Developing Onboarding Plan for the Building Management System Team
Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences Master’s Degree
Industrial Management Master’s Thesis
28 May 2019
I had been planning to get some additional education for almost three years, almost right after I finished my bachelor’s studies. Industrial Management program ticked all the def- initions for the “next step” that I was looking for. My goal was to develop as a professional and to broaden my view over the technical stuff that I had been working with for many years.
At first the program seemed excessive in terms of workload, but after a couple of months of pushing forward, it did ease up. No pain, no gain, as the saying goes. Looking back to the whole process, the program provided really good support for the whole time of the studies.
There have been multiple persons who have been involved in the process of making this study possible. Firstly, I would like to thank all the informants and key stakeholders in the case company. Without your support this would not have been possible.
Secondly, I would like to thank my instructors, by the behalf of Metropolia, Dr. Thomas Rohweder and Zinaida Grabovskaia, PhL. Your great support for the overall process of the thesis making made this possible. Also, big thanks go to the fellow students and to the good spirit among all of us who started this program.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank my family and my better half for being supportive throughout the journey to the master’s degree.
Arto Linkovesi Vantaa
May 28, 2019
Number of Pages Date
Developing Onboarding Plan for the Building Management Sys- tem Team
55 pages + 1 appendices 28 May 2019
Degree Master of Engineering
Degree Programme Industrial Management
Instructors Dr. Thomas Rohweder, Principal Lecturer Zinaida Grabovskaia, PhL, Senior Lecturer Miika Halmetoja, HR Business Partner
This thesis focuses on creating a new onboarding plan for the Building Management System- team in Schneider Electric Finland Oy. The need for the revisited onboarding plan comes from the need of hiring and onboarding new employees as quickly and effectively as possi- ble.
This study is based on searching and applying ideas from best practice and literature, results from the current state analysis, and co-creation of the new onboarding plan together with the key stakeholders in Building Management System-team training. All the steps are crucial to be able to get the best possible outcome, for the new plan.
Before developing the proposal for the new onboarding plan for BMS-team, the study ex- plores the current state of onboarding in the BMS team. The study revealed flaws in the current onboarding process. These flaws are connected to the way and the content that the new employee is taught the job specific actions and to the clarity of roles of those who should train the new employee in order to be fully effective as an employee. The aim of the new plan is to correct the flaws that were found in the current onboarding process.
This study was important to the case company of this Thesis, Schneider Electric Finland Oy, because essentially the onboarding process determines new employees’ feelings and com- petences for the new job and the company. The study tells that, essentially, if the onboarding is not done right, the company will lose money and, in the worst case, a potential employee.
Keywords Onboarding, Training, New Employees, Building Management System, Process development
Contents Preface Abstract
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Business Context 1
1.2 Business Challenge, Objective and Outcome 2
1.3 Thesis Outline 2
2 Method and Material 4
2.1 Research Approach 4
2.2 Research Design 5
2.3 Data Collection and Analysis 7
3 Best Practice and Literature on Onboarding New Employees 10
3.1 Role of Onboarding Process for Organizations 10
3.2 Regional Differences in Onboarding Process 12
3.3 Best Practice for Onboarding 14
3.4 Short-term Outcomes of Onboarding 15
3.5 Long-term Outcomes of Onboarding 16
3.6 Types of Onboarding Practices 17
3.7 Elements of the Onboarding Process 17
3.8 Development of the Onboarding Plan 20
3.9 Conceptual Framework of This Thesis 21
4 Analysis of the Existing Onboarding Practices in BMS Team, Existing Corporate
Onboarding Material, and Team Requirements 24
4.1 Overview of the Current State Analysis Stage 24
4.2 Analysis of the Company Material 24
4.2.1 Onboarding Slides 24
4.2.2 Onboarding Plan for the New Employee 25
4.3 Internet poll for the newest team member 26
4.4 Interview with the Project Teams Manager 28
4.5 Key Findings from the Current State Analysis 29
5 Developing an Onboarding Plan for New Employees Joining the BMS-team 32
5.1 Overview of the Proposal Building Stage 32
5.2 Findings of Data Collection 2 33
5.3 Proposal Draft 35
5.3.1 Content: 36
5.3.2 Job Specific Tasks 36
5.3.3 How to onboard 37
5.3.4 Bonus salary for the Buddy 38
5.3.5 Schedule 39
5.4 Summary of the Initial Proposal 39
6 Validation and Final Proposal for the Onboarding Plan for BMS Team Plan 42
6.1 Overview of the Validation Stage 42
6.2 Findings of Data Collection 3 and Developments to the Initial Proposal 43 6.3 Developments to the Proposal Based on Findings of Data Collection 3 44
6.4 Final Proposal 45
7 Conclusions 48
7.1 Executive Summary 48
7.2 Next Steps and Recommendations toward Implementation 50
7.3 Thesis Evaluation 50
7.4 Closing Words 55
Appendix 1. Online questionnaire for the newest employees in the BMS-team
Onboarding can be seen as a system of processes, which are intended to integrate new employee into an organization and making the new employee productive as quickly as possible. (Bauer 2015) These qualities - integration, productivity and quickness - make the onboarding process a crucial step in the new employee’s career path.
In Schneider Electric Finland Oy, onboarding makes an essential part of the path of a new employee in the company. The current practices, however, leave room for improve- ment. From the feedback of the company employees, it is has become known that it takes a lot of time for the new employee to get productive in the BMS-team. This de- creases revenue but also decreases the overall satisfaction with the new job. This current lack of an effective onboarding practice creates a need for revisiting the current onboard- ing process.
The new onboarding plan should have impact in the employee’s job satisfaction, and it should also have impact in the time in which new employee gets productive for the com- pany.
1.1 Business Context
The case company of this Thesis, Schneider Electric Oy, is a multinational company and it is headquartered in France. Schneider Electric manufactures products for power man- agement, including medium voltage, low voltage, secure power, and automation sys- tems. It provides integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and soft- ware. In 2019 the company had 137,000 employees and it operated in over 100 coun- tries. (Schneider Electric website. accessed April 2019)
The Thesis work was done for Schneider Electric Finland Oy. The company had over 120 million in revenue in 2017 and 480 employees. The work was specifically done for the Buildings business-unit, which is specialized in the building automation systems. The BMS-team, within the Building Business-unit, executes building automation projects.
