New Hire Pre-Onboarding Process: Why not to wait until Day 1

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3 mins, 48 secs read time

Most of us can remember that awkward feeling of being the new kid. That moment when you walked into the classroom or cafeteria, heart pounding, stomach in knots, searching for a friendly face and wondering how you’d gotten yourself into this conundrum in the first place.

While classrooms and cafeterias may be in our past, as adults, we go through the same thing every time we join a new company. We have those moments of self-doubt and discomfort during our first days and weeks in a new environment.

It’s no wonder, then, that Bersin by Deloitte found that a significant portion of employee turnover—22%—occurs during the first 45 days on the job. People enter a new environment, feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, and promptly choose to leave.

Luckily, there are several things employers can do to welcome new hires and try to minimize those awkward moments as much as possible. Onboarding programs allow companies to boost employees’ time to productivity and retention, and pre-boarding sets the stage for that experience.

What is pre-boarding, and why should it be an essential component of your onboarding program? Read on to find out!

What is pre-boarding?

Pre-boarding is the process of making use of the time between when a candidate signs an offer letter and when they begin their first day at your company.

You can capitalize on this time by sharing information about your office and policies, taking care of logistics like tax and legal paperwork, prepping new hires for what to expect once they begin, and maybe even surprising and delighting them a bit.

Here are the benefits of pre-boarding:

1. It eliminates first-day jitters for new hires.

One main reason first days are so nerve-racking is that there’s so much uncertainty. They’re in an unfamiliar environment and have a lot of questions: Where are the bathrooms? How does the coffee machine work? What should they do for lunch?

By putting together a list of FAQs and sharing them with new hires before their first day, you help ease their anxiety. You show them that you’re being thoughtful about their first experiences, and you can also use this as on opportunity to introduce their point of contact (generally someone from your People Team, but it could also be your office manager if you’re in a smaller company). This means they’ll arrive at the office feeling confident and having a better idea about who to address their questions to. Empowering new hires with information makes them much less likely to second-guess their decision to join your company.

2. It gets administrative tasks out of the way.

Most people arrive at a new job feeling excited and ready to get down to business. The only problem is that much of their first day is spent filling out paperwork like tax forms, NDAs, invention get the picture.

But if someone has already committed to working with you by signing your offer letter, you can send the new hire these documents right away and ask them to sign on their own time. If you’re already delivering and accepting electronic offer letters, sending tax forms and legal paperwork shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

By taking care of these administrative tasks ahead of time, you free up the new hire’s schedule on their first day and allow them to focus on other, more meaningful tasks, like getting to know their new team members and learning more about their new role.

3. It helps managers provide a better experience to their direct reports.

If you’re managing a new hire, you want to make sure that you start your relationship off on the right foot, and that means putting some thought into their first day beforehand. Employees want to feel like they’re making a positive contribution to your company as soon as possible, and pre-boarding helps facilitate faster ramp time by answering their questions and taking care of administrative tasks before they even set foot in the office.

In her recent white paper, “How to Understand the ROI of Investing in People,” our VP of People & Strategy Maia Josebachvili relayed that a better onboarding program—one that encompasses pre-boarding, new hire experience, and training—can decrease an employee’s ramp time by 30%. Further, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%, according to Brandon Hall Group.

Clearly, pre-boarding is not just for giving new hires a great experience; it also has major impact on the business. It’s time for you to invest in pre-boarding!

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.