What is Pre-boarding?

The recruitment process can be a stressful and testing time for not only the candidate but your team, too. So, when you’ve finally got to the end of it and the dream candidate has accepted their job offer, suffice to say that there’s an overwhelming feeling of relief.

But an accepted offer doesn’t mean it’s time to completely relax; there’s still plenty of pre-boarding work to be done.

Pre-boarding is the period of time between an employee accepting a job offer and their first day. It focuses on engaging and making a new hire feel welcome and part of the team from the moment an offer is accepted.

It’s very similar but different to onboarding, which is the period between a new employee’s very first day on the job and the end of their induction into the company.


Why Pre-board Employees?

It’s very naïve to assume that just because an offer has been accepted, the candidate is a safe bet; candidates are applying to more jobs than ever before.

This makes it much more likely that a candidate who’s the perfect fit for your organization might still be tentatively applying for more jobs, lining up interviews, and waiting for other offers even after they have formally accepted a job offer from you. Think about it: if a candidate is a perfect fit for you, they’re probably the perfect fit for your competitors. And more often than not, the best candidates are weighing up multiple offers.

Creating an outstanding preboarding process that bridges the gap between an offer being accepted and the new hire’s first day is therefore just as important as—if not more important than—delivering a stellar onboarding process to your new hires, especially when it comes to things like new hire retention and performance.

Preboarding gives offer holders a positive introduction to the organization and helps to minimize the risk of a candidate accepting a job offer and then pulling a U-turn later on.  


What are the Benefits of Pre-boarding?

There are several benefits to a thorough pre-boarding process, including:


1. Quell First Day Nerves

New hires are naturally nervous on their first day; starting a new job is stressful. These nerves aren’t helped by the fact that most new hires dread their first day not only because it involves being introduced to a new and unknown working environment, but also because of how much of a laborious, paperwork-filled, and unwelcoming disaster it can be. And with 4% of employees quitting after a bad first day, it’s something you really want to get right.

When you plan ahead properly and focus on what’s important, pre-boarding can help make your new hire’s first day a positive and memorable experience. The first day should be focused on encouraging a new hire to meet and start building relationships with colleagues. This helps new hires feel involved and valued from the get-go. For the most part, filling out paperwork, signing forms, and mandatory e-learning can come later.


2. Immediately Builds Employee Loyalty

Right now, employee engagement is a massive pain point for organizations that are still working remotely. It’s therefore important that you use the valuable pre-boarding time to engage and excite your new hires before their first day.

This can make a world of difference when it comes to the amount of loyalty a new hire feels towards your organization. With the right pre-boarding and outreach process, you begin building relationships with new hires immediately and get them excited to dive into their new roles.


3. Helps Prevent Employee Turnover

Even if a new hire follows through with their offer acceptance and starts working for your organization, they’re not guaranteed to stay; employee turnover is a real and ever-present challenge.

However, employee retention can be increased thanks to the sense of belonging, identity, and inclusion that a solid pre-boarding process immediately instills in your new hires—studies have shown that employees are 50% less likely to quit if they feel like they belong.

Other research has also shown that employees who have had a negative pre-boarding and/or onboarding experience are twice as likely to start looking for other job opportunities.


5 Pre-boarding Best Practices

Now that you know why pre-boarding is important and have an idea of the benefits, here are some best practice tips for how you can create your own pre-boarding process:


1. Let Your Culture Shine Through

Your new hire probably accepted your offer because they liked what they saw, so use the pre-boarding process to let your positive culture shine through and reinforce this experience.

Not only does this show to your new hire that your organization sticks to its promises and wasn’t putting on a show during the hiring process, but it also gives them a better idea of what to expect and something to look forward to for when they start their new role.

Now is also a great time to ask your new hire for feedback on the recruitment process. This goes a long way in strengthening that positive impression and demonstrating that you’re an organization that cares about its employees.


2. Offer to Help with the Paperwork

There’s a whole lot of paperwork and bureaucracy involved in recruiting a new hire—and nobody enjoys it! There is information to exchange, forms to sign, accounts to set up, and company processes and policies to get familiar with.

Offering to help your new hire with this, rather than piling them with paperwork and making a dash, is something that your new hire will thank you for.

For example, you could offer to help your new hire with setting up their email account by inputting their information, getting folders ready, and creating a personalized email signature. This way, it will be ready for them well ahead of their first day on the job.


3. Assign Them a ‘Buddy’

To help your new hire assimilate better and feel more like a part of the team, you should pair them up with a workplace buddy. This person should be somebody who is an experienced member of the wider team but not somebody who works directly with the new hire on their team, nor should it be a manager or supervisor.

This buddy is effectively your new hire’s first friend outside of their team and will be tasked with helping them get to grips with not only their role but also the social and non-work side of things by staying in regular contact.


4. Share Your Organizational Chart

Your organizational chart forms a major part of the onboarding process, but it can (and should) also be part of the pre-boarding process. Sharing your organizational chart early on enables a new hire to find out more about who they will be working with.

A new hire can also use your org chart to learn about your internal reporting structure and where they fit in, rather than winging it and finding things out as they go.

With organizational chart tools like Organimi, you can even include custom fields on your org chart (e.g., where employees can list things like their hobbies, interests, and favorites) which gives your new hire a glimpse into their colleagues’ personalities.


5. Tell Your Team About the New Hire

Even in smaller organizations, it’s wise to assume that not everyone will be in the loop and know a new hire is incoming. To avoid awkward introductions and questions of “who’s that?”, keep your team in the loop and notify them of the new hire, i.e., via email or slack, and share the basics like their name, a photograph, and what role they will be taking on.


Ready to Build Your Own Pre-boarding Process?

A well-planned pre-boarding process keeps new hires engaged and gets them excited for their first day on the job.

By including it in your overall recruitment strategy, you help to solidify the positive experiences that led to your new hire accepting the job offer and reduce the chances of them taking up a different offer before they start working with your organization.