Empowering your new hires: A comprehensive guide to preboarding

a comprehensive guide to preboarding
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Starting a new job can be an exciting and nerve-racking experience. 

As an HR professional, it’s important to ensure that your new hires feel welcome and supported from the moment they accept the job offer. Although most companies focus on onboarding, they miss out on an important step of the recruitment process: preboarding. 

Preboarding is the process of familiarizing new employees with the company culture, policies, and procedures before their first day on the job. It’s often overlooked or rushed by employers, but it can have a significant impact on new hires’ satisfaction, engagement, and retention. 

According to LinkedIn, 4% of new hires quit a job if their first day was bad, and a total of 22% leave within the first 45 days.[1]

That’s why investing time and effort into preboarding will help you set your employees up for success and foster a positive and productive work environment while also reducing staff turnover. 

In this article, we’ll explore what preboarding is, why it’s important, and how you can implement it effectively by using our 10 best preboarding practices.

What is preboarding?

Preboarding is a proactive approach to onboarding that starts as soon as a new hire accepts the job offer and continues until their first day on the job. It’s different from traditional onboarding, which typically begins on the first day of employment and focuses on completing paperwork, receiving training, and meeting colleagues.

You should have a preboarding program in place because an employee who accepts a job offer won’t necessarily start the job. CNBC reports that one in five workers don’t show up for their first day of work. One of the main reasons new hires do this is because they get a better proposal from another employer after accepting your offer. 

That’s why you should design a preboarding process to help new hires feel more comfortable and confident about their role and the company, making it more likely they’ll turn up on their first day.. 

Preboarding can involve a variety of activities, such as:

  • Sending a welcome email and/or package that includes information about the organization’s history, values, and mission

  • Providing access to online resources, such as a company intranet, employee handbook, or training videos

  • Introducing the new hire to their manager and team members via email or virtual meetings

  • Scheduling informal conversations with current employees to share insights about the company culture, expectations, and tips for success

  • Inviting the new hire to company events or social gatherings, such as a virtual coffee break or happy hour

You can customize preboarding to fit the needs and preferences of each new hire and your organization’s culture and size. The goal is to create a welcoming and informative experience that helps new hires feel valued and excited about their new job before they even start

The difference between preboarding and onboarding 

Preboarding and onboarding are sometimes mistaken for one another, but successful hiring managers know the difference and what to focus on before, during, and after an employee starts their job. 

Although most companies have a solid virtual onboarding program in place, many lack a preboarding one. Before you set out to create your preboarding program, you should know about the following differences between the two. 

Preboarding:

  • Begins the moment a candidate accepts a job offer and is designed to ensure your new hire actually arrives on day one. 

  • Focuses on preparing the employee for their role and engaging them from the start. 

  • Uses different methods to engage the new hire, such as scheduling a virtual coffee event with other employees, inviting them over to the office, or adding them to the company’s main communication channel. 

  • Done to show the employee what to expect and give them a feel of where they’ll be working and who they’ll be working with.

Onboarding:

  • Starts on the first day of employment. 

  • Focuses on helping new hires to settle into their new work environment and showing them how things are done. 

  • Involves giving new hires the right tools to do their job, setting up their work email for them, providing them with some initial training, and pairing them with a mentor to help them settle in. 

  • Is usually longer than the preboarding process. It can last a few weeks, several months, or even throughout the employee’s first year.  

The differences between these two concepts are subtle but important. You should use both preboarding and onboarding to further develop your talent strategy

The importance of preboarding: Key benefits and advantages

Now that you know the difference between preboarding and onboarding, we can discuss the key benefits of having a preboarding program. 

the importance of preboarding - key benefits and advantages

Builds loyalty 

As mentioned, just because an employee accepts your job offer doesn’t guarantee they will arrive on day one. Even if they do, they may decide to leave after only a few days or weeks at the job. 

Preboarding can have a big impact on building loyalty to your company and ensuring new hires stay on.  

Job seekers rarely apply for only one job at a time. They may have an interview with you but are probably applying elsewhere as well. This enables them to compare any employment offers and helps them to decide where they want to work. 

If your job offer is similar to those of your competitors, what makes you stand out and motivates a new hire to choose your offer over theirs? 

The answer is a solid and well-thought-out preboarding program.  This helps the new hire feel connected and like a part of the team before they even arrive for their first day at work.

To achieve this, you need to generate excitement and interest by showing off your company values and culture, work ethic, and perks of being part of the team. 

Reduces turnover

Employee turnover is every hiring manager’s nightmare. Voluntary turnover is estimated to cost US businesses $1tn per year.

The process of finding, training, and keeping new employees is time consuming and expensive. This is why most businesses choose to offer perks and benefits in addition to salaries to keep their current employees happy. 

The impact of preboarding on employee turnover can be significant if done right. This is because it helps you build rapport with a new hire and make them feel like they made the right choice by joining your team. 

Improves the new hire’s first day

The first day at work is daunting for anyone. 

Preboarding can help make employees’ first day at work a good one since they’ll already be somewhat familiar with the company and how things are done.

If your process was effective, they will have already met with some of their colleagues and been given access to any information they need to make their first day go smoothly. 

If new hires feel involved and supported from the beginning, their first day at work should be a lot less stressful. 

Eliminates new employees’ doubts about the job

It’s common for new hires to wonder if they’ve made the right choice when starting a new job. 