BMS is an abbreviation of Building Management System, which means computer-based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building's mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. From now on, Building Management System should be called as BMS in this study. To execute BMS-projects the project manager should be experienced in
project management, programming of the BMS-system, managing relations with the cus- tomer and handling the financial side of the projects.
Building automation has been one of the quickest areas to grow in the field of building.
It also is one of the toughest one to work on. This combination means that if one has experience from the industry, one is most likely to get a job from almost any company.
This creates a competition of salary between different companies, which is not always the best way to acquire the best workers for the company.
1.2 Business Challenge, Objective and Outcome
The business challenge is that Building Automation Unit creates a bottleneck by the fact that there are more projects sold than Schneider Electric has personnel to execute. This is problematic also because employees are getting exhausted by the ongoing projects, which leads to problems in the overall wellbeing of the workers.
It would be easy to recruit new workers, but most of the people working in the industry are already working for some other companies. The same situation is in the other com- panies too, so they try to keep their employees at their service.
Solution for this is to recruit new workers, who are just graduated from the relevant school, or to recruit people from the other line of businesses. What makes this hard is the fact that BMS is a wide-spread area to learn. The fact that there is much to learn makes it hard for companies to train new personnel. It can take up to two years to be- come effective for the company, in means of financial performance.
The objective of the thesis is to establish a new plan for onboarding new personnel to the field of building automation, namely to BMS team. The plan should be effective, fo- cused and goal directed. The new plan should help new personnel to get onboarded more quickly and effectively.
1.3 Thesis Outline
The scope of this thesis is the onboarding process in the case company. The scope is specifically in the BMS-team, for which the onboarding process is intended for.
Design research approach has been used for this study. Information for this thesis is collected by qualitative interviews of stakeholders. Internet poll is also used to gather information. Relevant material and documents, regarding onboarding in the case com- pany, are reviewed and used in this study. Existing literature about onboarding is used to form a theoretical framework of the onboarding process and what it can give for em- ployer and the employee. Theoretical framework is used as a basis for the proposal of the onboarding plan. Proposal for the onboarding plan is validated by working group consisting Area Director, HR Business Partner and HR trainee. All the stakeholders in the working group are working for the case company.
This thesis has seven sections. Section 1 is the introduction. Section 2 presents the method and material used for this study. Section 3 is used to develop a theoretical frame- work for onboarding. Section 4 presents the current state analysis and team require- ments. Section 5 presents the proposal for the onboarding plan. In Section 6, proposal is validated by the working group and the final adjustments are made. Section 7 includes conclusions about the study.
2 Method and Material
This section shows the methods and material used to create this Thesis, discusses its research approach, research design, data collection and analysis methods.
2.1 Research Approach
According to literature, two main research strategies are qualitative and quantitative. Dif- ference between these two are that qualitative research relies primarily on the collection of qualitative data when quantitative research relies solely on the collection of quantita- tive data. Difference between these two forms of data gatherings are that they start the study from different ends. (Burke & Christensen: 2014)
According to Burke & Christensen (2014), quantitative researches focus is on hypothesis testing and theory testing. This means that the study is made “from top to down”. Quan- titative researchers consider that the primary importance is to state one’s hypotheses and then test that hypotheses with empirical data to if the hypotheses is valid. Qualitative research focuses in “from bottom to top” approach. This means that first step is to de- scribe what is seen locally and after that come up or generate new hypotheses or theo- ries. Qualitative research is usually used when there is none or little knowledge about the topic. (Burke & Christensen: 2014)
There are multiple types of research approaches which can be utilized in this kind of study. To name few of these approaches, there are case studies, design research and action research. Case studies approach investigates into a phenomenon of real life within its environmental context. Usually contextual conditions are not controlled or delineated.
Those conditions are part of the investigation. Typical for case studies is non-random sampling. This means that there is no sample that represents a larger population (Ridder, H. 2017). Design research approach specifies the sources and the type of information which is relevant to the study. Design research can be seen as a method where steps are made to transform a given situation into a preferable one (Teegavarapu el all.2008).
Lastly, there is Action research approach. Action research means that the locus of control shifts from objective professional point of view to the individuals who have usually been the subjects of research. This approach usually takes the partnership form between a
practitioner and a researcher (Nicodemus, B., & Swabey, L. 2015). Applied action re- search means that research methods or research results lead to the development of practical work (Eikeland, O. 2012:10).
In this thesis, Design research using qualitative methods was selected as a research approach for conducting research and for the data gathering. Data was gathered in the non-formal face-to-face meetings. Also, internet poll was used in the data gathering. As an anomaly, author used his own experiences also in the proposal building. This was seen as the best way of obtaining information and to be able to make the proposal in the strict timelines.
2.2 Research Design
Research design need to be established in order to make the study logically. Figure 1 shows the research design for this thesis. This research design is used to eventually establish the final proposal.
Figure 1. Research design plan for the Thesis.
As seen from Figure 1, the study is conducted as a series of steps toward reaching the objective. Firstly, best practice and the theory of onboarding are explored by looking at literature and best practice. Secondly, the current state analysis is conducted by looking into the current onboarding material and by conducting the stakeholder interviews.
Thirdly, the improved onboarding plan is established with the collaboration of the working group. Fourthly, the final onboarding plan is validated by the working group and the feed- back from the last data round is taken into notice for creating the final proposal.
Table 1 shows the data collection plan. This is used to collect data for all phases of the research.
Table 1. Data collection plan for this study.
As seen from Table 1, the data is collected for this study in three rounds. Data 1 is col- lected for establishing the current state of onboarding in BMS team. Data 2 is collected for creating the initial version of the improved onboarding plan for BMS team. Finally, Data 3 is collected in the validation session with the key stakeholders of BMS team.
before the final version of the onboarding plan is produced. All the data sections shown in Table 1 are used to create the new onboarding plan.
2.3 Data Collection and Analysis
This study draws data from a variety of data sources and several data collection rounds.
Table 2 shows details of each data collection rounds. Data was collected according to the data plan introduced in Section 2.2.
Table 2. Details of interviews, workshops and discussions in Data1-3.
