What Is Preboarding?

What Is Preboarding and
Why Does It Matter?

Every organization wants increased employee engagement. After all, it’s linked to everything from increased productivity and profitability to stronger talent retention. Yet often we don’t start thinking about employee engagement until after someone starts working at the organization.

Enter preboarding! (And no, we don’t mean airplanes…)

Preboarding for new hires starts the moment someone accepts a job offer and lasts until they walk through the door on their first day. It’s a crucial step in the onboarding journey that can make a big difference in helping your people get ready to soar in their new role.

A blue and orange colored illustration of a rocket blasting off that symbolizes preboarding for new hires

Why preboarding?

Put yourself in the shoes of a new hire. Switching jobs is a major life change that provokes a wide range of emotions—from anxiety and stress to excitement and hope. Preboarding is your chance to address these emotions head-on. And since one out of five new hires will quit their job within the first 45 days, preboarding can tremendously impact turnover and attrition rates.

To take onboarding to new heights, preboarding for new hires should:

  1. Continue the story
  2. Help them feel the love
  3. Equip them for Day 1

Continue the story.

Some organizations overpromise during the recruiting phase and underdeliver during preboarding, leaving them with an uphill battle to engage new hires during orientation. Don’t do that!

Think about your company’s employee value proposition (EVP). If the new hire accepted the job offer because the EVP really resonated with their values and career goals, then make sure you’re reinforcing that EVP—in word and in deed—before their first day. Help them to see themselves fitting in right out of the gate!

Also, consider closing the loop on whatever was asked of new hires during the hiring process. Often, we ask new hires to take some sort of personality or skills assessment during recruiting. Preboarding is a chance to follow up with the individual about their results and how they’re a great fit.

Help them feel the love.

Ok, love may be strong, but preboarding is a critical time you can use to begin making the new hire feel connected. Managers play a key role here. They can achieve this during preboarding with a simple call, getting to know the new hire and answering their questions. This enables managers to make meaningful introductions to the team before the new hire starts, which helps them feel like they belong when they arrive (and everybody—from the front-line sales clerk to the C-suite executive—wants to feel like they belong). Consider having an onboarding buddy or peer reach out to the new hire as well; just be careful not to overwhelm them.

How can you continue the story and ensure they’re feeling even more connected? Talk to them about your company’s culture, values, and history, and why they matter to you. But don’t stop there: Talk to the new hire about how their unique mix of attributes and strengths will be a great fit for the organization. Encourage them to think about how they may activate the values in new and fresh ways. Create a brand ambassador before their first day! Speaking of that all-important first day…

Equip them for Day 1.

If you really want to show them some love, prepare them for the next phase of onboarding: Day 1 orientation.

Be very specific if there’s something that new hires need to do before their first day. Where possible, provide a checklist of things to bring and things to know ahead of time. Should they bring special identification? Where should they park and where should they report? What’s on their agenda for the first day? All new hires want to make a good impression—and that’s hard to do when you don’t know where to go, feel unprepared, or can’t move forward with onboarding because your passport is at home.

In some cases, new hires can preview some of the people and resources that will be at their disposal. This could be a simple guide that communicates the protocol, policies, and cultural nuances that aren’t apparent until you’ve been around a while—things like “People tend to eat at their desks” or “We exclusively use Google Drive.” Or you could build an immersive web portal that allows them to preview people, spaces, processes, tools, and more.

Regardless of the method, providing resources that help answer their questions before Day 1 will alleviate their fears and anxieties. It also opens up what orientation can be, allowing your people (new and established) to spend more time making warm, personal connections.

Oh, and make sure your organization is ready for their first day as well. You’ll want new employees to feel valued and appreciated when they show up, not like an afterthought wedged into the five free minutes of someone’s day. Every little thing matters, so think through things like their equipment, space setup, and a thoughtful gift or note from the team.

When investing in onboarding, don’t forget about preboarding. It’s a short but critical time that engages the hearts and minds of new hires before their first day on the job.

Want to connect with Jeremy? Give us a call at (859) 415-1000 or drop us a line in the form at the bottom of this page.