How to pre-onboard your employees like a pro

Vedran Ismaili on

Does your new hire orientation include pre-onboarding? Wait, what is it that even?

When it comes to inducting, introducing and making sure your new employee feels welcome and acquainted, most organisations start from Day 1.

The start of a great employee relationship actually begins even before someone accepts a job offer. And there is a tremendous opportunity to solidify and create a stronger relationsship to each employee by addressing their recruitment, retention and productivity challenges by leveraging pre-onboarding.

It is much like priming and prepping as you would for a date or decorating your house. Apply the layers, set the scene, splash on the cologne, prepare for a good first impression… hopefully that paints the right message (pun intended :)). If you want a perfect result or ROI from your employee, you have to put in the work. It’s a value exchange.

Giving someone a sense of the company’s values and morals, its way of being, can pave the way for strengthened relationships, commitment and an excited and motivated employee right from the get-go.

Vana, an HR resourcing company summarise it well, “It’s where first impressions are created. It’s also where there’s a risk that new hires might start having second thoughts if it’s a poor or anticlimactic experience that doesn’t reflect the employee value proposition (EVP) they were sold at the outset. Therefore companies need an effective ‘pre-onboarding’ approach that becomes part of their overall employee experience strategy.”

It’s a good exercise to remember, if you think back to your previous employers and their approach. Like most, you’ll probably have received a stock-standard offer of employment and your contract in the post. And that was it until your first day. No outreach or sense of the company and its culture until you arrive, only to be overwhelmed by intros, faces and shed load of paperwork on Day 1. And Day 1 alone.

That is, unless you’re in Generation Z, as you embark on your journey of employment, you’re now part of a digitally advanced, sophisticated environment where companies will expend a lot more energy and cool orientation programs (check out our post on ‘The gold standard of employee onboarding)

Effective onboarding programs are now ideally stretched out over a period of 60-90 days.

What are the key benefits of a pre-onboarding program?

Reduce number of early quitters: By setting a precedent and showing your commitment (in your business relationship with them) from the very beginning, their desire for wanting to show up and stay just as committed long-term will pay off.

Better time to productivity: by acquainting them sooner rather than later, they can their ‘hands dirty’ with real projects and tasks sooner instead of being focused on filling out paperwork and trying to learn their way around the company.

Happy, healthy employees: With pre-onboarding, already you will reduce any anxieties or second thoughts, an employees well being will be sustained and your act of early outreach, emulates very strong values about the company and is a conversation starter.

Stay competitive: by disrupting your own traditional onboarding practices, introducing pre-onboarding sets a whole different tone and adds competitive advantage confirming that your company is real excited about a new employee and shows it. Not many companies commit to it just yet, so be an early adopter and make a real change, before another company steals your talented employees.

How do I get started?

The Netflix’s and Google’s of this world (who are able to send new laptops and host fancy pre-starter breakfast workshops) do indeed set inspiring ways. Material sent to new joiners is designed to be as engaging and it is comprehensive – something which has seen Google improve employee onboarding results by 25%. But your company doesn’t have to splash the cash to make it happen.

Just as plants grow, relationships blossom and get stronger through continues nurturing, the orientation program should span out over a longer period of time to enhance employee experience, their productivity and satisfaction levels. But it really does begin with that first impression and a genuine interest in helping the employee get the best possible start. And it can take time to build but even starting out small can go a very long way. Nourish to flourish they say.

Some examples include making sure, some fantastically designed materials or presentations land in a new hire’s email before they start, such as:

Meet the team: via video’s or bios Give them an overview: of the company’s heritage, products, services, what it’s like to work for them (employee videos, testimonials etc)

Send a survey: Ask them what they want (equipment, special requests etc), what they expect and get a further sense of who they are, personality type etc. This will help them feel valued as well as assessing their strengths, how they work and how you can better manage them.

Advance slack them: if your team uses these comms or project tools, you can invite them to join before they start! That way they can be introduced to the team asap and help them get a sense of what current priorities are and to join the conversation on an informal basis.

These are just some ideas that take little time and don't cost much. You can also check out our more comprehensive downloadable new hire checklist here

Vedran Ismaili

Co-founder & CEO - chatbot builder, optimist and rookie skateboarder.