Participants / role
Data type Topic, description Date, length
Docu- mented as
Data 1, for the Current state analysis
1 Respondent 1:
Projects team manager
Face to face Interview
Workshop to map the current process of onboarding
April 2019, 60min
2 Company mate- rial
Written mate- rial
Purpose is to find out the current onboarding process
3 Respondent 2,3,4:
Online poll with prefixed questions
Questioning about the onboard- ing process experienced for the newest team members
Data 2, for Proposal building
4 Participants 5-7:
Skype meeting Proposal building April 2019, 60 min
Field notes, recording of the meeting 5 Respondent 8:
Own experi- ences of onboarding as a new employee
Own experi- ences
Purpose is to list technical job specific things that should be in- cluded in the onboarding period
Data 3, from Validation
6 Respondent 9- 11:
Group inter- view/ Final presentation
Validation, evaluation of the Pro- posal
April 2019, 60 min
As seen from Table 2, data for this study was collected in three rounds. The first round, Data 1, was collected for the current state analysis. It gave a holistic view of the current state of the onboarding practices in BMS team from the different angles. All the major stakeholders were interviewed to get the full understanding of the process.
In the next round, Data 2 was collected to gather suggestions from the case com- pany/unit for developing the proposal. This data was especially important because it also gives the company’s view of the subject on to the table.
For the final round for data gathering, Data 3, it was also important to discuss with the key stakeholders because the proposal needs to be validated by the company. For this data collection round, the information came from the work group discussions.
In this study, the interviews made the primary method of data collection. Field notes were made from each meeting. The interviews were conducted usually as a semi-structured face-to-face interview. Also, online poll with fixed questions was used to gather infor- mation from the newest employees in the BMS-team. Results from the poll are anony- mous. All the face-to-face interviews were done in the Schneider Electric Finland’s office in Espoo. The questions for the online poll can be found in Appendix 1.
For the research of the current state analysis, Data 1, there was also some internal doc- uments that were used. These documents can be found in Table 3.
Table 3. Internal documents used in the current state analysis, Data 1.
Name of the document Number of pages/other content
A Perehdytyskalvot.pptx 38 pages Onboarding brochure
B Onboarding plan new employee.xls 4 pages
Onboarding plan for the new employee
C Buddy – henkilökohtainen pere-
hdyttäjä.pdf 1 page Overview of what “buddy” or
mentor is meant to do
The documents listed in Table 3 were analyzed for the current state analysis, Data col- lection 1, to get a view of what kind of information has been used by the managers and the HR to do the onboarding process. All data was analyzed using Thematic analysis.
Most of the data gathered was used to conduct the current state analysis. The current state analysis section is important because it is the foundation for the new onboarding plan. However, before the current state could be done, it was important to explore best
practice and literature for relevant ideas. When compared to the best practice, the ele- ments that are missing in the current onboarding practices, are considered and examined if those should be included in the process.
3 Best Practice and Literature on Onboarding New Employees
This section describes best practice found from the literature. These are used as a basis when developing a new onboarding process for the BMS-team.
3.1 Role of Onboarding Process for Organizations
It can be said that if a company is bleeding people, it is essentially bleeding value (Sulli- van 2015). Companies spend a lot of money and resources on recruitment and selection of the new employees. Still, for example, in the United States half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months in a new position and half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days. The reasons for the large size of the failed recruitments are usually in the onboarding process. (Bauer 2010). New employees usually have hard time in performance and attaching to the working community. (Jokisaari 2011) This is why proper onboarding is crucial for the company and for the employee.
Onboarding involves usually more than what most people realize. It should provide the basic information about the company, including culture and proper ways of acting in dif- ferent situations. Also, the new employee should be trained for the job specific tasks.
Training in this context refers to the methods, which are used to present and give the skills needed for the new job tasks. Training goals should always govern employers’
strategic goals. (Dessler G 2013: 132-138).
Training usually contains the sharing of the “tacit knowledge”. According to Virtainlahti, S. (2009) tacit knowledge and focal knowledge are both needed for the wholesome knowledge. Tacit knowledge is necessary background information which is used to pro- cess and develop the focal knowledge. Focal knowledge is defined as being formal and systematic information, which can be expressed with words, numbers and for example schematics. Tacit knowledge can be defined as “know-how” of how something should be done. This know-how forms through years of experience from the specified area of inter- est (Virtainlahti, S. 2009: 42-44)
Figure 2 shows the benefits of onboarding are represented as a picture.
Figure 2. What good onboarding process provides for the company and the employee (Bauer 2010: 2).
Usually the terms orientation and onboarding get mixed up in the speech. Orientation is a process that usually starts before the first day and ends early the first week in the new workplace. Onboarding starts at the first day of the new job but doesn’t end in the first week. It should continue through different stages of the new employees’ career. Orien- tation and onboarding can also be separated into the subject areas they are dealing with;
orientation focuses on paperwork, organization and introduction to the company.
Onboarding process should adjust the new employee to the social, political and perfor- mance realities as fast and in-depth as possible. (Sullivan 2015).
Onboarding can also be referred as a process in which the new employee learns the skills, behavior and knowledge what they need to succeed in the new job. This is why it can be said that best results from the new employee can be get if the onboarding is done properly (Kaijala 2012: pp 49-51).
Every organization have their own iteration of the process in which new recruits learn about attitudes, knowledge, skills and behaviors which are required to function effectively in their new job. Researchers suggest that new employee has about 90 days to prove themselves in a new job. (Bauer 2010)
Bottom line of the onboarding process is that the new employee should feel welcome and get prepared for the job. The faster the better, because it’s always pricey for the firm to give salary to a people who are not effective.
3.2 Regional Differences in Onboarding Process
By a long time, there has been debate about the subject that should the westerners implement the Japanese style of management practices. The qualitative data from the researches show that Japanese are experts at the “soft S’s” of management; staff, skills and style. American organizations prefer mostly the “hard S’s”: strategy, structure and systems. (Beechler et al. 1996).
Japanese organizations had averagely more management levels than American firms which encouraged commitment to the organization and facilitating the lifetime employ- ment process. This can be seen also in the Japanese onboarding process. Japanese organizations want to cement a lasting relationship with the new employees. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
It can be argued that the Japanese approach is different because the new employee is assumed to continue working in the future in other job functions in the same company.
