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Lisa Engels (left) is responsible for the onboarding process in the People Empowerment team at IKOR. Stefanie Hahn, a marketing expert at the company for many years, has actively supported the continuous improvement process for onboarding.

– Company and Culture

How IKOR is taking its onboarding to the next level


In fall 2023, IKOR comprehensively evaluated its redesigned onboarding process. The core idea: to offer new employees an optimized onboarding experience. To this end, the technology consultancy's "Team Onboarding" developed personalized induction plans and relaunched the associated interactive Welcome Days in person. The positive response and increased employee engagement show how important it is to continuously review and improve onboarding excellence.

"Every new employee is like a new chapter in a book. And we are the authors who help to write these first pages," says Stefanie Hahn with a wink as she makes the final preparations for the upcoming Welcome Days at the IKOR office in Essen. Lisa Engels stands next to her. "We don't just want to provide information, we want to build a robust connection," she adds. Accordingly, the onboarding process at IKOR goes far beyond the usual.

"The integration of new employees is at the top of IKOR's agenda as a sustainable achievement"

This was preceded by a decision in fall 2023 to carry out a nine-week evaluation of the IKOR onboarding process together with representatives from internal departments such as Finance, Procurement, IT and Assistance. Lisa Engels and Stefanie Hahn from the People Empowerment Unit were in charge of this. First, the HR and communication experts precisely evaluated and documented the existing processes. On this basis, they were not only able to make well-founded decisions but also to identify approaches for improving the quality of induction, making it more efficient and safer.

The first revision focused on automation, digitalization and data security, among other things. This had become necessary in order to anticipate the increasing demands of a networked working world. A detailed process analysis was carried out: What weak points need to be better documented? And where do we need more targeted solutions?

The pandemic opened up new perspectives

According to this, structure in the process is crucial for employee productivity and retention. This also includes further developing the corporate culture, structuring specific work packages and communicating clearly, for example, about expectations and goals as well as the use of internal information systems. According to Lisa and Stefanie, effective onboarding enables new employees to familiarize themselves quickly and effectively while building a deep bond with the company.

Lisa Engels, who started at IKOR in 2020, shortly before the pandemic, found her onboarding to be "impersonal", and was deeply influenced by this experience. Today, as the responsible Onboarding Manager in the People Empowerment team, she has redesigned the onboarding process together with Stefanie Hahn and thus positively shaped the employee experience from the first day new colleagues joined the company. "The pandemic was a catalyst in many ways. It forced us to rethink digital and personal onboarding elements," explains Stefanie Hahn.

Stefanie, who plans and implements employer branding and internal communication at IKOR, pays particular attention to ensuring that corporate culture and values are always clearly communicated. "We want to create an experience that appeals to new employees emotionally and engages them immediately," adds HR specialist Lisa Engels.

The four most important insights into what makes onboarding a success

The process combines physical and digital elements to respond more flexibly to employee needs.

Transparent Communication:
Open exchange promotes commitment and understanding. Regular updates and clear access to information increase the feeling of appreciation.

Adaptation of Materials:
Instead of the previous automatic dispensing of little-used, high-quality notebook bags, IKOR now adapts the dispensing of materials precisely to actual requirements. This makes it possible to use resources more efficiently and thus operate more sustainably.

Inform Digitally:
Communication is now only digital, which is not only more sustainable, but also speeds up the flow of information.

"Welcome" is a mission

In the interests of flexibility and personalization, every new IKORian receives an induction plan tailored to their individual needs." Process individualization gets employees more involved and helps them to feel part of the team more quickly," explains Lisa. Accordingly, IKOR now holds its Welcome Days for new colleagues both in person and digitally - depending on the location and preference of the respective new-hires. For new employees within Germany, the Welcome Days in person are "a great opportunity for all new people to meet each other on site, in person," explains Stefanie.

What are the Welcome Days like from a new-hire's perspective? "The division of Welcome Days into two parts is well thought out and structured," reports Martin Schmalfuß, who started as Principal Developer at IKOR in September 2023 and has already gained extensive IT experience. "In the first part, the most important areas and new processes are not simply explained, but presented by the individual teams in a hybrid format. In the second part, new employees will meet other colleagues who have also started working at IKOR in the past four to six months. The exchange and also the presentations by the other teams on these two days is relaxed and informative. The evening event on the first day is the highlight. And the second day is also excellently organized," recalls Martin. He particularly emphasizes the opportunity for direct exchange. "As new IKORians, we were able to give feedback on everything straight away. The onboarding was just great!"

Feedback, learning processes, successes and goals

The revised onboarding process has received consistently positive feedback. "It's always nice to see how new colleagues switch from 'me' to 'we' after just a short time," says Stefanie. "The positive feedback inspires us to constantly look for improvements," adds Lisa. For example, one of the two Welcome Days is always attended by one of our senior managers - at least a hybrid. This makes the new arrivals feel seen and valued by management, regardless of their entry level.

Conclusion: IKOR Onboarding uses a continuous improvement process

IKOR is continuously improving its onboarding process. To this end, the technology consultancy assesses the effectiveness of the recently conducted examinations. The process feedback from new IKORians forms the basis of the data. "Only feedback and process refinements can ensure that every new colleague has an optimal onboarding experience, is enthusiastic, feels committed and comfortable," summarizes Lisa. "Screening, optimizing and seamlessly designing processes - one of IKOR's core competencies - is a constant reminder of our company's commitment. The integration of new employees as a sustainable service is right at the top of our agenda."

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