Excellent Practices

Central onboarding/introduction programme

Practice Category: Research

Centre: The Netherlands Cancer Institute

Miriam Boer


Challenge which the practice addresses

Most employees are excited to start a new job, but are also uncertain at the beginning. They want to be able to contribute as quickly as possible. Faster deployment of new employees ensures a high level of employee satisfaction, among new and existing employees. This is also important for The Netherlands Cancer Institute, certainly in these times when it is difficult to find personnel. Our challenge is to make new employees feel welcome and important, while at the same time introducing them to our working methods. To achieve this, we wanted to improve our employee journey.


The Netherlands Cancer Institute aims to support new employees master their role, build relationships, and learn about our internal processes. We see it as an investment in the next generation of knowledge experts. For that reason, we have developed an onboarding programme. This programme aims to make new employees feel welcome, have plenty of opportunity to meet with other colleagues and have the opportunity to contribute to patient care right from the start. In addition, new staff is immediately (safely) employable, which saves money and time.

On the first day, all new employees will start with our introduction day. They learn more about our strategy, culture and patient journey. After that, professionals with a direct contribution to patient care start a 3-day multidisciplinary instruction course to learn all about quality and safety in a fun and interactive way.


Before starting the development of the programme, we first conducted a survey among the participants of the old programme. Then, six months after the start of the new programme, we conducted another survey. In this survey, we included questions about the appreciation of the programme, the duration of the onboarding and the appreciation of the organisation. In the first survey, the programme scored an average of 7.6. The outcome of the survey about the new programme was an average of 8.4.

The programme provides a shared frame of reference in key areas of quality and safety, which enhances teamwork.

New employees indicate the following:

  • It gives them a warm welcome and provides all the information and tools they need to be comfortable and confident enough to do their work.
  • They feel comfortable enough to ask questions, share their ideas, and voice concerns.
  • They receive multidisciplinary training, which makes them aware of one of our most valued culture values.
  • They are trained in a group, which is more efficient than one-on-one training. Fewer co-workers, who train new employees, are needed. This has a great impact on our productive hours.

Critical success factors

Besides the concerning content that must be right, the most critical success factor of this programme is that it is fun! The programme is set up according to an escape room. There are multiple vaults that new employees have to decode while solving knowledge games. They can earn points for the best care. It is played individually as well in teams. The whole escape room is built around the journey of one of our patients, Mr. Pietersen. The aim of the game is to provide Mr Pietersen with the best possible care.

Next steps

The programme is now offered to doctors, nurses, surgical assistants and lab technicians. During this programme general and job specific assignments are addressed. In the near future Nurse Practitioners and front- and back office employees will also be included.

The first day, the introduction day, will also be reviewed. More attention will be paid to the patient journey and a new interactive module will be developed with more knowledge about cancer.