Preboarding can help address these concerns by showing the new employee how things are done at your company and what perks and benefits they can expect. Proving that you care about your new employee will help them ease into their new job, which will benefit their productivity from day one. 

10 preboarding best practices

Your organization’s preboarding process can include many things, and you might not know where to start or how to make the process different from your onboarding program. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 best practices to follow when creating your first preboarding process. 

10 preboarding best practices

1. Create a preboarding checklist

When creating your preboarding program, you should make a checklist so that you don’t forget important aspects of the process. 

Your checklist may include the following:

  • Prepare all the necessary documentation to collect the new hire’s data

  • Set up their accounts and work email

  • Set up their work station and provide them with the necessary tools

  • Prepare your onboarding program

  • Create a training course or provide them with training materials

  • Prepare the company’s handbook

  • Send a welcome email 

  • Announce the new employee to the rest of the team

  • Invite the new hire to a company event

  • Schedule an online coffee meet-and-greet

  • Arrange a mentor/buddy for the new employee to help them settle in

Once you’ve made your checklist, you’re ready to start your onboarding process. 

2. Send new hires a welcome package 

Sending a welcome package or company swag is a great way of showing new employees that you care about them and want to build a strong relationship with them.

Many tech giants, like Google and Dropbox, use company swag to welcome their new employees. 

The welcome package can include many things, like T-shirts, hats, water bottles, pens, stickers, and more, all with your organization’s logo or branding. Providing company swag to new employees can help boost morale and engagement and create a sense of pride and loyalty toward the company.

3. Finish admin tasks early

The preboarding process helps you get any admin tasks done early. 

This includes collecting necessary information from the new hire, like their bank details and a copy of their ID.

You should handle all the small admin details before the employee’s first day so that you can focus on getting the new hire up and running.

4. Promote company values 

One great way of using the preboarding process is to promote your company’s values

Preboarding is an opportunity to ensure your new employee is aware of what your organization stands for. 

This is also a great time to reflect on your company’s culture. How you describe and present it will say a lot about what you’re doing as a business.

New hires will be more likely to stay with your organization if you show them you have a good culture. Research has found that the likelihood of turnover at companies with a rich culture is just 13.9%, whereas the probability is 48.4% at businesses with a poor culture.

If you think you need to change how you’re presenting your company’s values, then do so, or bring up the issue with higher management. 

5. Introduce the new colleague to their team 

Sending a company-wide email introducing the new colleague is an important step of the preboarding process.

It’s not good for a new hire to start their new job only to discover that no one knows about their arrival. This is why you should inform everyone from first-line workers to C-suite executives about the employee’s starting date. 

Of course, this will depend on the size of your business. If you employ 4,000 people, it might not be relevant to everyone. But as a rule of thumb, make sure to introduce each new colleague to their respective team. 

6. Ask the new colleague to introduce themselves 

You can provide new hires with the opportunity to make a personalized introduction video. 

This will enable them to build a rapport with like-minded team members and help make the process of starting work easier. 

Give them some guidelines on what to include in their video and how long it should be – otherwise, they might not know what to say or make their recording too lengthy.  

7. Invite the new employee to a company event 

Inviting your new employee to a company event, be it online or in person, will help everyone to get to know each other. 

This will give you a deeper insight into the person you’re hiring and help you to confirm that you’ve made the right choice. The new hire will get to meet their colleagues, so when they start work, they’ll hopefully already have found something in common. 

8. Create a preboarding learning course 

Though it’s best to leave most training for the onboarding program, you can create a short preboarding video course that explains in detail what your company does, as well as when and why it was founded.

It’s also a good opportunity to familiarize employees with all the C-suite managers so that they’ll know who’s who before their first day. 

9. Ask for recruitment feedback 

You should always remember to ask for feedback on your recruitment process. 

You’ll get fresh insight into your hiring process, helping you to improve it. This also helps the new employee to express their thoughts and feel valued, which will build additional rapport and a sense of belonging. 

You can create a brief questionnaire about the candidate’s experience by using relevant questions to gather useful information. 

10. Answer important questions 

Use the preboarding process to answer any questions you think a new hire might have.

Since every company has its own expectations, it’s up to you to communicate them with your new hire instead of leaving them to second-guess.

For example, you can create an FAQ form that includes the following information:

  • Arrival time

  • Dress code

  • Parking 

  • Commuting

  • Lunch

  • Breaks

Preparing this information beforehand will help your new hire know what to expect for their first day on the job. 

Set up your new employees for success with a preboarding program 

Preboarding is an important step to help reduce employee turnover and ensure new hires show up for their first day at work.

Unlike onboarding that is used for training, your preboarding program can help build loyalty, expand your brand awareness, and eliminate any doubt in new employees’ minds. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can create the best possible experience for new hires. 

Before you even get to the preboarding process, however, you need to assess your candidates’ skills and knowledge to decide whom to interview and ultimately hire. 

You can use TestGorilla’s pre-employment testing software to find top talent fast and easily. 

Why not sign up for your free plan or book a free 30-minute live demo with a member of our sales team? 

Sources

1.Bevegni, Stephanie. (2015). “Onboarding in a Box”. LinkedIn. Retrieved March 18, 2023. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en\_us/c/pdfs/onboarding-in-a-box-v03-06.pdf

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