Employee onboarding has become a point of pride for many companies. However, it’s not very often that we get to hear people talk about their experience in the period leading up to their first day at work, during the so-called pre-boarding.
That’s actually quite a shame because a stellar employee pre-boarding process can do so much to help your new employee feel supported and confident as they’re beginning their relationship with your company.
Furthermore, you’re getting a lot of preparatory work out of the way and building the foundation for a relaxed and productive onboarding process.
In this article, we’re covering the basics of excellent pre-boarding, so read on and start making your life, as well as the life of your incoming staff, much easier.
Keep the New Hire Excited About Your Offer
In a worker’s market, like the one we’re currently experiencing, employers need to be vigilant and keep a close eye on their workforce so that they don’t quit in search of better opportunities, or worse, get poached by the competition.
That’s common knowledge. However, what many employers don’t realize is that they can also lose employees even before they begin working for them.
A lot can happen in the time between the moment your offer is accepted and the new hire’s first day, so some effort needs to be put in in order to carry the candidate over this sensitive period.
This is one of the main reasons why it’s a good idea to put a pre-boarding process in place.
A good pre-boarding program can help you stay in touch with the candidate and validate their decision to come work for you.
If you’re under the impression that there’s not much to talk about during this time, we’re here to help you get inspired.
For instance, this is a great time to share some company flare and start introducing the new employee to your culture and values. A lot of companies do this by sharing a welcome video, like the one from Zendesk below:
This short video does an excellent job communicating what it’s like to work at the company, without a single word spoken.
Viewing the clip, you’re probably tempted to look up their open positions, so imagine how excited a freshly accepted candidate might be while counting down the days to start working there.
Another great idea is to put the candidate in touch with their future manager or supervisor so that they can contact them with questions and maybe even start some preparatory work for their new job.
This would go a long way to relax the candidate because it removes a lot of uncertainty about the new job and the people the candidate will be working with.
Last but not least, this is a great opportunity to collect some valuable feedback on the recruitment process.
Not only will this show the candidate you really care about their opinion, but it might also provide you with some excellent pointers to make recruitment even more efficient.
All you need to collect quality feedback is a simple online survey, like the one pictured above.
All in all, the pre-boarding period shouldn’t be a time of isolation and silence. It can actually be rather fun and enlightening, getting the candidate excited about joining you at the company.
Help Them With the Paperwork
Another activity that’s perfectly suited for pre-boarding is paperwork.
That’s because filling out forms and signing documents is something a new employee can definitely handle without any supervision, and yet it’s a crucial part of onboarding new employees.
Plus, if you get the majority of the red tape out of the way in advance, you’re freeing up the new employee’s time once they start working for more important things, like meeting their coworkers and getting acquainted with your systems.
As you’re already aware, there’s a lot to get through at this stage, such as:
- Signing contracts
- Filling out HR forms
- Sharing insurance and social security information
- Providing bank account information for payroll
A lot of this workload can be handled through online forms today, which is great because using delivery services takes up a lot of time, and there is some risk involved should the paperwork get lost in transit.
As for the contracts and other documentation that needs to be signed, modern electronic signature software can be of great assistance.
So, see what you can do to handle as much paperwork as possible using digital tools.
That way, you’re not only moving things forward at a faster pace, you’re also taking steps to protect the environment.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to send along your get-to-know-you survey to gather some information about the new hire you didn’t get during the recruitment process.
The information you gather will be very useful once the new recruit starts working at the company. For their part, they will be impressed with how well you know them and their unique needs and values.
That alone is a giant step towards ensuring employee satisfaction and long-term retention.
At this stage, handling the relocation of those employees who need to move to a new city to start working for you is also important.
Many contemporary companies provide assistance with relocation these days.
This is great because it eliminates a lot of stress for new workers who are not only starting a new job, but also adapting to living in a new place.
The Finnish game developer Remedy Entertainment provides an excellent example of how to provide relocation services to new employees.
After the candidate accepts the offer, an assistant at the company is tasked with handling every detail of making their relocation to Finland a breeze.
The assistant takes care of everything from the bureaucracy to finding a temporary apartment for the new recruit and their family.
As you can see, there’s so much you can do during pre-boarding that it’s quite surprising to know so many companies wait until the first week to get all of this procedural stuff out of the way.
This should be enough to convince you that pre-boarding isn’t just good to have—it’s practically a necessity.
Prepare Everything for Their First Day
Coming in on the first day at a new job can be nerve-racking for anyone.
That’s why the best employers out there go out of their way to prepare for the new hire’s arrival and make their first day a pleasant and stress-free experience they’ll remember for a long time.
A good practice to follow here is to create a checklist with essential information and send it to the new hire a day or two before they come into the office.
This quick guide can contain any kind of information you deem necessary, including:
- How to get to the office
- Public transport and/or parking information
- Directions on how to enter the building and office (passes, codes, and so on)
- Dress code at the office
- First point of contact at the office
Even before you introduce this checklist, in the weeks leading up to the first day, it’s also wise to provide your new employee with some more detailed information on how things are done at your company.
Some companies like to do this by compiling a detailed and informative employee handbook.
Handbooks are shared with to the new hire so they can get familiar with the company’s policies, codes of conduct, procedures and products, as well as its structure, key roles and figures.
