Investing in creating an excellent preboarding process is just as important as onboarding your new employees when it comes to improving new hire performance and reducing attrition.

Candidates are applying to more jobs than ever before. As such it’s more likely that your candidate may still be engaged in other recruitment processes even after they’ve accepted a position with you. Effective pre-boarding minimises the risk of candidates accepting but not starting with your company.

In recent years, employers have had to up their game; not only do you need to overt your candidate’s eyes away from other opportunities, you also have to lay the right groundwork to keep them there. 

It pays to hold on to your employees; let’s look at some facts:

This is pretty scary stuff, and the purpose of preboarding is to avoid the costs incurred from premature employee attrition. But what exactly is it preboarding?

Definition: Literally, preboarding is the period of time between a candidate signing their offer letter and their first day, however, the purpose of a preboarding process is to ensure that the accepted candidate is prepared and excited about working for you in the run up to their first day.

Why is preboarding important?

Of course, cultivating loyalty is important with new employees. Not only will you avoid the incurred costs of failed hires we’ve already mentioned, you’ll also see a host of benefits. A robust pre-boarding process will ensure your employees are committed and highly motivated before they even walk through the door!

You don’t get a second-chance at a first impression, so it’s always important to make sure an employee’s first day is stimulating and enjoyable. Removing tedious admin processes will ensure your new hire can spend their time making introductions, getting to know the team and getting stuck into work instead.

Effective pre-boarding can also have an impact on speed to productivity; an important recruitment metric. Selling prospective employees on the employer value proposition before they join will increase their motivation to get off to a good start. 

8 steps to effective preboarding

Pre-boarding should be personal, yet also consistent with your employer brand. Here are eight essential steps you need to consider.

1. Say congrats & celebrate!

Whoever you’re hiring, they’re probably as happy to get the job as you are to have them onboard. The first step to building a great pre boarding process is a simple as saying congratulations. Let them know how glad you are to have them join the company. Even something as simple as a phone recorded video message of the team saying they’re looking forward to you joining can go a long way.

2. Get admin out of the way

There’s no better way to kill the excitement of a new job than with paperwork. A typical new employee will have tax forms, P45s, emails to set up and new software to get familiar with. While certain elements such as health and safety briefings are essential first day tasks, the tedium of excess paperwork doesn’t have to be. 

Before they join we recommend:

  • Setting up your new employee’s work email
  • Send them relevant employee guides and documentation so they can go through it in their own time
  • Any training videos can optionally be watched in the candidate’s own time 
  • Ask for signatures with remote signature software (such as DocuSign or E-Sign) rather than post

3. Remember your employee value proposition

Your employment value proposition (EVP) is the deal you make with your workforce; they promise to work hard for you, on the condition that you meet the promises you made in the recruitment process. Honour your side early, and your new employee will want to honour theirs.

What was it that wowed your applicant enough to want to work for your company? Use your pre boarding process to reinforce your EVP. Often the recruitment process can take a long time, and the likelihood is your candidate has applied for other jobs as well. Remind them why they decided to apply to your company. 

This is also a great way to show your employee that you deliver on your promises. For example, if your applicant chose you because of your working hours, send them a rota. If they liked your product; send them some.

4. Welcome to the family

We’ve all been there: it’s your first day, you’ve been introduced to dozens of people, and you find yourself lost in a sea of names and faces. 

Instead, have your new employee’s teammates contact them on their new work email or via your in-house messaging system ahead of their first day. This way they will get to know the relevant names and faces beforehand, and can start to build virtual relationships before meeting in person. 

You can also extend your welcome beyond their work “family”, to their real family. Does the role offer childcare or parental leave? If so, let them know about what they’re entitled to in case they need it now or in the future.

5. Minimise anxiety

The first day in a new job is an emotional rollercoaster. Yes it’s exciting but you’re likely to be anxious too, it’s unavoidable. What will my colleagues be like? Will I get there on time? Am I dressed smart enough? Am I dressed too smart? These are the kind of questions everyone asks of themselves when starting a new job. However, you as an employer can take steps to minimise anxiety for your new hire in your pre-boarding process. We’ve already covered some of the ways you can do this: making important introductions over email; sending a welcome pack etc. You could also set out clear guidelines detailing things such as dress code, expected time of arrival, specific address, name of the person they need to report to and anything they might need to bring with them. Structure and specificity should remove all doubt and let your new hire walk confidently into their new place of work.

6. Scheduling

Preparing a first day (or even first week) schedule is a fantastic way to reassure your new employee and boost productivity. Nothing is more daunting than the unknown and while your candidates will hopefully know your products and mission, they probably don’t know what the office day-to-day is like. Break this down for them in a schedule, and let them know what’s in store. 

The best cure for anxiety is excitement: tantalise your new employee by emphasising the enjoyable items in the schedule such as lunches, socials as well as added value items such like training and resources. An added bonus is that a well-prepared new hire will likely be more productive in their first week; they want to make a good impression too!

7. Freebies!

Sending candidates a card, a gift or some company merchandise in the post ahead of them joining is a really nice touch. It’s a welcome change from the mandatory forms and other electronic information they’ll have to fill out. Company swag (t-shirts, water bottles etc.) will promote your brand identity and hopefully help your new hire to feel that the company is now part of their identity. 

But! Make sure that your welcome pack puts quality over quantity. No one wants to receive an abundance of items that will quickly end up in the recycling bin.

8. From preboarding to onboarding

Lastly, you want to make sure your preboarding process smoothly moves onto an onboarding process that takes your new hire from productive rookie, to established team member, and hopefully to company leader. 

We’ve explored some ways in which the preboarding process reduces costs by reducing employee turnover and boosting productivity. You’ll want to try and move seamlessly from preboarding to onboarding by being clear about who is responsible for both. After the first day, your onboarding process should turn that productivity simmer you’ve built up into a boil; powering up your employees with training, as well as a work environment that’s enjoyable and conducive to top level performance.

Closing

Starting a new job is always going to be stressful for new hires, but it needn’t be for you! With this eight step plan you can make employee preboarding an enjoyable and productive experience all round. 

We’ve seen how the modern talent marketplace puts you at risk of losing new recruits to rival employers, incurring costs from premature employee turnover and slowing speed to productivity. These eight steps demonstrate how to minimise these risks and how to reinforce your employer brand while doing so. 

Remember that happy and productive new employees become long-term investments. At the end of the day, you know what makes you a great employer. Use this process and personalise it to play to your strengths and show the world how great you are to work for before new hires step through the door.