Towards successful onboarding: Case Aalto University

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
The objective of this study is to find out what are the building blocks of a successful onboarding process and how it could be developed in the case organization, Aalto University. The target group of this study are professors, who regardless of representing a minority employee group are strategically the most important one among academic workers in Aalto University. By focusing on newly hired professors, this study aims at understanding the current onboarding process and the related experiences and perceptions of the employees themselves. By taking into account the implications of and opportunities embedded in digitalization, onboarding processes can be designed more efficiently. In addition, by better understanding the employee experience attached to the onboarding process, the aim of this study then is to be able to understand the comprehensive onboarding experience of newly hired professors at Aalto University. The research design has been built around case study approach where the main data consists of eight transcribed in-depth interviews. This data is complemented and informed by empirical material that includes documentary materials and unstructured observations. The unstructured observations provide a lens through which the interview data is being analyzed. Findings of this study show that onboarding in academic environment requires a different and innovative approach. Professors as a target group are challenging because their role is often perceived as highly independent. According to one of the central findings of this study the current onboarding at Aalto represents a process that lacks systematic approach where variation occurs at various stages in the process. To be able to point out the needed changes and improvements, the comprehensive onboarding experience must be taken into account as it reflects directly to many important organizational outcomes in the long term. Communication plays a key role in further developing the onboarding experience at Aalto University.
Thesis advisor
Vuorenmaa, Hertta
onboarding, employee experience, digitalization, orientation
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