In many Japanese companies’ emphasis is placed on training and onboarding. Also, job rotation is widely used. New employee will be onboarded with these in mind (Jackson, T.2002: 112-114).
There is a difference between western type of onboarding, because in western compa- nies, the new employee is onboarded only looking for the job one has applied for. Also, the assumptions for “when the employee is onboarded correctly” varies. In Japanese corporations, it can take years of training when the new employee is a profitable worker for the company. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
A typical Japanese onboarding process is made up of five phases. Each phase usually takes place in different facilities and each phase also has its own material and function.
Phase one usually takes place in the corporate training center. The goal is to help new employees’ transition from students to employees and learn the company values.
(Acevedo et al. 2011)
Phase two usually takes place at divisional headquarters and involves rotating between all departments to learn the overall business. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
Phase three involves departmental rotations, but for longer periods of time. An employee will shadow a more tenured employee to get a better understanding of the inner workings of each department. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
Phase four usually this phase involves ongoing personal assessment to identify individ- ual strengths, interests and weaknesses. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
Phase five usually this phase takes place in a single department when the employee has received a permanent job assignment. On-the-job training by a more tenured employee is the typical method employed for this phase. (Acevedo et al. 2011: 349-354)
The Japanese way of splitting onboarding process into phases is different from the West- ern way of thinking the process. Usually in western organizations a new employee starts in a functional specialty. Only if the new employee climbs higher in the corporate ladder, then one will develop skills from different functions. Japanese companies usually train the new employee to be prepared for cross functional job functions early on. (Acevedo et al. 2011)
Both ways of executing onboarding process is valid when the right context is chosen.
Maybe the western companies should implement in some of the Japanese way of think- ing, especially for the shadowing of the employee.
According to Mathe et all. (2012), social learning, which shadowing can be counted, is useful for setting standards of behavior and creating an organization culture that values some behaviors over others (Mathe et all. 52-56). The standards set by other workers cues for the new employee on how to function in different situations.
3.3 Best Practice for Onboarding
At its best form, onboarding can be seen as a naturally flowing chain of events where the new employees learning is being supported with the right pace and it is clarified that the new employees’ role in the new company takes shape how it was intended. No matter which role the new employee is hired to, onboarding process must be succeeded. When the new employee has less professional experience, the onboarding process and the transformation of the job specific knowledge comes in to great value. (Kjelin et all. 2003:
According to Cashman and Smye (2007), there are six practices that should be imple- mented to every organization that are striving to became successful in terms of onboard- ing. First practice is that onboarding should be integrated into a process. Onboarding should not be seen as a standalone activity. It is only the first piece of the cyclical con- tinuum in the management of talent. Onboarding should encourage workers to grow themselves and the organization. Chief purpose of onboarding should be that it provides direction to both, sustained business results and career advancement.
Second practice is that HR and the boss or sponsor should be partnered in the process.
Onboarding can’t be successful if HR and the boss or sponsor are not involved. These stakeholders should provide tools, training, orientation and feedback to the process.
Stakeholders should be involved in all stages of onboarding process. Most important functions for the stakeholders are that they need to establish a baseline, formally meet during the process, illuminate norms and priorities, review resources and open up com- munication lines.
Third practice is that the onboarding process should last for at least six months. Employ- ees typically decide whether to stay or to leave the company in the first six months. It is smart to keep the onboarding running for that period of time, if the employer does not wish to lose the top appointees in that time period.
Fourth practice is to emphasize relationship building and supporting. This helps the new employee facilitate networking in the new company.
Fifth practice is to welcome a new employee to the company in a proper way. If a worker feels like another number in the company, they tend to act that way. Conversely, if the
new employee is individually and genuinely welcomed to the new company, they usually act in ways that provide strong value. Receptions, welcome packages and introductory lunch meetings reinforce to newcomers that they are part of something great and lets them know how they help bring that greatness to fruition.
Sixth practice is to offer transition coaching. Newly appointed people need a plan that helps them navigate through the inevitable challenges of transition. New employees should have realistic expectations for the first, second and third months on the job.
Roadmap should be made for the first three months and also a qualified coaching should be utilized to assist in diagnosing difficult transition situations and assess and build the commensurate skill levels. (Cashman & Smye. 2007:5)
3.4 Short-term Outcomes of Onboarding
Good onboarding has major short-term outcomes. Researchers have identified four ma- jor layers, which are related to both job roles and social environment. Companies can use these to maximize the success of the new employees onboarding process. (Beechler et al. 1996).
The first layer is self-efficacy, or self-confidence, in the job they are supposed to do.
When employee feels confident about doing the job well enough, it will create positive mind set and it will eventually lead to a more effective employee. This is one of the crucial parts of the onboarding process because one needs to be confident to be effective, es- pecially at the demanding job functions.
Second layer relating to tasks is role clarity. It means that how well recruit understands one’s role and what the company is expecting from one. If the expectations are ambigu- ous, it will affect negatively to the job performance. It the new employee doesn’t know one’s role, it will cost money to the firm by the form of un-effectiveness in the work.
A study of employees in the United States and in the United Kingdom, found that busi- nesses lose an estimated $37 billion each year because employees don’t understand their jobs. Overall, the understanding of the role clarity is the most consistent predictor
of job satisfaction and organizational commitment during the onboarding process. (Bauer 2010)
Third layer for the successful onboarding is the social integration. This means that the new employee should get to know with the colleagues and to feel socially comfortable and accepted their peers and superiors. Integration into the new work group is positively affected to commitment and turnover.
Fourth layer is the knowledge of and fit within an organizational culture. Every new em- ployee should be helped to discover the culture and their place within it. Company culture consists of politics, goals and values, but also unique language of the firm. Down the line the good knowledge of company culture is associated to the commitment, satisfaction and better turnover. (Bauer 2010)
3.5 Long-term Outcomes of Onboarding
Good onboarding gives lots of short-term outcomes, but it also gives a lot of long-term outcomes. When surveyed, organizations perceive effective onboarding as improving retention rates (52 percent), time to productivity (60 percent) and overall customer satis- faction (53 percent). Employees notice good onboarding outcomes in the forms of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. (Bauer 2010)
The level of onboarding process can help or hinder the company’s rate of accomplishing its goals. Important long-term outcome of the successful onboarding process is the per- formance of the employee. A study of the onboarding process at Texas Instruments found that recruits who went through a revisited onboarding process were fully productive two months earlier than recruits in a traditional program. (Bauer 2010)
The ultimate failure of the onboarding process is the losing of a good employee. Some employees are not a good fit for the specific firm, or they may perform badly. In that case losing an employee is a fine outcome. The bad outcome is when the firm loses an em- ployee because they are confused, feel alienated or lack confidence to handle their job.
