Pre-boarding: the secret to employee engagement

When pre-boarding is a key component to successful recruiting, why are so many companies ignoring it?

Competition for today’s top talent is intense. If you’ve managed to find an outstanding candidate for a role at your company, there is no guarantee that they’ll turn up at reception on their first day. Nowadays, it’s an employee’s market. A rival firm can easily lure your perfect candidate away from you with promises of better culture, higher pay, and more opportunities. So how do you get your recruit to stick to their decision of joining your company?

Preboarding is the secret ingredient to successful recruiting that most businesses are ignoring. When a candidate lands a job, there will inevitably be a notice period to serve. This means that there is a minimum of a month that can go by before their start date, a very vulnerable time for the employer. Interest can wane, counteroffers can come in, and attention can be diverted – and it’s up to the new employer to make sure their chosen candidates stay faithful.

Which is where pre-boarding, a subset of onboarding, comes in. This is the period from offer acceptance to the new employee’s first day. The emphasis is on building excitement and enthusiasm for the role and presenting your organization in the best possible light.

Why should we pre-board?

Recruiting is a big enough job within an organization, and a lot of responsibility rests on the particular department in charge. Pre-boarding may create extra work but can save a lot of time, money, and resource overall. And there are several reasons why pre-boarding is seen as vital to the overall employee experience:

Piques enthusiasm: While the interview is a formalized process to assess the skills, talents, and suitability of the candidate, pre-boarding acts like positive PR for the company. This is the ideal opportunity to market your business to your new employee to build excitement. It should enable them to start their first day, feeling driven and motivated for their role.

Minimizes “ghosting”: Traditionally, employers were more likely to ‘ghost’ their candidates. Now, it’s the other way around and employees hold all the cards. While organizations have tightened up their hiring processes with phone calls, automated emails and letters, the rates for candidates not turning up on their first day has been calculated at around 2.4%

Curbs nerves: Nerves can be at an all-time high before beginning a new job, and the pre-boarding process can go some way to calming down first-day anxiety. It’s here that the starter learns what to expect, gets all the admin done and discovers a little a bit about the people they’re meeting.

Prepares the employee: 40% of staff turnover happens within the first month. So, organizations must make sure they use the period before the official start date to prep the employee and welcome them into the workforce family. 

Gets the boring bits out of the way: The first day at work can be a whirlwind of forms, paperwork, and administration. This often distracts the employee from learning anything about the workplace and colleagues. To allow the starter to enjoy the first day, send over as much paperwork in the pre-boarding process as possible.

What does the preboarding process need to include?

In short, the pre-boarding process can include anything you think relevant for your new recruit to know. This could range from getting their uniform size and help working out their route to work, to a layout of the offices and a run-through of first day activities.

Your pre-boarding process will be unique to your organization and may change depending on the department your recruit is joining. However, there are some ideas that most organizations will find relevant and should include in the formation of their pre-boarding process.

Core values: Your core values sum your organization and its people. These are the essence of what you stand for, your beliefs, principles, and philosophies. They also provide a short cut for the recruit to understand what your vision and priorities are. Explaining these core values to your beginner will allow them to align themselves with your mission, and reinforces the relationship that they have with the organization.

Admin and forms: One of the most time-consuming, but necessary, parts of starting a new company is the administration involved. From tax forms to bank details and insurance documents, pre-boarding can be an excellent time to get the paperwork out of the way. That way, the first day can focus on other more exciting things.

Prep for the first day: Does your employee need to bring anything with them on the first day? Proof of ID? Insurance documents? Do you need them to start mid-morning? Make sure your pre-boarding contains all the information that your recruit needs so they can have everything prepared for their first day.

Map of office and local amenities: Information on the local area is another way to spur enthusiasm and excitement. Lists of the best places to get a coffee, go for after-work drinks and pick up lunch are a great introduction to their time at the company. And if you offer staff perks like gym discounts or reduced cinema tickets, even better.

Tips to prepare for your starter’s first day

Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash

There are a number of things to include in your pre-boarding process:

Office tour: Invite your new recruit on an office tour before they start employment at your organization. This will give them a chance to navigate where they will be working and allow them to meet the key people they will be interacting with on a daily basis. Office tours also act as a live organogram of the organization, demonstrating the various departments, managers, and key areas of the workplace.

Send intro video: This is used to great success by Zappos, who share their company culture with recruits as soon as they accept the job offer. This video gives an insight into what the new employee has in store and provides a refreshing welcome to the workplace from the comfort of the person’s own home.

Organize lunch: On your correspondence, invite your starter out to lunch. This can provide an informal setting for a catch-up and chat about work over some good food, and a great introduction to a good lunch spot near the office!

Send company swag: Sending out a little package of company swag is a great way to introduce your employee to your company. Whether it’s a hoodie, stationery, or other merchandise, it’s an excellent way to make an informal hello before their first day, and a great introduction to your company culture.

Invite to nearest social: If your workplace organizes socials, make sure you invite your new starter to the next one. These situations can be a great place for starters to meet their colleagues outside of the pressures of the workplace.

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