People and Culture

Meet Kuan Lin and Hayden: Curator and beneficiary of Zühlke Asia’s onboarding programme

The People & Culture team at Zühlke Asia is on a mission to ensure new joiners have everything they need to feel happy and confident when starting project work at Zühlke.

5 minutes to read
With insights from...

  • Hear Kuan Lin’s insight on curating a new onboarding programme with her team.

  • Discover what makes the programme so unique.

  • Explore Hayden’s experience of joining the onboarding programme.

As People Operations Coordinator, Kuan Lin has been working with the team in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vietnam to curate a new onboarding programme that revolutionises the employee experience. As she explains, the inspiration for the programme came from new joiners themselves.

“We got feedback from our new joiners that having onboarding sessions monthly was too spaced out. They also wanted a clearer understanding of the functions of each business unit. So we began curating a holistic, fun-filled onboarding week where new joiners get to know who we are, what we do, and how we do it.”

Below, we dive into Kuan Lin’s insight on the programme and explore Hayden’s experience of it as a new joiner.

What does our onboarding programme look like?

For the People and Culture team, a holistic onboarding programme had to deliver four key elements: professional, cultural, and personal preparation, along with dedicated space to focus—therefore, no client-facing work.

“We wanted to deliver a programme that changed the narrative from what Zühlke needed a new joiner to cover – to what they needed to feel fully integrated into our community. The week-long programme we developed involves no client-facing work, and combines professional preparation sessions, personal integration sessions, and deep cultural awareness training.”

“It includes sessions with various heads of practice, others focused on what we actually do at Zühlke, lunches that allow new joiners and Exco members to get to know each other, and a coffee and cake session where new joiners give their feedback on the onboarding week.”

Whilst not an exhaustive list, some of the sessions you’ll find on the programme are:

  • First day lunch with an assigned buddy (someone on the same team or project as a new joiner).
  • Zühlke 101 session: the history of the company and cultural considerations for Singapore and locations worldwide.
  • Sessions with senior leadership teams covering how Zühlke functions as a company.
  • Agile methodology training.
  • An introduction to the ‘empower and engage’ model – where employees set their development goals and identify skills they would like to learn.
  • Meetings with business development leaders to cultivate an understanding of the market Zühlke operates in. 
  • Onboarding quiz and little party to finish the week.

Why is a well-rounded onboarding important to life at Zühlke?

For Kuan Lin and the team, a holistic approach to onboarding is crucial because of the collaborative culture at Zühlke.

“When you work in a collaborative and agile environment, everyone needs to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. We’re also a very diverse and multicultural organisation – it’s important that new joiners are aware and prepared for what that means. Plus, we work really closely with our clients. That means our employees spend considerable time away from Zühlke’s headquarters, making it vital that their connection to us is strong enough to account for that. It’s also key for enabling new joiners to be ‘culture carriers’ and uphold our values when working with clients.”

Singapore team

How does it feel to be part of a the onboarding week?

Hayden Carson joined Zühlke’s Singapore office as a Software Engineer in February 2022. In spite of a preparation phase disrupted by COVID-19, Hayden is extremely positive about his experience with the onboarding programme.

“This was my first time working in Singapore – I moved from Sydney, Australia for the role. So for me, the onboarding began well before the week-long programme. The people & culture team was amazing at making sure I had everything I needed for my arrival, in spite of the pandemic. The week itself was incredible. I really felt like part of the Zühlke family, and learnt a lot about the cultural considerations of working in Singapore. I was given space to learn about what makes Zühlke Asia unique, what’s expected of me, and how to deliver it.”

What was the most surprising thing about the week?

While an onboarding booklet had fully prepared Hayden for the week ahead, he was surprised by the care and attention on display.

“It really exceeded my expectations. Very senior people at Zühlke make such a big effort to get to know you. I really enjoyed the session with Philippe Arm. He worked at Zühlke for over 35 years, and despite having retired, he comes back every month for the onboarding weeks across various locations at Zühlke to talk to us about the company’s history. It was super engaging and informative. People really love this place and that kind of passion is really inspiring.”

The week-long programme isn’t all the onboarding you get. There are also regular lunches where new joiners continue to meet Exco members and deepen their connection with them.

What’s next for the programme?

Kuan Lin knows that the holistic onboarding programme will need to keep evolving to deliver the best outcomes for new joiners.

“It’s vital we keep reviewing our onboarding sessions. That starts with collecting feedback from new joiners like Hayden, during the week. Then, as a team, we come together and discuss areas for improvement, what we hear from the ground, and assess the programme structure, making adjustments where necessary.”

And for Hayden, he knows he’s got the chance to play a vital role in the future success of the onboarding programme.

“I’m excited to be on the other side so I can show new joiners all the generosity and patience I received and be a part of helping the Zühlke family grow.”