To put it simple, good onboarding leads to good retention rates.
To summarize, when onboarding is done correctly, it leads to higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, lower turnover, higher performance levels, career effective- ness and lowered stress. (Bauer 2010)
3.6 Types of Onboarding Practices
If one wants to simplify, there are only two types of onboarding processes: informal and formal. Informal onboarding refers to the type of process where an employee learns about one’s new job without an explicit organizational plan. Formal onboarding refers to a written set of coordinated policies and procedures that assist an employee in adjusting to one’s new job in terms of both tasks and socialization. (Bauer 2010)
Research shows that companies that are engaged in formal onboarding are more effec- tive than those that do not. Formal onboarding means that companies implement step- by-step programs for new employees to teach them their roles, the norms of the company and how they should behave. Most companies that are “best in class” for onboarding have more formal onboarding programs. Usually these companies also use individual mentoring as part of the program. (Bauer 2010)
3.7 Elements of the Onboarding Process
Onboarding process can be divided into four sections. These can be found in Table 4.
Table 4. Elements of the onboarding process.
1 Compliance Lowest section. This section includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. (Bauer 2010)
2 Clarification This section is intended to clarify the employee new job tasks and all related expectations. (Bauer 2010)
3 Culture This is a wide section, which includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms both formal and infor- mal. (Bauer 2010)
4 Connection Connection-section refers to the interpersonal relationships in the working community and to the information networks which are essential for the new recruit (Bauer 2010)
These four sections form a skeleton for the onboarding process. The degree how these four blocks are used in the process defines how companies handle their onboarding process.
Companies can be categorized into three levels, which refer how they use the four build- ing sections, shown in Table 4. These categories can be found in Table 5.
Table 5. Categories of companies in the field of onboarding
According to Table 5, the highest level of onboarding is achieved only by 20 percent of the companies. These companies are usually biggest in their field of business for exam- ple Apple, IBM & Texas Instruments.
Figure 3 shows an illustration of how the companies, from worst to best in onboarding process, use these four sections.
Passive onboarding Compliance is covered by almost all organizations as part of form onboarding. Usually some role clarification is given, cul- ture nor connection is not addressed. Nobody is coordinating the task to maximize the onboarding success. Usually firms that are engaged in Passive Onboarding are likely to view onboarding as a checklist of unrelated tasks to be completed.
Research shows that 30 percent of all organizations, small, medium and large, operate at this level. (Bauer 2010)
High potential onboarding
In this category compliance and clarification are covered well and some cultural and connection blocks are in place. This stage is reached by about 50 percent of all companies. Usu- ally complete process is inaccurate or not even established in a systematic way. (Bauer 2010)
Proactive onboard- ing
The highest level on onboarding. All four blocks are formally addressed Only about 20 percent of companies reach this level. (Bauer 2010)
Figure 3. Illustration of onboarding strategy levels (Bauer 2010: 3).
When all the sections are utilized, as in Proactive onboarding strategy level, it should lower the retention of the new employees and boost the turnover of the whole company.
Even though assessing the proper training consumes time and money, it gives the new employee the right message from the organization. The message is that they are com- mitted to giving the right tools to perform and succeed (Acevedo et al. 2011).
3.8 Development of the Onboarding Plan
To develop a proper structure and right context to the onboarding plan, one should plan it as it was like any other long-term development plan. The process to develop a new onboarding process starts always with planning and curating the material that is already in use. Only after planning one can implement the new plan. (Bauer 2015)
Figure 4. Illustration of the good onboarding process (Bauer 2010: 6).
Figure 4 shows a representation of the best practice how onboarding process should be.
Company must tick all the boxes in Figure 4. to get to the higher level of efficiency in the process of onboarding new employees. Efficiency in this context means the turnaround time from the point when the new employee steps into the new firm for the first time, to the point where the new employee is integrated to the working community and is effective in the job one is doing.
According to Kaijala (2016), the big mistakes in recruiting overall are that the company hires people with narrow minds, there is no testing for the group dynamics and that the new employee is left alone.
Firstly, companies should recruit new employees with the coming years in their minds.
New employee should be hired to the company, not for the specific task. When keeping this in mind, the company should think how the new employee needs to develop, for what changes one should prepare and how one fits in to the company culture and team.
Secondly, the group dynamics should be tested in the recruiting process or in the proba- tion time. Colleagues and the new employees’ manager are the biggest stakeholders for this part. This helps the management to survey the leading behavior for the new em- ployee. Some people need more leading than others.
Thirdly, the new employee should never feel alone in the new job in hand. This can create a toxic mindset for the new employee, which usually leads to the resignation. Some em- ployees need more guidance than others, especially in the beginning of the new job.
There should tracking system of how the new employee is performing, learning and em- bracing the new job. (Kaijala 2016: 23-26)
3.9 Conceptual Framework of This Thesis
As written in Section 3.3, the usage of onboarding process defines how well new recruits adjust or perform at the new job. That makes the onboarding process crucial for the companies to get an advantage in financial side and reputation wise in the community of the job seekers.
That is why all the four blocks, defined in Section 3.3, should be taken into the onboard- ing process. Only that can make the company proactive in terms of onboarding
Figure 5 shows a representation of the conceptual framework used in this thesis. It con- tains three sections that are the most important things to keep in mind when thinking about onboarding as a process. These sections are firstly regional differences, which are presented in Section 3.2., secondly the four sections that should be included in the good onboarding process, which are presented in Section 3.6. and thirdly long-term and short- term outcomes, which are presented in Sections 3.3 and 3.4.
By making sure that all the blocks, shown in Section 4.3, are being used during the pro- cess is the only way to make sure that onboarding has been successful. Also, for the developing reasons new employees should be interviewed during and after they have been under the onboarding process. This creates points of improvement easily and pro- motes the continuous improvement process.
