "Our team collaborated with a consultant from Appical, as well as welcomed input from users and recently hired employees during interviews."

AFM needed to find a middle ground between creating a friendly, lively app with GIFs, while also preserving the company's professional image. This process took a bit longer, but the outcome was worth it!

A closer look at the AFM onboarding app

Let's take a closer look at the onboarding app, shall we? Specifically, it provides a clear explanation of what AFM is and what it does, as well as which areas it monitors. Moreover, the app brings to light the importance of well-being and vitality, which is a key focus within AFM. "The app shows employees to develop and evolve and therefore also focuses on personal growth."

New hires are provided with helpful information a week prior to their start date. "This includes details on lunch arrangements, dress code expectations, and tips for their first day. We understand that some may feel hesitant to ask certain questions, such as when salary is paid, but would really like to know the answer."

"I already expected the tool to be user-friendly to work with," Linda adds. "And I expected it to be an interactive tool: an app that goes beyond static information, and offers options beyond text and images. Fortunately, my expectations were met."

Time-based unlocking: Release information in phases

According to Linda, one of the great benefits of the onboarding app is that information is released in phases rather than being overwhelming. The app features different modules, and information is released at different times throughout the period.

"By utilizing time-based unlocking, you have the ability to determine when specific content becomes available to your new colleague - whether it be a month prior to their start date or just the day before. Occasionally, there may be a gap of up to two months between the signing date and the first day of work. By implementing this feature, we ensure that new colleagues remain engaged and we can check if they are still excited about their upcoming journey with us."

Both internally and from new employees, we have received incredible positive feedback:

"The preboarding app provides a glimpse of what it's like to work at AFM beforehand. The app walks you through the organization's aspirations and fundamental values. Super convenient!" - Rob

Specific roles within AFM's preboarding process

  • From recruitment we send a general mail with practical information. In it, new employees find fun information with links they can click on. And they find out how to prepare for the introduction day ('what question would you like to ask our board member?')."
  • The manager also contacts the candidate even before the first day of work. This is by phone or email. Just to check in but also to arrange some practical things, such as getting the laptop and cell phone ready."

Fun facts about AFM:

  • AFM is proud of their World-class Workplace! seal, which indicates that employees enjoy working at the AFM above average
  • Many people believe that the AFM has a strict and bureaucratic culture, but that couldn't be further from the truth! In reality, the culture at AFM is characterized as open with short lines of communication, "hierarchy on paper, but not on the shop floor."
  • AFM has a nearly equal male/female ratio with an average employee age of 42
  • AFM prioritizes vitality and a healthy work-life balance for their employees.

Linda Brandenburg
"Sometimes, there is a gap of up to two months between the signing date and the first day of work. With the app, we ensure that new colleagues remain engaged and we can check if they are still excited."
Linda Brandenburg
Corporate Recruiter at AFM

What employees say about Appical

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Chapter in the onboarding app of AFM

Welcome to AFM!

New hires are welcomed with a personal video message from the AFM chairman of the board on the home screen of their onboarding app. The next two stories provide further insights into what to expect during their first days at the AFM, who to turn to with questions, and even an opportunity to provide feedback on the application process.
Quiz chapter in the AFM onboarding app

The story of AFM

In the first 'story', employees can read up on things like the strategy, history, organizational structure and more. Then, they get to put their knowledge to the test with various quizzes: are they already familiar with AFM's mission and core values?
Chapter about the first days at AFM

Growth & Wellbeing

And let's not forget about your well-being! As a new member of the AFM team, you'll discover how the organization facilitates healthy living and working in the upcoming chapters. Plus, we'll delve into how AFM fosters talent and leadership development.
Preparation chapter for the first day in the office

A week before your start

In the second module, new employees will receive valuable information about their first day at AFM. This includes what to bring and other important details to ensure a smooth start, for example the dress code (spoiler alert: they don't have one).