“As a rule, employees are taken care of from the day they arrive at the company. However, far too few companies consider preboarding,” says Kerstin Vietor, Project Manager Digital HR at B. Braun.
Preboarding is the time before an employee’s first day, and it presents a challenge for many companies. Almost 28 percent of employees quit their jobs in the first 90 days, and a large part of them quit before work begins. In the time between signing a contract and starting a new job, many candidates are still looking for other offers—and they seem to find them. In addition, they don’t feel bad about leaving, as they have yet to establish a relationship with their new employer.
Preboarding can change this cycle. By implementing strategic preboarding initiatives, companies aim to engage employees and involve them in workplace culture immediately after signing. Preboarding initiatives might include team introductions, initial work instructions, and more. All help to establish a relationship between the employee and new employer, preparing the employee for the new job and helping them to understand their new work environment. For that reason, some companies reference preboarding as “culture boarding.”
B. Braun is one of the leading manufacturers of medical technology and pharmaceutical products, as well as a provider of medical services, worldwide. The company produces a total of 5,000 products, 95 percent of which are manufactured in-house. With 64 subsidiaries worldwide, 62,000 employees, and sales of 6.78 billion euros, the company makes an important contribution to medical progress. And they use an app for preboarding to reach and retain their global workforce. The name of their app is Join B.Braun.
A study in the Unternehmerhandbuch, a German entrepreneur handbook, shows that 84 percent of German companies see a lot of untapped potential for training new employees and often do not even consider pre-boarding. B. Braun, on the other hand, is driving innovation with its employee app.
Join B. Braun: International Pre-boarding Made Easy
B.Braun has been using its own app Join B. Braun since January 2018. After eight months of preparation, the platform went live and is now used for public and internal sharing.
Because the platform must be accessible via the App Store, there is a public area of the app that is accessible to everyone. B. Braun uses this area to show information for potential job applicants including career advertisements, a brand video, company information, and more. The content in the public area of the app is lead by the Corporate Human Resources department with the clear goal of establishing B.Braun as an employer of choice.
A required log-in leads to the area of the app for internal viewing ony. After signing an employment contract, new members of the B.Braun family receive a user name and password to access this part of the app. The newcomers can then keep the app and explore the platform prior to their first working day. After that, the log-in becomes inactive, and on-site onboarding begins. More than 100 new employees are currently using the app Join B. Braun, and the tool has become unique in addressing the pre-boarding process.
“We often lost applicants within the first six months, between signing the contract and the first day. We want to take action against this now and show our new employees that they have made the right decision,” says Kerstin Vietor, who leads the project in Human Resources. “The app is designed to convey modernity but also to convey our family feeling.”
The new employees find local and corporate content in the app with accessible links to the company’s presence on Facebook and to the company website. A news channel in the platform is partly fed with content from the intranet, but focuses on employer branding and compliance topics. In order to make the app interactive, mentoring is offered via chat.
B.Braun’s main German plant is located in Melsungen, Hesse, a very nice location, but also far away from any big cities. HR recognized this problem and addressed it in the app by offering plant employees information about the area, including local tourist attractions and even addresses for schools with available kindergarten spaces.
Another area within the app is dedicated to an employee’s first day at B. Braun with answers, links, maps, and an FAQ for questions such as “What do I wear and where do I go on my first day?” and “How can I develop myself professionally?”
The Future of Work at B. Braun
Another current topic at the company is the working culture at B.Braun. With its “New Ways of Working”, the company is preparing for the future and looking at best practices from Google, Facebook, and other leading employers. No one has a permanent workplace here, but a clean desk policy prevails. Every employee has a cart with their essential tools and looks for a new place to sit each day. Therefore, desks full of clutter are a thing of the past. Flexible working is very important, and the development of the employees includes lean processes and agile methods such as Scrum at the center of work. The hierarchies at B.Braun are flat; meeting rooms are labeled creative rooms; and teams enjoy frequent social interactions. The company is innovative and explains its culture and the way they work in the app.
The app is divided into a German and an English part. Each department has its own project manager, who in turn has been trained by global HR. The national HR also trains the personnel officers of the local offices, who then pass the app on to the applicants. However, the app remains voluntary. Nobody is forced to use the platform before their official day one.
The content varies from country to country, as different topics are important at a national level. In general though, the content within the platform mainly focuses on employer branding. Join B.Braun shows what makes the company stand out as a valued employer.
Vietor’s team also uses push messages to make sure the app is not forgotten. Every two weeks, new employees receive a message on major topics such as the personnel report, new branches, or the new family part-time model.
Preparing for More
Vietor sees numerous ideas for further advertising of the app in the future, for example with a QR code in job advertisements. The framework can also be used by the HR departments of the foreign subsidiaries. She thinks they might benefit from the global information already available on the company and then enrich their own channels with local content. Other target groups could also be addressed. For example, trainees who often travel abroad might use the platform to stay in contact with the company, as well as employees on parental leave.
“The app is modern, clear, fast, and requires little work. We would definitely recommend it to other companies and are curious to see where the path will lead us,” says Vietor.
Do you have more questions or ideas about how onboarding can be used to ensure employees represent company values? Feel free to leave a comment below! Also, these articles might be interesting for you: