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Employee onboarding

How Pre-onboarding Helps HRs Engage New Hires From Day One

Organizations pay a lot of attention to creating an effective employee onboarding process. However, companies often overlook the period from when the candidate accepts the offer till they join the company.

Studies have shown that almost one-fourth of the new hires who agree to join the company do not show up on their first work day. It could be because of either of the reasons: better offers, a changed mind, or nervousness about joining a new workplace.

It is now more critical than ever to keep your recruits excited and engaged before they even show up to work, or else you will lose on them even before they join! Pre-onboarding is imperative to keep new employees engaged before Day 1 in the organization.

What is pre-onboarding?

Pre-onboarding refers to engaging new employees as soon as they sign your job offer until their first working day. It is an excellent opportunity for the organizations to alleviate the fears new hires might have, provide the tools to get started faster, and ultimately make them feel welcome and valued.

An effective pre-onboarding strategy can also streamline the onboarding process and prepare employees to handle duties on their first day. 

Difference between pre-onboarding and onboarding

Pre-onboarding is often confused with the onboarding process. Some companies even use them interchangeably or focus only on creating an employee onboarding program. However, there are apparent differences between the two:

  • Overview: Pre-onboarding happens when the candidate accepts your offer and continues until their first day. On the other hand, onboarding starts from the day new hires walk into your organization and clock in. 
  • Objective: While pre-onboarding aims to prepare new employees and create excitement towards their new role, onboarding helps recruits acquaint themselves with the company culture, physical layout, and team members.  
  • Activities: Pre-onboarding activities include adding recruits to the different groups on various collaboration tools, setting up their account in HRIS (human resource information system), collecting their necessary documents, sending a welcome gift, and more, while the onboarding process involves assigning a mentor or buddy to new hires, providing them training, setting up their workspace, giving them office tours, and more. 

Why pre-onboarding matters

Here are some benefits of making pre-onboarding a part of your recruitment process: 

Eliminates jitters

Joining a new company can be nerve-wracking for employees, especially when they do not know what to expect. New hires are in an unfamiliar situation with tons of questions in mind. For instance, how is my manager? How do the team members treat new employees? Where should they have lunch and a lot more?  Pre-onboarding helps new employees eliminate these fears and prepares them for work.

Gets administrative tasks out of the way

The first day at work is primarily spent filling out paperwork like tax forms, NDAs, benefits, and insurance forms. However, you can take care of these tasks ahead of time by sending new hires documents as soon as they sign your offer letter. That way, you can free up new employees’ time on the first day and allow them to spend time with the team members and learn about their new roles.

Creates a connection

The way you welcome your new hires in your organization can make or break their entire experience. You want to ensure your recruits do not ghost you on the first day and stick around for longer. Pre-onboarding, if done right, can make this possible. Frequent communication even before the employee comes to the office strengthens their connection with the company and keeps them excited about their new job.

Increases employee referrals 

If you provide a positive pre-onboarding experience to employees, they spread positive word of mouth about your organization, boosting your chances of attracting top talent. It can also give you an edge over your competitors during hiring waves, like spring graduation or before an expansion.

How to create the perfect pre-onboarding strategy?

Now that you know the significance of pre-onboarding, here is how you can create an effective pre-onboarding strategy for your new hires:

1. Identify the key steps

Identify the crucial steps or activities you want to include in your pre-onboarding process while welcoming new employees. These activities are often similar for all recruits, irrespective of their job roles, position, location, etc.

Activities include introducing new hires to your company vision and mission, having them fill out necessary documents like NDA, invention agreements, and tax forms, collecting salary payslips, providing the first-day schedule, sharing the employee code of conduct, and more.

2. Get an HR tool for pre onboarding

Setting up a pre-onboarding process requires the involvement of HR, a team member, the corresponding manager, and even the founders. Notifying multiple members or groups of their responsibilities is even more challenging. A pre-onboarding tool is a nimble solution in such scenarios.

