Pre-boarding is a critical part of the onboarding process, which welcomes and integrates new employees into a company. And it happens before a new hire even starts. Once they’ve accepted a job offer everything you do, or don’t do, will shape how they view your company – good or bad. Make a new employee’s pre-start experience enjoyable and they will arrive in a positive frame of mind.
Does preboarding really make a difference?
Here are a couple of true stories to give you an idea:
A former colleague recently accepted a new role. She didn’t hear from the company until she called them the day before starting to ask when to get there and who she’d be meeting. But on arrival, she still spent the first half an hour sitting in reception waiting to be taken to her new office and the next four hours filling in paperwork. There was no office tour, no formal introductions and no structured onboarding. She ended up leaving after three and a half months.
By contrast, when she accepted a role at a global fashion brand they immediately sent her a $500 gift voucher to spend on a new work outfit at one of their stores. It helped create a sense of excitement about joining the company and she shouted about them from the (social media) rooftops. She hadn’t even walked through the doors and she’d already become a brand ambassador.
On her first day, she was given a company cup, folder, welcome mousepad and mouse, a water bottle with her name on it and a personalised dog bowl for her pooch (that she’s allowed to bring in). Unsurprisingly she felt welcomed and appreciated.
Another friend decided to return to the workforce after four years being a fulltime mum. She accepted a role, but was worried about the effect on her 7-year-old child. Before starting, her daughter got a letter from the chief executive (CEO) of her mum’s new company. In it the CEO said that even though she’d see less of her mummy, he was going to make sure she could still go to special events at school, get home as soon as possible and that she could come to work with mummy on family days. Finally, he couldn’t wait for her mummy to join because she was so talented and they would look after her.
This personal touch reinforced that she had joined the right company.
Preboarding your employees is really good for business
In the human resources game, the period between an accepted offer and a start date is known as the ‘recruitment danger zone’. A time when your new hire’s current employer, or competitors, can swoop in and make a counter offer or force them to question their decision to join you.
That’s why you need to show your new hire that they’re joining the right company. Pre-boarding is less about orientation and more about demonstrating that you’re prepared to make an emotional investment in someone, who will hopefully make one in your company in return.
The whole onboarding process is a window into the soul of a company. You want new employees to like what they see – if recruiters are nurturing and attentive during the pre-boarding stage, they’re likely to be nurturing and attentive employers too. If they don’t like what they see and leave, or don’t even start, the costly recruitment process will have been wasted.
How to get pre-boarding right
It doesn’t take much to make a new employee feel part of the team before they start, but it’s often overlooked. These basic tips might help:
- Maintain contact with a candidate before they arrive. Call them personally to congratulate them and consider inviting them to team events.
- Assign them a buddy or a mentor and invite them to meet before day one.
- Send them paperwork that needs to be completed and sort out their logins and email accounts, so they aren’t overwhelmed by admin on day one.
- Tell them what time to arrive, where to go and who they’ll be meeting. And send an agenda well ahead of time.
As we’ve seen, some companies go beyond this by adding thoughtful personal touches, but even doing the pre-boarding basics will put you ahead of many. Combined with an effective onboarding program, it can have a huge impact on the retention and productivity of your new hires.
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