The labor landscape's upheaval over the past few years has caused companies to change how they view their talent. With a major emphasis now placed on employee retention, particularly in the new age of remote employment, companies have revamped strategies or created new ones entirely to ensure their workforce is happy, fulfilled, and able to engage in personal growth for the long term.
Seamless onboarding protocols have proven to help ensure new hires have positive initial impressions with your company, which improves retention rates within the critical first 90 days of their employment. However, one of the most essential phases of onboarding begins sooner than you may think. This is called 'preboarding.'
In this guide, we'll go over what preboarding is, why it's important, and how you can develop a preboarding program that excites new hires before their first day even begins. Let's get into it!
What is preboarding?
Preboarding is the time between when a job offer is signed and that employee's first day on the job. While the employee may view this period as 'funemployment,' this is when things start to ramp up from the company's perspective. Preboarding aims to keep the new hire engaged with the company, quell any anxieties they have leading up to their first day, and answer any lingering questions they may have post-interviews.
Why is preboarding important?
Around 20% of employees quit their job within their first 45 days. In fact, around one in five new hires never even show up to their first day on the job after signing an offer letter. This, coupled with the different ways companies must engage remote and in-person employees, means that hiring teams must prioritize engagement and retention efforts as soon as they extend a job offer. It is estimated that new hire turnover can cost businesses up to $18,000 per employee. Creating loyalty as early as possible with new hires goes a long way in containing costs down the line and improving overall retention rates.
Radio silence during this crucial period can lead to:
- Distrust between the new hire and the company.
- A lack of clear expectations, leading to confusion and frustration for everybody involved.
- The new hire feeling unwelcome on their first day. Remote hires may feel even more isolated than in-person ones, making preboarding efforts all the more crucial and impactful to their retention.
Effective preboarding programs help new hires feel that they are already part of the team by the time their first day rolls around. This not only facilitates positive impressions of the company and team, but it also shows the new hire that they are valued during a period where retention matters most.
Elements of an effective preboarding strategy
Now that we've established why preboarding is essential, especially for remote hires, let's delve a bit into what makes preboarding successful.
Communication, communication, communication
Nurturing a positive interpersonal relationship in any context requires communication; and preboarding is no exception. This means going above and beyond the usual administrative tasks, such as sending over paperwork and information about benefits. Each hiring situation is different — it could be one week before the new hire starts, or it could be one month. Either way, here are some ideas to keep communication flowing during preboarding:
- Send over some reading material about the company, whether it's recent news releases, upcoming events, or the employee handbook. Let the new hire familiarize themselves with the work you do, internal policies, and how you are generally perceived.
- At some point, you'll need to send over tax forms, benefits package info, and other paperwork. Offer a meeting or video chat to give them an opportunity to ask questions and answer them thoroughly. If the preboarding period is going to last a while, be sure to follow up periodically and ask if any questions have arisen since you last spoke.
- Invite them to a company outing or event. Giving them the chance to meet the team in a more casual, social setting will help them establish solid relationships in a low-pressure environment before they even begin working. This may be more difficult with remote employees, but if you ever have remote happy hours or hangouts, be sure to extend the invitation to the new hire as well.
- Send them a care package. This can include branded swag, a welcome card signed by the rest of the team, and other useful office supplies or remote work tools. It goes a long way in making new hires feel welcome and part of the team before they even start working.
- Prepare a first-day email so they can prepare for onboarding. This should include information such as what to expect on their first day, calendar invitations to training sessions and icebreakers, and other relevant info.
Start Administrative Tasks Early
In addition to sending over the required paperwork, it's a good idea to prepare temporary login info for your company's various accounts and have them ready to go for your new hire's first day.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Company email login
- Slack or other messaging apps
- Video chat
- Project management software
- Company phone systems
- Other relevant proprietary tools
During your preboarding correspondence, be sure to outline all the tools they can expect to use ahead of time and let them know that their accounts are prepared. You can even give them early access to these tools to give them a chance to poke around a bit. This allows the new hire to familiarize themselves with your team's workflow before they begin.
Prepare the rest of your team
Fostering a sense of community with the new hire is your ultimate preboarding goal. But this is a two-way street — the rest of the team must also be prepared to give them a warm welcome. When you announce a new hire to the rest of the team, be sure to include:
- The person's name
- Role and job title
- Start date
- Fun info you've gleaned from the interview process/preboarding about their interests and hobbies