Figure 5. Conceptual framework of this Thesis.
4 Analysis of the Existing Onboarding Practices in BMS Team, Existing
Corporate Onboarding Material, and Team Requirements
This section discusses the current state of the onboarding process in the BMS-team.
Current state analysis is conducted by making interviews with the stakeholders. Also, company’s existing onboarding material is reviewed.
4.1 Overview of the Current State Analysis Stage
The current state analysis consisted three steps to be accomplished. The first step was to interview the Projects team manager about how the onboarding is done at the present day. Projects team manager is responsible of the implementation of the onboarding pro- cess along with his colleagues.
Second step of the research was to conduct an internet poll with prefixed questions to the newest members of the team. The reason why only the newest members were se- lected is that the onboarding process has scattered and changed throughout the years.
Only newest members can provide the valid information about the current state.
Third step was to revise the material that the company had about the onboarding pro- cess. Schneider Electric is a big company and there is lots of material available for dif- ferent countries and job functions. The material used was selected because of its rele- vancy to the subject and the BMS-team.
4.2 Analysis of the Company Material
Schneider Electric Finland has comprehensive material for the overall onboarding. The documents are used for onboarding throughout the organization. There’s no business unit-specific documentation available, at least not for the BMS-team.
4.2.1 Onboarding Slides
Onboarding slides show the overall information about the company, culture and em- ployee specific information. These are used in in every business unit in the case com- pany. In Table 6. there is a table of contents.
Table 6. Table of contents for the onboarding slides
Topic Summary of information
1 Company presentation General information about Schneider Elec- tric Finland
2 Own team Manager shows a slide about his/her team 3 Buddy – personal mentor Information about mentoring in the company 4 HR and Employment relation-
General information about the things related to the topic
5 Well-being at work and safety at work
General information about the things related to the topic
6 Training General information about the things related to the topic
7 Intra-corporate communica- tions
General information about different chan- nels where to communicate
8 Follow-up for the onboarding process
Guideline for the post-processing of the onboarding process
As seen from Table 6, the overall onboarding focuses on the general information about the company. The specific training for each job is handled within the team, at least in the BMS-team. In short, the onboarding slides handles the basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations. Also, the company culture and information networks are handled in the documents.
4.2.2 Onboarding Plan for the New Employee
This document is a template for creating the plan for onboarding process. It is an excel slide. These slides should be used whenever a new employee steps into the company.
The content of the slides is shown in Table 7.
Table 7. Content of the Onboarding plan for the new employee.
Title of the slide Content
1 First 90 days localized plan Shows the daily and monthly plan from the first day to the third month. Must be filled by the person who is responsible of the onboarding process.
2 First week at office Shows the daily plan for the onboarding pro- gram. Must be filled by the person who is re- sponsible of the onboarding process.
3 Key stakeholders Key stakeholders for the new employee can be collected here. Must be filled by the person who is responsible of the onboarding process.
4 Online learning resources Online learning resources from the intranet can be collected here. Must be filled.
As seen from Table 7, the slides must be filled by the person who is responsible of the onboarding process for the new employee. These slides create great value when used correctly. Value comes from the fact that the onboarding process needs a timetable.
Need for the timetable is explained in Section 3.1.
4.3 Internet poll for the newest team member
The poll was intended for the newest members of the team because only they could give the information current enough. The onboarding process has changed over the years, so it is better to get state of the process which is used nowadays. Poll was sent to three people ranging from 3 years of work experience to 6 months. Most of the questions were open for free speech and some were fixed to yes/no answers.
The purpose of the internet poll was to get a picture of how different individuals see the onboarding process at the current time. The perception of the onboarding can be good, bad or something in between. Answers, were those good or bad, are taken into notice
when developing a revised onboarding plan. The questions can be found in Appendix 1.
Key findings from the internet poll can be found in Table 8.
Table 8. Key findings from the internet poll.
1 None of the new recruits had personalized onboarding plan
2 All the employees who answered to the poll thought that the onboarding pro- cess was scheduled correctly
2 Only half got direct input from the team manager during and after onboarding
3 Trainings and working community are great
4 Handling of the projects should have been taught better
5 All the employees that answered were happy with information they got from the goals of the job and role within the working community
6 The method of how the new employee got onboarded to his practical job differ- entiated: some had 3 weeks long training in another country, and some had more of a mixed bag of trainings.
7 There were enough resources for the onboarding process
8 Mentor system was not used as it is defined within the company. All the em- ployees who answered said that they got instructions from different colleagues and they didn’t have specific mentor.
9 Improvement ideas: working as a couple is effective way of learning new things, common onboarding could be shorter period of the whole process, more prac- tical job-related onboarding should be in place.
To summarize the findings from the poll, it can be said that the working community is helpful, and trainings are good. All the informants from the BMS-team thought that the onboarding process was scheduled properly and there were enough resources. As a side note, there is a room for improvement also. The involvement of the Projects Team Manager was vague for the onboarding process. Only half of the informants got direct feedback during the onboarding process. Feedback should be mandatory from the team managers side. Trainings were not being scheduled for the onboarding process. Train- ings were not standardized for the whole process. Mentor system also was not utilized as intended in the company materials.
Good improvement ideas were presented. Working with a couple or a more senior col- league was identified as an effective way of learning the job specific tasks. Also, there should be more focus in the practical job-related tasks rather than general speak about the company.
4.4 Interview with the Project Teams Manager
The main goal for the interview was to get a vision what is included in the current onboarding process. The interview was conducted in a non-formal way without prefixed questions. Interesting points came up in the interview.
The current process was mapped and shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Flow chart for the current onboarding process
As seen from Figure 6, the onboarding process is goal-oriented and structured only for the first three days. After this the employees usually help more senior colleagues with their projects and within month or two, they get their own project. Also, the new employ- ees get random parts of projects to handle.
What was found out also was that there is no congruent onboarding process throughout the organization for the BMS-team around Finland.
“Practices for the onboarding process differentiates throughout different of- fices” -Projects Team Manager
From the interview also came out that the team manager does not really have allocated time for the tracking of the onboarding process. Sometimes there’s an interview after few months and sometimes there is not.
