Most experienced recruiters have a story about a new hire that fell through at the last minute. It typically goes: an offer was extended, the candidate enthusiastically accepted and then abruptly quit before their first day. The bad news usually comes in the form of an email where you learn the candidate is accepting another offer or staying at their current job.
There are many reasons this happens but the long lapse in communication between a candidate accepting the job and their start date doesn’t help. New hires often have weeks, or even months, to seek out a better offer or second guess their decision to work for your company.
It’s up to you and your team to keep up the excitement established with the candidate during the interview phase. You can accomplish this by pre-boarding your new hires – or welcoming and preparing them to join your company before their first day of employment.
In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of pre-boarding and provide some ideas for welcoming and preparing new hires.
Pre-boarding versus On-boarding
Simply put, pre-boarding is engaging with a new hire between the time they accept your offer and their first day.
It’s a fairly new concept that often gets confused with the traditional on-boarding process most of us have experienced when starting a new job. However, there are a couple distinct differences:
- Pre-board starts and is completed before an employee’s first day. On-boarding starts on the employee’s first day
- In addition to common on-boarding exercises, pre-boarding can include informal interactions between the company and the new hire.
Pre-boarding: On-boarding that’s more fun
Let’s look at the second difference in more depth. On-boarding a new employee usually consists of adding them to payroll, enrolling them in the benefits program, setting them up with a computer and email account and briefing them on the employee handbook. The objective is to tie up all the loose ends so the new hire can get right to work.
Many common on-boarding tasks can be accomplished during the pre-boarding process. Having your new hire complete tax and benefits forms a week before their first day will save even more time when they come into the office. However, pre-boarding isn’t just about completing a new hire checklist. The goal is to make your soon-to-be employee feel welcome and introduce them to the team and culture they’ll soon be joining. You want to quell any uncertainty they feel so they’re up to speed and excited when they come in for day one.
For example, your pre-boarding process can consist of asking your new hire to complete important forms and sending a company-wide introductory email. Everyone can respond with a personalized welcome so the new hire can build a rapport with their coworkers right away.
Inside the mind of a new hire
When someone interviews with your company, they’re likely applying to other companies too. If you make an offer, the candidate can accept it and feel content knowing they’ve accomplished their goal of finding a new job. Or they can go to their other interviews – or even their current employer – with your offer in hand and see if it can be topped.
However, not everyone who reneges on an accepted offer is this ambitious. Some people get excited during the interview stage, feel great when they get an offer and impulsively accept. But doubt can set in as their first day approaches. What if I’m making the wrong decision? Do they really want me or are they settling on me? Is the boss a jerk? Aw shucks, maybe I won’t quit my current job after all.
Pre-boarding prevents ambivalence
In the case of the zealous job seeker, pre-boarding can solidify their commitment to your company. Getting a company email address and meeting their coworkers can make them feel like they’re officially part of team. On the other hand, a complete lack of communication allows the new hire to feel as if nothing is yet set in stone and they’re free to seek out an even better offer.
And of course pre-boarding helps curb any uncertainty and nervousness a new hire might feel. Receiving a warm welcome shows the company does indeed want them and the boss probably is a good person. Changing jobs is a major life decision but even a small gesture can make a person feel that they’re making the right move.
Pre-boarding lays the groundwork for day one
Another advantage of pre-boarding is it helps prepare an employee for their first day. They can come into the office and already be familiar with the team, culture and way the business operates. Instead of spending the day getting a tour of the office and meeting with HR, your new hire can instead get right to work.
Pre-boarding examples: How to say hello
Pre-boarding is all about prepping your new hire, as well as drumming up excitement as their first day approaches. How you welcome them depends on your company culture and how creative you want to be. Here are some pre-boarding examples that go beyond the typically company-wide email introduction:
- Schedule a lunch for the new hire, their manager and the team they’ll work with. They can meet and converse with everyone in a casual setting.
- If a lunch isn’t practical, schedule a video call for the new hire and their team. It’s more formal but still gives everyone the opportunity to meet.
- Send the new hire some company swag. If they mentioned their family during the interview, include items for their spouse and kids too.
- If your company hosts a weekly happy hour or other social events, invite the new hire to attend.
- After the offer is accepted, schedule an office tour for the new hire. They can come back in more relaxed knowing they’ve already landed the job.
Pre-boarding is an effective way to introduce new hires to your company and culture. Staying in touch with a future employee after they accept your offer helps prevent no-shows and sets them up to hit the ground running on day one.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog post “From “Yes” to Desk: How to Pre-board a New Hire”