Using smart pre-onboarding software works great in helping new talent acquaint themselves with their new workplace. It comes in handy when multiple people join your organization simultaneously – the repetitive tasks get automated. Plus, it ensures they have all the necessary information they need in one place.

3. Start automating

Automation in pre-onboarding

While pre-onboarding automation can sound impersonal, it can streamline the overall experience. So, the new recruits can feel welcomed and better informed. Once you mark a recruit as hired in your HR system, you can use an automation platform to trigger off the following actions before their first day: 

  • Sending the offer letter 
  • Back-and-forth follow-ups 
  • Introducing them to the role and team members 
  • Creating their profile in your HRIS
  • Sending a welcome email 
  • Setting up their account in an IT service management system

4. Include a survey in your pre-onboarding 

When a new employee joins the office, pre-onboarding plays a vital role in determining whether the relationship between employee and employer will be successful and whether or not the recruits feel engaged. 

It is normal to make mistakes when implementing a pre-onboarding strategy for the first time. However, conducting surveys is critical to creating a well-functioning process that allows new hires to start their new role successfully.

During this phase, conducting automated employee surveys helps HR professionals understand the perspective and sentiments of new hires about the company and their expectations from the workplace. Besides, the surveys help improvise your current pre-onboarding process.

5. Identify your primary KPIs & metrics 

Implementing a pre-onboarding process is not enough. It is equally important to determine how it is affecting your new hires.

HR metrics & KPIs play a crucial role in measuring the effectiveness of a pre-onboarding strategy. It ascertains new employees have the required information and tools to get started quickly on their job roles.

Identifying relevant pre-onboarding metrics is essential for creating a top-notch pre-onboarding experience. These will help you understand how employees feel about your company, behavior trends, and how your pre-onboarding can be improved. Some key metrics include new hire satisfaction levels, employee happiness, number of drop-offs, retention levels, and more.

What are the best practices for pre-onboarding? 

Here are a few pre-onboarding ideas to create a great first impression among your new hires and start your relationship off right: 

Send a company swag

New employees feel great when they receive company goodies, also known as swag, to wear or use. A company swag is a workplace benefit that attracts new talents and makes them feel accepted. It will make your pre-onboarding process memorable and something the recruits share with others.

There is no fixed rule for creating a welcome package. Whatever you design, make sure it falls within your budget and reflects the tone and culture of your company. Some options include t-shirts, employee handbooks, office supplies, vouchers/coupons, snacks, mugs, etc.

Request feedback for your hiring process 

There is no better source of getting insights about your hiring process than your new employees. Asking for feedback allows you to get first-hand reviews to help you improve your pre-onboarding process. Plus, it marks the transition of a new hire from a candidate to a team member and makes them feel valued and encouraged to make an impact.

The survey contains a combination of close-ended questions (such as true/false questions) and open-ended questions (beginning with why, how, and what). It can provide HRs with quantitative data and detailed personal experience of new hires to improvise their pre-onboarding strategies and hiring process.  

Answer their questions 

The new hire has a plethora of questions about their role and company on the first day. During this time, clearing all their doubts can go a long way in easing their stress. The sooner you do it, the more effective it is.

It avoids miscommunication and job ambiguity and prepares new hires for their first working day. HRs can develop new-hire FAQs across the departments, such as: 

  • What are the working hours?
  • What is the dress code?
  • What equipment and supplies should I bring? 
  • Where do I park my vehicle? Where is the front door?
  • Where do I direct questions?
  • Is there an office canteen?

Assign them a welcome buddy 

The employee onboarding process involves pairing the new hire with a welcome buddy. But, why should you wait until they come to the office? As soon as the candidate accepts the job offer, introduce the two parties and get the process started.

Welcome buddy should be someone who is neither on their team nor their manager. Further, the welcome buddy should check in with the new hire via email, Zoom, or Slack to know how things are going and get to know them outside of work.

The goal here is to take some burden off HR’s back while also allowing the new employees to feel comfortable since they will already know someone on their first day.