“There are no allocated hours for the Projects Team Manager concerning the onboarding process” -Projects Team Manager
4.5 Key Findings from the Current State Analysis
The findings from the current state analysis gave great info about the strengths and weaknesses in the current onboarding process. Especially the weaknesses will be used to build the new onboarding plan.
Starting with strengths, there is few findings that should be noted. These can be found in Table 9.
Table 9. Strengths found in the current state analysis.
1 The overall working community is supportive and can help in the learning pro- cess. This is especially important in the highly specialized industry, such as BMS, where there is something learn for everyday for the rest of the life.
2 The specialized trainings inside the company are useful for the purpose of learn- ing the job. On the side note it can be said that those cannot be scheduled as flexible as it should.
3 Schneider Electric clearly introduces the new employee to the compliance, cul- ture and connection sections, which are introduced in the section 3.3. These make a great start for the onboarding process.
There was also place for improvement found in the onboarding process. These points can be found in Table 10.
Table 10. Improvement points found in the current state analysis.
1 The onboarding plan-excel sheet, which can be acquired from the intranet, is not used at all. This should be used as base for the whole individual onboarding process.
2 The onboarding process is not controlled enough by the management. There should be strict times when the onboarding starts and when it ends. Only then one can measure if it has failed or not. There should also be goal-oriented vision to the whole process. Three days of scheduled onboarding is not enough.
Onboarding process should last longer.
3 Training for job specific tasks is handled vaguely. There is no clear process to introduce new employee to the tasks that should be learned.
Improvement points shown in Table 10 point out what is missing from the current onboarding process when compared to the best practice shown in Section 3.
5 Developing an Onboarding Plan for New Employees Joining the BMS-
The initial proposal was built by using ideas from best practice and literature as dis- cussed in Section 3 and the results from the current state analysis from Section 4. The study firstly comes up with a rough plan for the proposal and after that it is processed with the working group. Also, the input from the working group that has come up in the previous meetings has been taken notice. Proposal draft that was presented can be found in Section 5.6.
5.1 Overview of the Proposal Building Stage
The goal of the proposal building was to develop the proposed new onboarding plan. In the final version, the onboarding process should be goal-oriented and effective for the company and for the new employee.
Firstly, ideas on developing onboarding practices were found from the literature in Sec- tion 3. This section of the study was used to find the best practice for the onboarding process. This best practice is reflected to the current state of the onboarding process to find the areas for development.
Secondly, the current state analysis found that the onboarding process lacks the clarifi- cation part. This part of the process is used to train the new employee for the job-specific tasks. What was found also was that there is an apparent mentor for the new employees, but they are lacking time and motivation because of the overall hurry. Also, the current state analysis found that the input of the team manager should be more focused. These are the immediate defects of the current onboarding plan.
Thirdly, the proposal was developed in co-operation with the stakeholders from the com- pany. These stakeholders were Operation Director, HR Business Partner and HR trainee. All the stakeholders were involved in proposal building with their input and came up with suggestions for the final proposal.
Fourthly, the proposal was presented to the work team, which consisted the same stake- holders as before. The goal with the presentation was to get input what should be done
different or if something is missing. Lastly, the proposal was presented to the same work team for the approval.
The input from the stakeholders (Data 2) is discussed next.
5.2 Findings of Data Collection 2
Data for this section was gathered from the work team. The work group was presented the key findings from the current state analysis. All the points presented were acknowl- edged as a key improvement area for the new onboarding process, shown also in Table 10. The solving of these problem points was trusted for the author. Solutions for these problems can be found in Section 5.3.
To make the learning of job specific tasks efficient, firstly, the tasks must be analyzed and listed. For this list, the author of the study used his own experiences as a new em- ployee. List was done by reflecting to the starting point of the new job and what infor- mation would have been useful to know in that point. It should be noted that this list is biased in a sense that the author is not the typical representation of the new employee.
This is because the author has not studied or worked in the industry before. These any- way should be taken into consideration because the improved onboarding plan is in- tended to use specifically for the new employees that do not have experience from the industry. This subject is dealt in Section 1.2.
The list should be also validated by the technical experts from the case company, but taking notice strict deadlines of this project, it was not possible. The list can be found in Table 11.
Table 11. List of minimum requirements for onboarding of a new employee (Data 2).
Name of the activity and different sections corresponding to it (Data 2).
Planning Programming Project management
1 Cable pull list How to interpret con- trol diagrams
Work flow notification
2 How to order valves How to use AET over- all (In the different course, but should be looked anyway)
Who is the stakeholder in the customer side to report about different problems? How to handle problems?
3 Field equipment order- ing
How to use the Work- station (In the different course, but should be looked anyway)
4 KYTKE-program How to program (In the different course, but should be looked anyway)
How and from where to get a contractor for the project?
How to do competitive bid- ding?
5 How to end the project? (Fi-
nal folder for the customer)
6 How to sell additional work
and how to use TIPO?
As seen from Table 11, there are many things that should be taught to a new employee.
It should be noted that subjects do not differ from each other in the importance. All the subjects form a totality together. That is important to notice because the job description for the project manager in the BMS-team requires a wide area of knowledge. All the things should be taught, even briefly, before the recruit can handle the projects by him- self. If everything is not taught the efficiency, of handling job tasks, drops sharply. There- fore, the job specific training is the core of this onboarding plan.
Based on the results of the proposal discussions in BMS team and the work group, in the BMS-team, the new onboarding plan was drafted focusing on giving the new em- ployee the least stressful way of learning and adapting to a new work.
5.3 Proposal Draft
The proposal has four major parts that should clarify the purpose of the plan. These parts outline and facilitate for the whole onboarding process. The new onboarding plan is shown as it was presented to the company. The focus is in the three part-relationship between the Projects Team Manager, Buddy and the New employee. All three are needed to make the process successful. This relationship is guided by the bonus salary, which is given to the Buddy if all the terms defined are successfully proceeded.
As seen in Section 3.2, there are different ways of carrying out the onboarding. In the Japanese company culture, the onboarding process consists many steps and phases until the new employee is ready for one’s work. This Japanese method is used partly as a basis for the new onboarding plan for the BMS-team.
