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Employee Experience

What Is Preboarding And Why Is It Important?

Written by
Nicky Hoyland

2022 is most definitely the year of the employee. With job vacancies outstripping the number of jobseekers for the first time ever, many organizations are finding attracting and retaining talent increasingly difficult.

As a solution to this, it’s vital now for employers to take a holistic approach to the employee experience. An approach that considers all areas of an individual’s journey and optimises key touchpoints with a view to boosting retention and engagement.

Preboarding is one of those touchpoints of the employee journey that is so often overlooked, and we will explore it in depth over the course of this article.

What is Preboarding?

Preboarding is the time period that elapses between a candidate accepting a job offer and their first day. It is a precursor to the onboarding process, which can extend anywhere between a week to a whole year, depending on the organisation.

Preboarding is an often neglected touchpoint in the employee journey. The majority of organizations feel that during this period, when a soon-to-be employee is working their notice period or preparing to start their new job, there is nothing else that needs to be done besides admin until their contracted start date.

But that is simply not true. A lot can happen in the preboarding stage. For example, a candidate’s current employer might make them a counter offer and persuade them to stay. Or, they may receive another offer from a competitor that is more compelling and decide to jump ship before they’ve even started.

Yet, this stage, along with onboarding, is also when a new hire is most engaged and most excited. So, why on earth wouldn’t you seize the opportunity to make the most of that? Preboarding helps organisations build positive relationships with new employees before they’ve even stepped through the door (virtual or otherwise).

Why Is Preboarding Important?

Maybe you’re wondering why you should bother to develop a relationship with someone who isn’t even on the payroll yet. Nevertheless, laying the groundwork for an excellent employee experience from the get-go can bring a host of benefits in the long run. Here are just some of the rewards that can come from an effective preboarding process:

Reduced New Hire Turnover

New hire turnover unfortunately isn’t a rarity for most organisations. In fact, around 20% of employees leave a new job within their first 45 days of employment. While there are a number of reasons for this, some of the most common include:

  • The job not living up to expectations
  • Poor relationships with managers and/or colleagues
  • Insufficient training
  • Lack of support
  • Poor onboarding

According to Gallup, voluntary turnover costs U.S businesses a trillion dollars every year, with the cost of replacing an individual employee ranging from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. In the UK, the cost of employee turnover based on the average salary is around £11,000 per person, but can be significantly higher for more specialist and senior roles when you factor in training, equipment, benefits packages and other costs.

On the other end of the spectrum, a great employee onboarding experience can improve employee retention by 82%. As such, it makes perfect sense to start that experience early on, in the preboarding stages, striving to be communicative, helpful, and personable with an eye toward enhancing retention of new hires.

Increased Engagement

Just like high turnover, low employee engagement is costly. Very costly. In fact, it is estimated that disengaged employees cost the UK economy £340 billion every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation.

On the other hand, high employee engagement is proven to drive growth, with Gallup’s meta-analysis uncovering that businesses or work units who score highest on employee engagement see 20% higher levels of profitability than units in the lowest quartile.

A thoughtful and effective preboarding process engages new hires. Your onboarding message provides a glimpse into what your company is all about, and it is the first step towards establishing a rapport with the soon-to-be employees that will carry over into their onboarding experience.

A Stronger Company Culture

The first interaction you have with a candidate is kind of like a first date. Both of you want to showcase the very best of what you have to offer and impress the other. For organisations, this includes culture and encompasses your vision, values, practices, people and environment.

It is so important to live and breathe your company culture throughout the employee journey. And preboarding is no different.
In this phase, HR teams and managers can help prepare the new hire for the company culture by instilling a sense of excitement, demonstrating why your company is a unique, dynamic, and exciting place to work, and making sure you do everything you can to ease the transition and reassure your new hire that they made the right choice in accepting your offer.

If you can do this, by the time a person’s first day comes around they will already know what to expect on the culture front. Even better, they will have bought into it and be ready to immerse themselves in it.

A Smoother Transition

Think back to your first day of your job. How did you feel? Excited? Nervous? Apprehensive? Anxious? Uncertain?

Often, these mixed feelings arise because a new employee is not sure what to expect from their first week at a new organisation. They might be wondering what time they should arrive or log in, who they should report to, where they should park, when their new equipment will be delivered or what time they should take their lunch break.

If you can answer these questions, and provide structure and reassurance before they step through the door, you will significantly ease their anxiety and make the transition as smooth as possible.

6 Tips For A Better Preboarding Experience

Now we know what preboarding is and why it’s so important, let’s look at how can you do it better.

