Onboarding: The Importance of Preboarding

Onboarding: The Importance of Preboarding

by on 25 Oct, 2018

In our previous blog post, we discussed the importance of employee onboarding, and some of the benefits it can bring to a business. In addition, we debunked some common myths surrounding onboarding, including the belief that onboarding only happens during the new hire’s first few days or weeks on the job. Many employers hold this view, but a truly effective onboarding program is one that extends throughout the new hire’s first year, with checkpoints at regular intervals. In addition, onboarding that starts on the first day on the job should be considered late, as the process should really start the second the new hire accepts the job.

The period of time between when a new hire accepts the job and when they actually start is a very commonly overlooked period, but it is very important. Failure to communicate with the new hire during this period can leave room for the new hire to have doubts and question their decision to accept the job. In some instances, new hires may even change their minds during this period and accept a different job offer or fail to show up on the first day.

Employers can combat this by establishing a formal pre-boarding process, or a series of steps that they will take to get the new hire feeling prepared and excited by the time they show up for their first day.

Potential Steps of a Pre-boarding Program Include

  • Having the new hire’s manager send them a welcome note.

    All new hires should receive some sort of communication from the company prior to their first day reminding them what time to arrive, what to expect, and so on. Receiving a note specifically from their direct manager, however, can really help set the stage for the new hire to begin forming a positive relationship with their manager before they even start working. One study showed that while most people feel that receiving communications prior to the first day helped them feel prepared, 49.5% did not receive any sort of welcome message from their manager.
  • Giving the new hire access to the employee portal. For companies that have an online employee portal, it is helpful to provide the new hire access to that portal before their first day. This will give the new hire a chance to get acclimated to the portal, and it also provides an opportunity for the employer to present relevant information to the new hire. When a new hire logs into the employee portal, they can receive access to a variety of content that will help them feel ready for their first day, including first-day information, welcome messages from teammates, a copy of the employee handbook, and more.
  • Providing information about required forms. Many employers will have new hires fill out necessary forms such as the W-4 on the first day on the job, but giving new hires access to these forms before the first day can help to ease some of the stress. In fact, employers with online portals have the option of having new hires fill out paperwork through the portal, which allows for a more efficient and seamless collection and filing of employee forms.
  • Providing information about benefits options and enrollment. Many new hires are very eager to hear about their benefit options and start the process of enrollment as soon as possible, but many employers are failing to provide the guidance needed in a timely manner. Research has found that 55.2% of employers surveyed failed to engage new hires in one-on-one conversations about their benefits options. Furthermore, 39.8% of new hires surveyed said they prefer to make benefits decisions before their first day on the job. Giving new hires some information about their benefits options and even giving them the chance to start the process of enrollment before the first day can help to ease some of their stress.

Many of these steps could be considered part of a “new hire checklist”, but pre-boarding should go beyond simply shifting typical first-day activities to before the new hire’s start day. Pre-boarding is also essential in building the new hire’s excitement and morale before they show up on the first day. Making a point to send personalized messages and showcase that the company is excited to welcome the new hire will make a good impression and instill confidence in the new hire, making them feel as though they made the right decision in accepting the job.

This post is part of a series on onboarding. Check out the other posts in the series:

Onboarding: Benefits and Myths

Onboarding: First Day Best Practices

Onboarding: Going Beyond Orientation

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Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.

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