That’s because documentation software enables users to create detailed, easy-to-navigate knowledge bases and upload them online where they can be accessed by everyone, provided they have the login information.
The basics of human psychology tell us that we get scared and nervous when confronted with the unknown.
So the more elements you can demystify for your new hire as they’re coming in to work for you, the more at ease they’ll feel when they get there.
No one knows this better than Twitter. As you can probably imagine, starting a new job at the social media giant can be quite intimidating.
That’s why Twitter implemented their “Yes to Desk” policy, a 75 touchpoint procedure that begins with offer acceptance and culminates on the first day.
During Twitter’s pre-boarding process, everything is prepared for the new employee’s arrival, down to the type of equipment they will be using and the desk where they will be doing their work.
The recruit is also frequently contacted by all sorts of company personnel prior to starting their job. This includes messages and inquiries from recruitment, HR, IT, and other teams at the company.
The process does an excellent job supporting the new employee and assimilating them completely seamlessly into their new role.
There’s definitely a lot to be learned here, so it might not be a bad idea to take a page from Twitter’s book and prepare as much as you can to welcome a new employee.
Personalize the Welcome Process
One more thing you can do to make a new hire feel special is to personalize the onboarding process.
After all, no one likes to feel like a cog in a machine, so paying attention to the individual characteristics, needs, and values of your incoming staff really matters.
And in the age of virtual hiring and onboarding, personalization is becoming more important than ever.
In a virtual setting, candidates and new employees are finding it increasingly difficult to assess how the company’s values and goals align with their own.
As with all other points in this article, personalizing the welcome process is much easier than it might seem at first glance.
All you need to do is put a little more effort into how you’re contacting your soon-to-be team member.
This can mean sending them a personalized welcome email and an introduction to their future coworkers and supervisors over email or a dedicated Slack channel.
Remember how we talked about get-to-know-you surveys and how valuable they are in making a candidate feel welcome?
Well, this is where they can really help you.
For example, if you sent out a fun survey asking the new recruit about their favorite color and shirt size, among other things, imagine how elated they would be to find a branded hoodie in their favorite color and exact size when they come into work on their first day.
Or better yet, if your survey asks new employees if they are parents, as some do to factor the needs of parents into their employee benefits, you can also send them some cool swag for their kids, like in the example of Squarespace below.
Going a step even further, a lot of companies nowadays use buddy systems to make onboarding more accessible and relaxed.
As a part of this system, new employees are assigned onboarding buddies, ideally their peers from the same team or department, who can induct them into current projects and the culture of the company.
In the pre-boarding stage, getting a warm message from the onboarding buddy would definitely go a long way to relax the new employee and put a friendly face on the company.
To sum up, personalizing the pre-boarding process is an excellent step towards ensuring your relationship with a new recruit starts off on the right foot.
So don’t be afraid to get to know your new employee and show that you value their uniqueness.
Set Them Up for a Successful First Week
With everything set up for the new recruit’s arrival, it’s time to start thinking about what their first week will look like.
The best advice we can give you here is to make it as busy and engaging as possible.
Keep in mind that a new employee simply cannot know what to do and how to contribute of their own accord.
So if you don’t come up with a comprehensive list of tasks and activities for them to engage in, they’ll just end up sitting at their desk, feeling useless and isolated.
To prevent that from happening, use the pre-boarding period to plan an itinerary and a checklist for the first week to ensure the new recruit stays busy for the first week.
Providing a good itinerary is the best thing you can do to make the new employee feel useful and needed.
It’s also a great way to kick off a productive relationship with the employee, as higher engagement at work is closely linked to increased company performance.
If you’re finding it difficult to fill up the new recruit’s schedule for the first week, let’s go over a couple of activities that should definitely appear on the to-do list.
Number one, let’s get the introductions out of the way. You can do this by planning a group event to introduce the new hire.
You can even schedule individual sit-downs with the key figures the employee will be interacting with, such as their supervisor, project manager, heads of other departments, upper management, and so on.
If there’s a lot of faces to meet, you can make your job a lot easier with a handy tool, such as Hypercontext’s meeting scheduling software, which will help you keep track of individual and group meetings.
Secondly, your new hire will have to get acquainted with your tech stack and the resources they’ll be using in their work. So, you can go ahead and schedule some training sessions for the resources the employee hasn’t used before.
The same goes for customer-facing employees who may need to shadow their more experienced peers for a while before they can start working independently.
Finally, along with meeting people and learning about the tools needed for the job, don’t forget to squeeze in some beginner-level tasks, so the new employee can start to contribute to the company.
Remember, it’s important to start with easier tasks and then gradually increase difficulty and responsibility to avoid overwhelming the new recruit and help them learn your work processes at a pace they can handle.
With a strong plan for the employee’s first week, nothing stands in their way towards achieving success as soon as they step foot in the office.
This is extremely important if you want to make a great first impression with your new team member.
We hope this article has shown you just how powerful a stellar pre-boarding process can be when it comes to easing the mind of your new employees and reducing your own workload when it’s time to onboard new recruits.
If there’s one takeaway we’d like to share regarding quality pre-boarding, it’s that frequent communication and going the extra mile to make the transition to a new job easier for your recruits can really make a difference.
So get out there and just talk to your candidates after they’ve accepted your job offer. Find out what they need to achieve success and think of ways to provide it for them even before they show up for work on their first day.