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Walking the bridge between HR and IT

Have you hired someone new? Onboarding marks the first ‘real’ contact with the company. An exciting moment for the employee and a crucial one for any company in the war for talent. At imec, together with Flexso, they wrote a new onboarding story to keep the wow feeling in employees and unburden every starter end-to-end. Aurélie Saenen of imec and her colleague Sabine Billen talk about how they are bridging the gap between IT and HR with this project.

Imec is a renowned research centre for nanoelectronics and digital technology. An innovative organisation to its core that also continues to search for how digitalisation and innovation can lead to improvement in its own operations. Together with their colleagues in IT and communications, the HR department has already put a lot of effort into digital solutions to optimise their own operations and the experience for employees.

Employee experience is hotter than hell. Why is it so important during onboarding?

Aurélie: “Onboarding is the moment when employees really get to know the company. At imec, we think it is important to show that we appreciate that someone has chosen a job at our company and that we will guide them through their further career path.”

“The current labour market situation also plays an important role,” Sabine continues. “At imec, we are looking worldwide for engineers, technicians and scientists with an interest in high-tech fields. A hugely specific target group for which our HR department has been looking for years for ways to get the right talents to us. So, from the moment someone applies for a job at imec, we try to trigger them as much as possible and draw them into our story.

The talent we look for is scarce and that requires a positive ‘employee experience’ policy.”

Sabine Billen

Moreover, many of them work on temporary assignments as flexible employees or in the context of our university relations (students, academics). Obviously, they go through a shorter onboarding process, but we are convinced that the experience for our external workers therefore does not have to be inferior. After all, they are future job applicants and a signboard for our company.”

Is that why you redesigned the onboarding?

Sabine: “Together with Flexso, as digital partner, we have developed a tool that gives starters access to a personalised welcome page. The content they see is fully personalised and tailored to the starter’s specific situation. Everyone gets general information about the company, but our international employees also get information about living and working in Belgium, for example. In the past, there was no software that could personalise and streamline this in the way we wanted at imec. So, we decided to set this up ourselves with the help of Flexso.”

“The major advantage is that they can access the tool whenever and wherever they want,” Aurélie continues. “During the recruitment process, we keep the threshold for applications as low as possible, and we want to continue this approach in onboarding. We want to unburden them and let them start in our company with a warm feeling. To reinforce that feeling, we are working on a virtual tour. During this 360° tour, they will be welcomed virtually at imec, a mentor will show them some highlights of our company and they will get a first sneak peek into what it is like at the workplace.”

Sabine: “Flexso’s flexibility allowed us to test a lot ourselves and see what works for imec. Then they got to work shaping our wildest ideas and did all they could to develop a personalised page for each starter while keeping maintenance simple for us.”

Don’t starters miss human contact?

Sabine: “Actually, no. The tool regularly repeats that if you have any questions, you can always contact our employee centre. In addition, our managers are encouraged to engage in conversation with starters and schedule a meeting with the whole team.”

An accessible recruitment and onboarding process is very important. We want to unburden our starters as much as possible.”

Aurélie Saenen

Aurélie: “The tool also simplifies the entire administrative process. Whereas all contact was previously via e-mail, our managers now have access to a clear dashboard with all data. A transparent overview that increases efficiency within the company and, as a starter, you only have to enter your data once. We also continue to support onboarding after the employee has started. By sending automated ‘just-in-time’ messages at various times, we ensure that everything remains manageable for the starter.  In other words, you have extra time you can use to engage in conversation. Win-win.”

“For specific results, it is still a little early, although we do get a lot of positive feedback from our starters,” Sabine concludes with a smile.