For this plan, the bonus salary for the mentor should be considered. According to Kau- hanen (2010), bonus salaries should be seen as an investment, which should create something or develop something useful. The goal should be maintaining and developing the competitiveness of the company (Kauhanen 2010: 86-90). In this case, the onboard- ing plan is the thing that should maintain and develop the competitiveness of the com- pany.
According to Hulkko et all (2002), bonus salary is functional when it has definitions that it fulfills. The definitions are that firstly bonus salary should produce wanted effects, for example develop the fulfillment of important goals. Secondly the bonus salary should be in line with the company’s strategy and goals. Thirdly it should get support from the em- ployees and from the management. Fourthly it should be for common good. By common good it means that it should do something good for the company (Hulkko et all 2002: 44- 46).
When thinking about the motivation for the more senior employees to act as a mentor for the new employee, bonus salary comes in place. There is a need for the onboarding process to be successful. It is for the common good, for the company but also for the
employee. The definitions to get the bonus salary should be developed. Those definitions should direct the mentor’s actions in the right direction where, in the end, onboarding process is successful. Bonus salary should never be automatically acquired. Therefore, definitions are needed (Rämö (2018: 153-156)
Plan is mostly outlined by the conditions written below.
Initial Proposal: Onboarding plan for the BMS-team
Purpose: to give clarification about the new job to the employee in a controlled way.
Table 12. Basic guidelines for the onboarding plan.
Basic guidelines for the onboarding plan
1 Every new employee gets an assigned personal mentor,” Buddy”
2 New employee works as a pair with Buddy for three months
3 In this three months’ time, there’s no own projects for the new employee
4 If the new employee wants and is capable of handling own projects in the first three months, it can be done. This is an exception, not a usual method.
5 In the three months’ time, Buddy needs to plan and teach sections of job specific tasks to the new employee.
6 After the onboarding process has ended, there must be a meeting with the stake- holders (Buddy, Projects Team Manager and the new employee). Buddy must organize this.
5.3.2 Job Specific Tasks
Job specific tasks form the skeleton for the process. These must be taught to complete the onboarding process. This list is based on my own experiences as new employee, so
to be able to implement the process; these must be validated by technical experts. These can be found in Table 13.
Table 13. Job Specific Tasks.
Name of the activity and different sections corresponding to it (Data 2).
Planning Programming Project management
1 Cable pull list How to interpret control diagrams
Work flow notification
2 How to order valves How to use AET overall (In the different course, but should be looked anyway)
Who is the stakeholder in the customer side to report about different problems?
How to handle problems?
3 Field equipment or- dering
How to use the Work- station (In the different course, but should be looked anyway)
4 KYTKE-program How to program (In the different course, but should be looked any- way)
How and from where to get a contractor for the project?
How to do competitive bid- ding?
5 How to end the project? (Fi-
nal folder for the customer)
6 How to sell additional work
and how to use TIPO?
5.3.3 How to onboard
This section contains common guidelines for the Buddy. These are based on the best practice and the views of the common colleagues. Outlines for onboarding can be found in Table 14.
Table 14. Outlines for the Onboarding.
Outlines for the onboarding
1 All the subjects should be taught firstly by shadowing the Buddy. After that, the new employee can do independently those tasks. All the time the Buddy must be available for questions. The definition of” why something is done” should be clear.
2 Buddy must be careful not to give tasks that can cause insurmountable stress to the new employee.
3 No tasks that are irrelevant or unclear to the new employee are not allowed.
4 New employee shadows the Buddy with his/her ongoing projects. Buddy can also point the new employee to see someone else’s work, but it must be con- trolled.
5 Buddy must do weekly plan using the Onboarding plan excel sheet. No need to do the plan for the whole time at once. One week before hand is the mini- mum.
5.3.4 Bonus salary for the Buddy
The function of the bonus salary is the motivation of the Buddy. Onboarding process takes significant amount of work, and this work must be done in order to perform the process properly.
To ensure that the Buddy has gotten impartial review about the onboarding process, it must be avoided that the new employee hears about the bonus salary.
Buddy gets a bonus salary of 1500€, only if all the following definitions are completed successfully:
Table 15. Guidelines for the bonus salary.
Guidelines for the bonus salary
1 There’s a weekly meeting with the Projects Team Manager, Buddy and the new employee, where the new employee can tell how the onboarding is going and what should be looked extra carefully. Time and place of these meetings must be recorded.
2 There is a plan for the whole onboarding process. It must be made before hand but can be done in sections. (Approved by team manager)
3 The new employee gets a form after the three months. In the form there’s a questionnaire about the subjects which were presented before. All of the sub- jects should have been processed.
4 New employee is in the company after the four months of probation.
Onboarding process should last for three months. The duration of the process can be tweaked after the implementation. Even after the implementation, three months should be the minimum duration of the process.
Weekly meeting should be arranged for every week. Meeting should be arranged regu- larly because it is important to control and oversee the process by the behalf of the Pro- jects Team Manager.
Timetable for the whole process is crafted by the person working as a Buddy. This time- table is done for every week of the onboarding process. Timetable for each week should be made before hand, at the minimum one week before.
5.4 Summary of the Initial Proposal
The Proposal was made using the theoretical framework based best practice found in Section 3. Reflecting on the theoretical framework and the current state analysis, the
proposal was made with the found faults in the current state analysis in mind. These faults were fixed according to best practice found from the literature, as shown in Figure 7 below.
Figure 7. Three collaborating partners of the onboarding plan.
Figure 7 shows the visual representation of the trinity of onboarding participants. The main structure is collaborated by three stakeholders: The New employee, Projects Team Manager and the Buddy. Figure describes the flow of information and responsibilities between different stakeholders. These three stakeholders are ultimately connected in the weekly meetings where all sides should be present. Other actions from the New employee, Buddy and the Projects team manager are also described and discussed in these weekly meetings.
The most important tasks for Buddy to perform is the planning of the weekly schedule and the execution of it. Basically, the whole process is in the hands of the Buddy. With
that in mind the input from the Projects Team Manager is crucial for the succeeding of the process. If the Buddy has the control over the process, supervising of it is in hands of the Projects Team Manager. Team Manager should oversee the process and steer it in the right direction if it is not going in the right way. The new employee should show proactivity in every part of the process. In the end, much of the learning needs should come from the new employees’ input.