September 27, 2018

Onboarding Rethought: Why Your Company Should Preboard New Hires

Written by
Dave Anderson
Tags: HR

In June, an article made the rounds on LinkedIn claiming that companies are increasingly being “ghosted” by new hires. As the job market continues to tilt in the candidate’s favor, many people are accepting offers, only to no-show when it comes time to start working.

The case can be made that these companies actually luck out by not adding flakey people to their staff. Every organization wants to employ high-character people and someone who goes back on a commitment would have likely become a problem employee at some point. But hiring is an extensive and sometimes costly process so it can be worthwhile to consider why this trend is happening and if anything can be done to prevent no-shows.

Why are employees no-showing?

Since most new hires have some time before their start day, they’re free to work on securing an even better job offer. Some people use the first offer they get as a bargaining chip. If they’re already working, they can demand a raise or promotion from their current employer. If they continue to job search, they can ask for a higher salary from the other companies that want to hire them.

In other cases, people end up second-guessing their decision as they wait to start their new job. They may have gotten overly excited during the interview and said “yes” to the offer without thinking it through. Then the gravity of taking on new challenges and getting to know new coworkers sets in. Let’s face it, starting a new job is an anxiety-filled experience and it’s easy for a person to conclude it would be easier to stay where they’re at than take a chance on a different opportunity.

So, what can a company do to keep a new hire committed and put their mind at ease during the quiet time that occurs between an offer being accepted and the start day?

Stay in touch with preboarding

It’s commonly accepted that there’s no need to stay in touch with a new hire before their first day. However, it really doesn’t make much sense when you stop to think about it. All the mutual excitement established during the interview start to wear off. And there are also plenty of onboarding activities that can be taken care of during this time so the employee can hit the ground running when they finally start.

Most of us have experienced onboarding when starting a new job. Instead of getting right to work, we’re handed off to HR to complete insurance paperwork and get briefed on the policies and procedures in the employee handbook. All of a sudden, a few days have passed before we get started on what we were hired to do.

Shifting onboarding activities before the new hire’s start day is known as preboarding. HR can email them paperwork and the employee handbook so they can review everything on their own time. However, that’s not all preboarding is. It also consists of less-formal activities that welcome and prepare the soon-to-be employee for their start day.

Ways to say “hello” to a new hire

Most new hires don’t know what to expect when they walk into the workplace on their first day. There’s a new office to get familiar with, a lot of people to meet, and likely some meetings they’ll be asked to attend.

Preboarding is an effective way to introduce them to the company so they know what day one has in store. Below are a few ideas your company can include in its preboarding activities:

  • Put the new hire in touch with a point of contact from your company. Their future manager makes the most sense but it can also be a member of the HR team or the office manager.
  • Send the new hire a schedule for their first few days in the office. Include what time you expect them to arrive, when they can leave at the end of the day, and all the meetings they’ll need to participate in.
  • Schedule some time for the new hire to come into the office before their first day. The goal is for them to get to know their coworkers and the workspace in a casual setting so end of the day on a Friday could be ideal.
  • Alternatively, you can schedule a lunch outside of the office for the new hire and their immediate team members. They’ll have the opportunity to converse with the people they’ll soon be working closely with.
  • Mail the new hire a company t-shirt or other branded swag. If they mentioned their family during the interview, include some items for their spouse and kids.
  • Send check-in emails one week, three days, and one day before the new hire’s start day. One of these emails can include their schedule. The others can be brief messages letting them know you’re preparing for their arrival.

Reaffirm the new hire’s commitment to your company

While hiring someone only to have them no-show is unfortunate, it’s a situation that can often be avoided with preboarding. Show what a great employer your company is by staying in touch with the new hire and there will be no doubt in their mind that they made the right decision accepting your offer.

Dave Anderson is a content marketer for Recruiterbox based in Portland, Oregon.