Onboarding is a free, first opportunity to retain your new hires. It allows the organization to set the tone for the new hire experience, while having an opportunity to instill a new culture or proper training. Many organizations focus on the main course of onboarding, and even more often on orientation. There is a less known (but highly valuable) missed step: pre-onboarding. In this blog, we'll explore what pre-onboarding is, how it can positively impact your employees and your organization, and some best practices to bring back to your new hires.
What is Pre-Onboarding?
Pre-onboarding begins from the moment a job offer is accepted and ends on the employee's official start date. It's the time when new hires transition from being candidates to becoming employees. During pre-onboarding, employers can prepare new hires for a smooth integration into the company, ensuring they feel valued and well-informed before even stepping foot into the building for orientation.
The pre-onboarding process is your only opportunity for a positive and lasting first impression on your new hires. By welcoming them with warmth, transparency, and a sense of belonging, you set the stage for a more engaged and enthusiastic workforce. Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of a strong pre-onboarding:
- Reducing Stress and Anxiety: Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. By spacing out the tasks of orientation and beginning introductions early, we can bring the new hire up to speed at a less stressful pace.
- Time Efficiency: Waiting until the first day to complete administrative tasks, like paperwork and IT setup, can waste valuable time. Pre-onboarding enables you to tackle these tasks before the official start date, allowing new hires to jump into their roles quicker and more effectively. Besides, who wants to sit in a room signing papers on their first day?
- Enhanced Engagement: Pre-onboarding shows new hires that you're anticipating their arrival, and they are not just “another body in the door”. The feeling of belonging begins fostering engagement from day one.
- Reduced Turnover: Increased communication and engagement significantly reduce new hire “ghosting”.
- Productivity Boost: By using pre-onboarding to complete documentation and basic training, you can bring the new hire up to speed and contributing to the organization at a faster rate.
With all these strong benefits of pre-onboarding, how do we make it happen? There are a host of best practices that you can include in pre-onboarding to ensure your new hires are confident and already part of the team on their first day!
- Welcome Communication: Reach out to new hires with a warm and personalized welcome message. This can include human resources, immediate supervisor, or onboarding champions.
- Documentation and Paperwork: Assign necessary paperwork, such as employment contracts, tax forms, and benefits information during pre-onboarding. This allows the new hire to review documents (for example benefit information) with family members and ensure all documentation is fully completed.
- Welcome Kit: Gift a welcome package to your new hires. This can be sent or provided during offer signing. The welcome kit can include the orientation schedule and instructions, company swag, local restaurant recommendations from employees, snacks and/or safety equipment.
- Preparation: By taking a little extra time to prepare for the arrival of your new hire, you can really make a difference for the newcomer on their first day. Ensuring their area of work is clean, any technology needed is provided with access, or even just ensuring their locker is accessible and clean can make all the difference.
There are a host of ways that you can make the pre-onboarding process unique to your organization. Taking just a small amount of time for pre-onboarding can make major positive impacts in retaining and engaging your new hire.
Pre-onboarding is a valuable step that sets the stage for a successful employee journey. By focusing on this often-overlooked phase, your organization can create a welcoming, efficient, and productive environment that fosters the growth and satisfaction of your new hires. Remember, a strong pre-onboarding phase can yield substantial rewards in the long run and make you an employer of choice.