Account signups 

Pre-onboarding is the perfect time for new hires to sign up for all the HR, training, information-sharing, communication, and project management tools they require on the job. Remote offices need many such tools that require various usernames and passwords.

To simplify it for candidates, make a checklist of essential accounts, such as Slack, Notion, Trello, or Asana. Also, create a company email account for the new employee and give them access to sign up on the necessary applications.

Have them make a personalized introductory video

Encourage your new employees to form a great first impression through a personalized introductory video. HRs can share this video with new employees’  current team members so they can know about the recruit beforehand. 

Here are a few things new hires can talk about in the video: 

  • Their background 
  • Their role 
  • Their hobbies 
  • Who were their previous employers? 
  • Interesting facts about them, such as favorite books, and movies.

This practice acts as a conversation starter amongst your new and existing employees. 

However, inform them about certain rules for recording a video. For example, the video should not be longer than 60 seconds and can include photos, fun facts, etc.

Send a welcome email 

The first day can be overwhelming for the candidates. From meeting team members to filling out forms- there is a lot to be done. So, before new hires start working in your organization, send them a welcome email on behalf of the hiring manager or even your company founder. 

Add the first-day schedule, what to wear, working hours, and calendar invites to introductory meetings, onboarding sessions, team building sessions, and lunches in the mail.

It eases new hires’ first-day jitters and doubts while knowing what their first day will look like. Also, ensure the tone of your email is warm, approachable, and aligns with the company culture. 

Inform your team 

Do not assume that your team knows about the new hire. To avoid questions like who is that, get your team members on the same page for a warm welcome. You can share the news via email or Slack message to the entire company.

In the announcement, mention the employee’s name, photo, job role, start date, personalized intro, and why you should be excited to have them on your team. If your organization is large and continuously hires new talent, these announcements can get old fast. So, it is better to notify only the new employee’s direct team.

However, avoid sharing the news too far in advance so that they forget about the new hire’s arrival. Inform a few days earlier to give the team time to prepare for the warm welcome.

Automating pre-onboarding with AI

A welcoming pre-onboarding process not only reduces the chances of new hires not showing up on the first day of work but also marks the beginning of a long-lasting relationship between the new employees and your organization. Hence, creating an automated pre-onboarding process is needed to start that relationship right.

Pre-onboarding automation refers to streamlining workflows and creating an environment where new employees bring their true value to the table, without wasting time on repetitive tasks. Its implementation involves a platform that triggers an action that launches all the following steps. 

Pre-onboarding automation can tackle a plethora of tasks, such as: 

  • Sending the schedule emails to candidates — welcoming them to the team
  • Asking them to fill out a questionnaire that collects their administrative and personal information, equipment preferences, etc.
  • Sharing contact details of the concerned HR manager or a team member
  • Sharing a to-do list of their first day at work
  • Informing the team about the new arrival with essential information (name of the new employee, date of arrival, department, position) 
  • Setting up their accounts in HRIS and an IT service management system
  • Pairing them with a welcome buddy
  • Providing them a platform to raise tickets for their queries with the company’s HR team
  • Giving them access to a self-service portal for resolving their general queries around policies and other processes
  • Sending them a survey to gather feedback on the pre-onboarding process

Various pre-onboarding tools provide pre-onboarding templates that you can customize as per your needs. These contain the necessary components to create a smooth, positive, and informative pre onboarding experience. It allows you to spend less time sending and collecting data and more time building impactful relationships with your recruits.

Summing up 

Delivering superior pre-onboarding experiences to new hires can pay dividends throughout the employee lifecycle. It can help your organization boost retention, drive engagement, and derive value from your recruitment efforts.

If designed thoughtfully, it can reduce incidents of ghosting. Implement the given steps and personalize your pre-onboarding process to play to your strengths and show the world how great you are to work for before new hires step through your doors.

To make this happen, using Leena AI’s onboarding solution can be an excellent solution.

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