If you’re struggling to attract and retain quality talent, then you know all too well how important employee engagement is. Engaged team members are more likely to stick around longer and perform better than their lesser engaged counterparts. In fact, one study found that engaged employees make 40% fewer mistakes, overall driving 21% more profit for the organization.
But too often, employers wait until a new hire’s first day to begin fostering engagement. The reality is that great employee engagement needs to start well before a new hire even steps foot in the building or logs in for their first day. It needs to start the moment they sign the offer — and that’s where pre-boarding comes into play.
So what exactly is pre-boarding? While onboarding is the process of introducing a new employee to your company and their role after they start, pre-boarding is any engagement that happens during the time period between a signed offer letter and an employee’s first day at your company. This time period varies in length — it could be anywhere between a few days to a month.
Pre-boarding is often overlooked, but it’s a really critical step in the new hire onboarding and engagement process. Most new hires form their opinion about you as an employer during the first few weeks, which ultimately determines how long they’ll stick around. So pre-boarding is your first and often only opportunity to influence that perception. Plus, many job seekers today are applying to 10 or more jobs and they often have more than one offer on the table, so engaging with them right off the bat can be the difference between them honoring their commitment to you or choosing to take another role.
How pre-boarding makes onboarding easier
What does effective pre-boarding look like? Here are four tips for fostering employee engagement before day one:
Get the paperwork out of the way
The pre-boarding period is a great time to send your new hires all of their required employment-related paperwork. This gives them time to put thought into major decisions like benefits elections or 401k contributions. And more importantly, it eliminates the need for them to complete this during their first week on the job, reducing the stress that might come with being forced to do these tasks quickly and freeing up time for them to focus on more important work like training.
Ease their anxiety
Job changes can trigger anxiety for people — especially during that waiting period after they’ve accepted the offer but before their first day. Ease their nerves by providing them with the details they might be worried about, such as: When should they arrive on their first day? What should they wear? What about parking? Should they bring lunch?
Little things like this can occupy someone’s mind and lead them to associate your company with stress, so do your best to provide as much clarification as possible.
There’s no need to wait until the first day for your new hire to get introduced to your team. In fact, the pre-boarding period is a good time to do just that. Send your new hire an email with information about who they’ll be working with, or have team members reach out individually. If your company or team is hosting an event during that time period, you could even invite your new hire to give them an opportunity to meet everyone in person in a low pressure situation. This is a great solution to the above point as well — for a new hire, learning how friendly and welcoming their new team members are can ease some of their first-day jitters.
Although starting a new job can be nerve-wracking for some, for others it’s an exciting life event. As an employer, you should recognize how big of a deal this is for your new hires by sending them small welcome gifts. Does your company offer employees branded sweatshirts, mugs, pens, or other office supplies? Send them over before your new hire’s first day. And of course be sure to send over any items necessary for their jobs (think: uniform or computer). In addition to exciting them, it sends a message that you care about them and it lays the groundwork for their perception of you as an employer.
These may seem like small efforts, but they can really go a long way in fostering the engagement necessary to retain your new hires long-term. It’s those first few weeks that make or break how an employee perceives your company as an employer, and starting off on the wrong foot can be really difficult to overcome. Start building out your pre-boarding process today, so that by the time you make your next hire you’re ready to begin engaging the moment they sign the offer.
Hireology’s all-in-one recruiting, hiring, and employee management platform offers pre-boarding and onboarding tools to help you streamline your new hire processes. Schedule a demo today to learn more.