Pre-Board Before You Onboard: How to Increase New Employee Satisfaction

May 2 2024 Posted by Zing Professional in Blog

With turnover a complicated and rising issue for companies, onboarding is the critical first step to developing a positive connection between your company and your new hires. According to a survey by Paychex, 50% of new employees immediately begin to consider quitting, even right after onboarding. For employees who feel undertrained by their onboarding process, that percentage jumps to a shockingly high 80%. If 50% of employees are already considering quitting regardless of the success of your onboarding process, how can you change their perception before they join? That is where pre-boarding comes in.

Pre-boarding is the collection of activities and communications you can have with new employees between when they receive their offer and when their onboarding begins. It is an opportunity to begin telling your organization’s story in a compelling way to build loyalty, trust, and excitement. Pre-boarding creates a bond and positive emotions between the employee and your company that increases productivity and reduces turnover. Per a study by Aberdeen, companies that they identified as best-in-class were 53% more likely to have pre-boarding as part of their orientation. A Columbia University study found that this positive, rich culture leads to a low turnover rate of 13.9%, while companies with a poor culture see their turnover at 48.4%. Let’s look at how you can implement pre-boarding as part of your new hire process to build a positive, stronger culture and team.


Onboarding 101

Onboarding is the logistical process of incorporating a new hire into your company. This process usually begins right before a new hire joins or on their first day and may include filling out paperwork, selecting insurance plans, enrolling in retirement accounts, and receiving computers and other required technology. Onboarding can provide new hires with key information through watching videos or reading materials to learn about the organization and job.

All these activities are necessary for new hires to complete, and this structure is an important process for your HR team. HR designs onboarding to invite information sharing between the company and the new hire. However, it does not create a feeling of excitement and a sense of community. If that element is missing from your onboarding, it is time to look at how pre-boarding can provide that much-needed personal touch.


What is Pre-boarding?

Pre-boarding occurs between the time when an employee signs their contract and when they officially start. At many companies, several weeks elapse between signing on and starting work. The new hire may not hear from their new employer during this time in which case they may begin to regret their decision, change their perception of your company, and develop negative opinions even before they start. Pre-boarding can change all that. Initiating a regular cadence of communication during these weeks keeps new hires in a positive, excited mindset during this transitional time.

Pre-boarding outreach moments bring your company’s culture to the new hire before they even begin. Feeling a part of the community helps reassure them that they made the right choice and increases their satisfaction down the road. According to a Paychex survey, 52% of employees felt let down during their latest onboarding process. Pre-boarding can prevent that ‘let down’ and instead builds up employee’s expectations through personalized strategies and communications.


How to Implement Pre-Boarding

Pre-boarding can take many different forms depending on your workforce, HR team, and company culture, but we have identified a few trends that can help you build the ideal pre-boarding process.


Communication is Key.

First, silence is the enemy. Do not disappear from your employee’s inbox after they have signed their employment contract. Instead, a regular calendar of emails makes them feel like they are already a part of your organization. Personalize these communications so they are even more meaningful and impactful.

You can start with an email from the new employee’s direct supervisor or the hiring committee welcoming them to the organization and build up to a larger email introducing the new hire to their team or the organization at large. You may also incorporate a call to action for other employees to reach out directly to the new hire. For a more structured approach, HR can send individual introductory emails between the new hire and select employees whom they will be working closely with. The new hires can begin building relationships and connections before day one.

Establishing relationships can extend beyond email. If an employee is remote, HR can connect them with others in their region. They can meet up in-person as a group or one-on-one to get to know each other. Giving your current employees a stipend to use can be a helpful strategy to ensure these in-person get-togethers happen.

If an employee works out of an office, you can invite them to come to the office for lunch before they begin. Introduce new hires to their team, their boss, and other co-workers so they can see what life will be like when they start work.


Build Trust in Your Culture

Pre-boarding is the time to bring your company’s unique culture to your new hires, building trust, excitement, and loyalty amongst new hires, and reducing future turnover and negative sentiments.

A surprise gift of company swag, such as a branded t-shirt, water bottle, or notebook, builds a new hire’s pride in their next organization. Branded items help make your organization a visible part of your new hire’s life.

Beyond branded items, establishing relationships builds culture. A buddy/mentor system immediately incorporates the new hire into the culture. Set up all new employees with a mentor or buddy to answer their questions and talk with them in advance of their start date. A buddy or mentor can discuss topics a new hire may be hesitant to talk about with HR, such as dress code, cultural norms, and team culture.


Bringing Pre-Boarding to Your Organization 

Pre-boarding sets up your new hires for success. A standardized, yet personalized, cadence of communications coupled with culture-building activities keeps new hires in a positive, energized mindset before they even get to their first day of work.

These activities reduce turnover for new hires, but also keep your existing employees feeling a part of the new hire process, thus building a stronger culture across the whole organization.

Building a best-in-class pre-boarding system is key to facilitating a successful, and long, tenure at your company. To ensure you have the best talent, partner with Zing Recruiting. Zing Recruiting has over 35 years of experience connecting businesses with talented professionals in highly regulated industries such as specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, medical device, and financial services. Get in touch today.