Keeping employees engaged is key for any business to grow and be successful in the long term. Employees who are engaged are the ones who have bought into the values and mission of their employer. They feel valued and listened to. They stay longer with the business. It’s an employer’s role to make sure the processes and support systems are in place to accompany employees on their first day and every day after that.
But the employee experience shouldn’t only begin when a new starter walks in for their first day. The importance of pre-onboarding is becoming clearer as businesses and HR professionals continue to better understand employee engagement levers.
More and more “pre-onboarding” has become a buzz word in the HR Tech industry. But what does it really mean? And how can employers leverage it to increase employee retention and happiness? Let’s take a look at the current situation and best practices for pre-onboarding employees.
When we talk about pre-onboarding, we’re referring to the period of time after a candidate accepts a job offer but before their first day. In some cases – such as with new starters who have extensive notice periods – this can last for several months.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about pre-onboarding is the admin side. Sorting out employment contracts, references, background checks, HR records, etc. While these activities need to happen, there is a lot more to pre-onboarding.
It’s a period of time that presents a unique opportunity for the employer to welcome new hires and introduce them to their future colleagues. It will help make their induction period easier and keep them motivated while they’re working through their probation period.
28% of employees are willing to quit a new job in the first 90 days if they don’t find it satisfactory.
Robert Half & Associates
The time after accepting a job offer can be a weird phase for the new hire. They have to work their notice period. They might be apprehensive about starting a new role and meeting new people. That’s why it’s important that their future employer keeps in touch with them regularly and gives them reasons to be excited about starting their new job. This will pay dividends down the line.
The more onboarding tasks – both admin and social – are completed before a new starter’s first day and the more they can focus on understanding their role right away. It will save them a whole lot of stress and help the employer deliver a superior onboarding experience.
Throughout the pre-onboarding phase the major risk is for the new hire to lose their sense of excitement and eagerness at starting a new job. This is especially true for prolonged notice periods – something common in engineering roles. The future employer and the new hire’s future line manager have to make the effort to stay in touch regularly with the new starter.
The employer should send a welcome package to the hire with some branded items – stickers are always popular – as well as information about the company’s culture and values.
But the most important thing is that the manager communicates with their future report as often as possible. They can send them regular updates about company news, schedule monthly catch-ups to know how they’re getting on, and start teasing the projects that the team is working on. It’s also recommended to share the onboarding process steps with the new starter so that they know exactly what to expect from their first few weeks with their new organization.
Any question or requests by the new hire should also be prioritized to show them that the company and team they’re joining value them and want them to succeed.
Starting a new role almost always means joining a new team. Meeting new people and creating new social relationships can greatly influence how happy and engaged an employee will be. Meeting a lot of new people on the first day just adds stress to an already stressful time. New starters will be worried about remembering faces and names.
That’s why inviting new hires to staff events or team lunches before their first day is a great way to break the ice in a more relaxed environment. The conversations will flow a lot better in a casual setting. Talking with peers is also going to provide new hires with more valuable insights into the company and the role.
The stress of the first day with be greatly reduced when they walk in to be greeted by familiar faces.
As we’ve seen so far, a first-class pre-onboarding experience should include many interactions between the new hire and their future colleagues. These interactions can be in person or over the phone and will be part of a process formalized at organization level.
It’s important for the organization to ensure that these interactions happen to assess the efficiency of their pre-onboarding program. That’s why selecting a pre-onboarding tool with built-in scheduling and tracking capabilities can make the difference between a smooth and rocky experience for the new hire.
This tool should be able to help the managers share their real-time availability with the new hire to schedule regular catch-up calls. It can also be used to schedule one-to-one catch-ups with team members or to ensure that a member of the HR team will be present when the new hire comes in for an admin task.
Overall, great scheduling removes stress as the new hires always know when the next interaction will be. When they can book in their time slots it also puts them in control and reinforces the notion that their employer really cares about their work-life balance.
Providing a great pre-onboarding experience will pay dividends throughout the employee tenure at their new company. It will also ensure that the new hire turns up excited on day one – or in some cases just turns up at all – passes their probation period and becomes a successful, productive and engaged member of the team.
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