The core aims of your preboarding process should be to:

  • Create and maintain a sense of excitement
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Build positive relationships
  • Reinforce your company culture
  • Answer questions
  • Make the transition smoother

With these aims in mind, here are 6 tips to help you create a better preboarding experience for new employees:

Box Off Admin Early

Lots of onboarding processes are admin heavy. While administrative tasks are important and unavoidable, they don’t exactly fill your new hire with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm.

Consider where you can reduce first day admin, and drip feed important information throughout the preboarding process to avoid overwhelm.

For example, you could send over important documents ahead of time, so they aren’t just filling out paperwork for the whole of their first day. You could also begin giving your new hire access to certain systems in advance, such as their email account or your organisations employee experience platform, so you can share the right information with them at the right time in a secure manner.

On top of this, there might be mandatory training a new hire needs to complete as part of their induction. Consider which modules might be appropriate to send over ahead of time as you balance the need to reduce those boring admin tasks so that your onboarding process can focus on more fun elements.

Answer The Important Questions

It’s inevitable that a new employee will have questions ahead of their first day – and you can answer them!

The preboarding stage presents a perfect opportunity to allay any fears, apprehension or anxieties a new member of the team might have. What’s more, technology enables you to answer them more comprehensively without having to mail out a huge, overwhelming welcome pack.

Frequently asked questions you can anticipate and answer ahead of time include:

  • What time should I arrive/log on for my first day?
  • Where do I go when I arrive?
  • Who will welcome me?
  • How do I get into the building?
  • What are my log in credentials?
  • Is there on-site parking?
  • What is the dress code?
  • Do I need to bring anything with me?
  • What will my first day look like?
  • Should I bring lunch?

Pro Tip: HulerHub enables employers to create and securely share Onboarding collections with new employees which include all the information they need to know ahead of their first day including directions to your offices, LinkedIn profiles of team members, places to eat or grab a coffee, parking information, employee handbooks, and onboarding checklists.

Introduce The Team

Fear of the unknown is very real for new starters. They may not know who they are going to be working with, what the dynamic will be, or how they are going to fit in with the bigger picture.

Giving new starters time to acclimatise during the preboarding process will make building relationships with colleagues much easier. You can achieve this by:

  • Sharing the LinkedIn profiles of the team and encouraging them to connect
  • Arranging a meet and greet (in person or virtually) ahead of their first day
  • Sending them a personalised welcome video#
  • Sharing a ‘Who’s Who’ document ahead of time with pictures
  • Asking for a short bio from the new hire to circulate to the team

Focus on helping your team connect and bond with the new employee in advance. Consider how you can make space in the preboarding and onboarding process for them to connect on a human level and get to know one another.

Build Excitement

It’s likely your new hire was buzzing when they received and accepted your offer of employment. And the preboarding stage is your opportunity to build on that excitement.

A great way of doing this is to send ahead some company swag, gifts or a handwritten note ahead of their first day. We all love receiving an unexpected (positive) surprise, and doing something like this can help your new hire feel valued and part of the team really early on.

For remote employees, sending ahead everything they need well ahead of their first day will also instill a sense of excitement, whilst showing them that you are organised, efficient and eager for them to get started.

Prepare Them

All businesses use a pretty heavy tech stack nowadays. This can be overwhelming for new starters, who are expected to get to grips with a multitude of systems and software platforms in a short space of time.

Employee experience platforms, which consolidate all of these disparate tools and applications, can be a very effective way to help them feel more at home with the technology at their disposal, as well as other workflows and processes (such as booking holidays, submitting expenses, etc.)

Pro Tip: Create an external Onboarding collection in HulerHub and include all the need to know information and resources. In their offer letter, or with the employee handbook, send them a QR code linking to this external collection so they can get familiar with your systems ahead of their first day.

Building Better Preboarding Experiences

Preboarding has been long neglected as part of the recruitment and onboarding processes of many organisations. However, the best way to retain your best people is by creating frictionless, exceptional experiences that help foster a sense of belonging, inclusion, and understanding.

The more you can give to new hires before they’re even on the payroll, the more likely you are to create strong relationships with them. When they know what’s expected of them and all their questions are answered, the transition to their new role will be much easier and they’ll be able to get into the onboarding experience without worrying about nerves or having to slog through reams of paperwork before getting to the stuff they’re interested in.

At Huler, we’ve created a platform that can be used to reshape and redefine the most important touchpoints of the employee experience, while increasing productivity and collaboration. To find out more about how HulerHub can be used in your pre-boarding and onboarding processes, book a demo now.

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