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The “Wow effect” in “Onboarding”




As APEC CEO Jean-Marie Marx said a few weeks ago, “Tensions are high. With an executive unemployment rate of 3.5%, applicant pools are becoming exhausted.” “The market hasn’t been as strained as this since 2000,” says recruitment professional Thibaut Gemignani, CEO of the job offer site Cadremploi.

As recruitment consultants, we have daily awareness of the dearth of certain profiles and the “battle” to attract the best.   

Despite that, curiously enough, we are also seeing that once staff are successfully recruited, many companies fail to observe an important stage: integrating the newcomers.   

And yet the first few weeks after someone takes up a new post are fraught with danger: new recruits sign letters of engagement focusing on all the positive signals they registered during the recruitment process, and their first few weeks will show if they made the right choice. If they have the slightest doubt, they will be tempted to reconsider their position, especially as they could well get other offers, given the tension in the job market.   

When executives start actively searching for a job, they initiate as many actions as they can, and after a certain time they will be exploring certain avenues simultaneously. As every recruitment process has its own rhythm, applicants are often forced to make a choice before following all their actions through. They may very well say yes to a post without abandoning all the other processes. 

          “The first few weeks after someone takes up a

new post are fraught with danger.”


Even if they want to behave honestly with their new employers, they will naturally be highly sensitive and attentive to any speaking signs that might affect them, and will form views on the quality of the company they have joined and the advantages of the post they occupy. If employees don’t feel at ease in their new job, they know it will take six months at most to find another one. 

For the company, it is crucial for new recruits to have no doubts about their choice – and within a very short time. 

So why not apply the “Wow Effect” marketing theory to the integration of staff into a new post?

In a company’s relationship with clients, “the Wow effect” is something clients aren’t aware they have bought. They then receive it and are amazed. “The Wow effect” is the element that transforms a “passive” client into a “promoting “client. Today, the companies with the most sophisticated marketing approach are looking to go far further than merely fulfilling a promise. They aim to touch the emotional core of their clients, and make a deep and lasting impression.  

Applying this concept to the integration of new recruits represents an easy, low-cost way of inspiring maximum commitment from new staff members, thus reducing turnover and developing both team spirit within the company and the productivity of new members. 

” Applying the “Wow Effect” marketing theory to the HR world when

hiring new staff is a catalyst for successful integration.”


Beyond a highly effective integration process – necessary, but not enough to produce the “Wow Effect” –,  the following are essential:

  • With each stage of the integration process, focus on those little extras that make all the difference. For example:

    • Specific demonstrations of attention from their direct report and the HRD between the signature of the engagement letter and the moment when newcomers start work;
    • The use of new digital tools before the job begins. There are now onboarding apps for connecting with new employees once the contract is signed, meaning that they can collect information that will facilitate life when they start work;
    • A particularly warm welcome on the first day new people start work, with their future team taking a close interest;
    • Very regular updates organized for new recruits with their boss and with the HRD. 
  • Preparing the welcome beforehand by informing all those concerned by the new recruitment, and answering employees’ questions and concerns about any changes that might transpire because of the new arrival. 

  • Giving new staff members all the information needed to create a clear picture of the integration process, in a welcome booklet or some other form:
    • How should I work during my first weeks and months? 
    • Whom can I approach for any questions, and where do I find them?   
    • How often and to whom should I submit my first feedback?
    • What are the success indicators for the company in general and my post in particular?   
  • Formalizing this integration process and setting it in motion will provide an inspiring working environment for new recruits and their teams and colleagues alike.


These are just a few ideas, of course, and every company will gain from developing a specific integration approach reflecting its own culture.

The benefits this provides are incontestably far superior to the effort it would take to rekindle new recruits’ interest (or even replace them) if the integration process is a failure.

“Every company will gain from developing a specific integration

approach reflecting its own culture.”


– July 2018 –

François Humblot, Deputy Director of Grant Alexander: francois.humblot@grantalexander.com