Waterschap Hollandse Delta: 'Our onboarding app helps in retaining talent'
Within Waterschap Hollandse Delta (WSHD), there was a high demand for new employees. However, especially in the preboarding phase - between the employment conditions conversation and the first day of work - there was a lot of room for improvement. That's why WSHD opted for an onboarding app. "We were the first water authority to work with Appical, and due to our enthusiasm, many other water authorities have joined!"
Complete silence after the employment conditions conversation
Waterschap Hollandse Delta (WSHD) ensures safe dikes and sufficient (clean) water. With 758 kilometers of dikes and dunes, they protect almost a million residents and businesses, from Rotterdam South to Dordrecht and the South Holland islands, against high water. That's not all: they maintain roads and bike paths, clean sewage water, and in times of drought, they ensure sufficient water.
A few years ago, the demand for new employees increased. "We had difficulty filling and retaining all kinds of positions," says Kees Stoutjesdijk, Sr HRM Advisor. "New employees also gave us the signal that we were not doing the introduction well. Especially when it comes to the period between the employment conditions conversation and the first day of work."
"We neglected the preboarding phase, resulting in complete silence between the employment conditions conversation and the first day of work."
"We neglected the preboarding phase, resulting in complete silence between the employment conditions conversation and the first day of work. In addition, there were significant differences in onboarding between departments. One employee had a good induction process for the first week, while the other only had something on the first day. Due to the poor introduction, people had a fairly quick tendency to leave if things didn't go well afterwards."
"While some employees had a comprehensive induction process for the first week, others only had a brief introduction on the first day. Due to the poor introduction process, employees were more likely to leave if things did not go well afterwards."
Within 4 months, the onboarding app was launched
The goal was clear: to stay in touch with new employees after the employment conditions conversation and establish a connection with the organization. But how? "I came across Appical. After a number of internal discussions, in which I explained exactly what the onboarding app was for, we looked at all the possibilities and the action plan. I realized that if I really wanted to set it up properly, it was too much for me alone."
"That's why I gave an HRM student a internship assignment to set up the onboarding app. He immediately got to know the organization, and the great advantage for us was that the app was more in line with the young target group. Within 4 months, the app was completely launched. And the student? He is still enthusiastic about his assignment!"
A combination of on-site onboarding and digital activities
Once the employment contract is signed, new WSHD employees receive an email with a link to the onboarding app. The preboarding and onboarding of new employees takes place in the Appical app. "The HR Service Desk sends the invitations as part of the recruitment process. This ensures that every new employee receives the link to the app well in advance. The onboarding starts from the first day of work via the employee's own account in our ICT environment."
"The digital onboarding part is part of a broader induction program. We add a package of e-learning and links to things that employees can find on our intranet. But also an induction program that includes checklists: from the team leader's welcome call to the flower on the desk."
[.callout-blue] New WSHD employees go on a water safari which showcases various objects like pumping stations, roads, dikes, and purifications. Colleagues explain how these objects work, providing a good understanding of WSHD's work in one day. Knowing about these objects is essential for all roles, whether you are a field worker or finance department staff.[.callout-blue]
What do new employees think?
"In the preboarding phase, we always ask new employees what they think of their onboarding. We've been scoring an average of 8.4 for several years now. Through exit interviews, we also get a better idea of the reasons for leaving. It could be dissatisfaction, a better salary elsewhere, or new opportunities for development outside of WSHD. But the introduction and not feeling at home at WSHD are no longer mentioned as reasons for leaving. That goal has been achieved!"
"Onboarding is also a part of labor market communication: it allows us to showcase what we do and how we do it. We strive to provide a personalized onboarding experience, even if it's done remotely. Onboarding helps to engage and retain our employees, which is essential for us."
My favorite feature?
"The combination: that you can alternate text, photos, and videos in a fun way. Just like the quiz questions that allow you to check if people have understood the material. And the reporting tool. With that, I can see how many people have used the app. If someone hasn't opened the app, they may not have seen the link or may have encountered problems. We then send a message asking if we can help. That little extra attention often works well."
Development of the onboarding app
The development of WSHD's onboarding app is an ongoing process. "To ensure that the app remains up-to-date, I reserve a block of time every two weeks to review its content. With so many changes happening within the organization, it's important to stay alert and make adjustments to the app as needed."
"What more we want to achieve? Customization for the different roles within WSHD. The app is now mainly focused on office workers. But we also have many employees who work in the countryside. Managing and maintaining the outdoors is really different from the work of an office worker. These employees need a different type of onboarding."
Did you know that...
- There were thousands of small water boards centuries ago, but now there are only 21?
- WSHD does not have a drinking water task, as many residents may think?
- WSHD does have a road task, which many residents may not know?
- WSHD was the first water authority to start using Appical for onboarding?