Onboarding and Knowledge Sharing: Cases from the Netherlands and Norway


  • Hanne Marit Haave Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Rena, Norway
  • Pascale Peters Nyenrode Business University, the Netherlands
  • Yasmina Khadir-Poggi Nyenrode Business University, the Netherlands
  • Tone Vold Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences




onboarding, knowledge sharing, telework, sensemaking, uncertainty


Whereas some organizations struggled and had to let staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, others had to expand to keep their business running. In this case, new employees had to be onboarded remotely due to the governmental restrictions regarding physical appearance in the workplace. The newcomers needed interactions to learn about organizational rules and regulations (compliance) and develop personal mastery (Clarification). To adopt and internalize the organizational norms and values (culture) and to become part of the work community (connection) interactions with leaders and co-workers are important. In this paper, we focus on the onboarding process of newcomers during the COVID-19-pandemic and what we can learn from this after the COVID-19 pandemic. By building on Bauer’s 6C framework for onboarding (compliance, clarification, culture, connection, confidence and checkback), we analyse the data from two countries: the Netherlands and Norway. Two main themes are elaborated from the study: uncertainty regarding the work to be done and sensemaking of the introductory courses and follow-ups. We discuss possible implications for a post-Covid onboarding processes. Our findings show that the newcomers experience uncertainty with little or no personal contact. At the same time, they claim that the e-learning is supporting their learning process and their introduction to the organization. The perception of information varies and some of the newcomers’ experience solitude and the responsibility of actively seeking information is placed with them, whilst others perceive the team designated for their onboarding sufficient to becoming a full member of the organization.