The next level onboarding experience at Universal Robots

For Universal Robots, rapid growth has created a need for continuous recruitment of highly specialized employees. Helping new hires settle in quickly is a priority and with that investing in made-to-measure onboarding is a natural next step.

Universal Robots is a global technology company that produces collaborative robots at its headquarters in Odense, Denmark. In recent years, the company has experienced sky-rocketing growth – and this has created a demand for highly specialized employees to keep momentum.

competing for talent

“We have grown so quickly. We have hired around 200 employees in the last year. This is a lot in our field, which is really specialized, and there’s solid competition. Our success depends on attracting the right people. So, recruitment, employer branding, and ambassadorship is a top priority for us – and this also includes onboarding”, says Johanne Laigaard Mikkelsen, HR Specialist in Universal Robots.

making a great first impression

Knowing the lay of the land and having committed to an ambition of growth Universal Robots reached out to Workz for inspiration on how to design an onboarding experience. Not just a plan or a programme but an event out of the ordinary. Because first impressions matter, especially when it comes to retention.   

The frame was well-defined. A two-day event in Denmark for new colleagues from around the world and an ambition to make it extraordinary; to help them understand the core of Universal Robots, shape their experience of working here from day one, and meet them at the starting post with the opportunity to connect and network. Ambitions at UR are high and so are the expectations from today’s talents.

“Great onboarding is so important. And apart from the professional aspect, there’s also an employer branding aspect to this, because the more new employees feel appreciated and that they belong here, the more likely they will become ambassadors for us in their professional network”, Johanne explains.

The result was a tailored made programme that takes new employees on a journey from relation-building exercises to gamified tools as an instrument of learning the ropes. For instance: 

  • A tool to engage with and anchor the values of UR
  • A playful workshop on user-centric innovation, making employees build and design solutions together
  • A game to discover and play with the many challenges of a supply chain
  • And a journey in the customer’s experience from first sales to after-sales service support

In this way, new employees are working their way through all the central business areas of Universal Robots and experiencing them hands-on, and together. Organizational, technical, and social introductions merge and help paint the big picture.

being welcomed by top management and serious play

Throughout the two days relevant top managers give a short introduction to their area and guide employees through various workshops.

“I think this mix of top manager presentations and serious play really made this event special. When you’re new, it’s hard to take in so much one-way info. So, it was a conscious decision to keep the presentations short and sweet, present the essence of the different parts of UR, and then letting the new colleagues learn by doing through serious play”, Johanne Laigaard Mikkelsen says, and continues:

“Together with Workz, we identified the essence of each area, and Workz transformed it in to a gamified learning experience. Such a tailored programme, with our top managers taking active part, is definitely way of showing new employees they are important and appreciated – and that’s reflected in the responses we’ve had”.

connecting and belonging at work is a long-term investment

Another significant part of this project was to ensure a comprehensive handover and putting learning principles into operation at Universal Robots for the long term. Because with their growth rate, this onboarding event is not a one-off. Actually, the company is running four events in 2022, with constant finetuning and small developments made by Johanne Laigaard Mikkelsen and her colleagues. And the results are worthwhile.

“We are getting amazing feedback. People become a part of the organization more quickly, they feel the essence of Universal Robots, and they get a great network because they connect with their new colleagues. Not just as a special event but something substantial and work-related.”

“We make this investment in our new employees, and it definitely pays off. People understand their new workplace better – what we do and how we do it, but also our culture. They feel appreciated, they get a sense of belonging”,  Johanne Laigaard Mikkelsen says and continues: “They connect with each other. And they connect with Universal Robots”.

Curious about our approach to onboarding? This articles gives you some ideas to revise the game plan for your next onboarding event.