Pre-Boarding. The First-Class Welcome to Top-Flight Employee Engagement
— May 30th, 2022
Are you someone whose holiday begins as soon as they confirm the booking?
The thrill of buying your holiday wardrobe, checking the venue’s daily Insta posts, destination weather forecasts, duty-free shopping, the first page of your holiday reading, and maybe the airport lounge….all happening weeks and months leading up to the holiday itself.
Or do you only start to experience it when you arrive at your holiday venue?
The leadup is the ideal opportunity for holiday-related businesses to engage with their customers, delivering the dream and experience so that the excitement, anticipation, and connection build up long before the main event.
3 Ways to Make Your Employee Communications World-Class
Now imagine the opposite; confirming the booking and hearing nothing more until you arrive at your destination.
How valued would you feel? Would you start to lose confidence in the holiday provider? Maybe doubt whether you should have booked the holiday?
It’s a similar experience when starting a new job.
So why do 64% of employers wait until the actual start date to welcome and onboard new employees when a great preboarding experience can boost new hire retention by up to 82% and minimize nonstarters? *
Preboarding is a window of opportunity between accepting a job offer and starting a new role, which could be weeks or months. And an employer's behavior during this time can determine how their new employee begins the first day of their new career; feeling a valued part of a community with a great sense of excitement and belonging or apprehension and lack of clarity around exactly what they’ve signed up for.
Here are eight ways in which communication and connection can positively enhance your new employees’ experience in their preboarding period and have them ready for take-off from Day 1
# 1. Welcome On-Board!
Have your new employee’s Manager call them upon job acceptance to say how much they’re looking forward to working with them.
Create a "Welcome" card signed by everyone on the team.
With your new employees’ permission, share a photo and their profile to LinkedIn, welcoming them and inviting others to like and comment.
At the next team meeting, record a team video message or GIF and send it to your new employee—or invite them to have lunch or post-meeting drinks with you and the team.
# 2. Knowing you, knowing us
Ask your new employee to complete an "About me" questionnaire’ about their work style and preferences as well as some fun facts e.g., favorite biscuit (useful for the coffee round), pet hates, and "If I wasn’t an X, I’d be a Y".
Similarly, share "About Me’s" from all the team with the new employee, including pictures so that they feel familiar on the first day.
# 3. Buddy-Up
Allocate a Team Buddy to introduce themselves and check in for a coffee chat every week. Not in a scary, micro-management kind of way, but to build a friendship and answer any niggling questions.
# 4. Essential items
Provide the new employee with their equipment (and relevant passwords!) before their start day. This gives them chance to become familiar with key packages and navigation and enables any teething trouble to be ironed out in advance of their start date.
Pre-populate business phones or provide a priority list of team numbers, help desks, and other essential contacts.
Set up emails and Teams Groups and include your new joiner in social messages, future events, training, and diary dates.
# 5. Some light reading
Compile a personalized onboarding microsite or USB of key documents and links that your new employee will need and find of use.
- Share video stories of other employee experiences and/or what employees like about the company
- Develop an orientation handbook of all the information that they’ll need to navigate their way around the organization—brand guidelines, values, ways of working, safety regs. You may like to produce this in the form of a scavenger hunt where the new employee learns by finding the information for themselves
- Share your employee value pack. After all, that’s presumably why they’ve joined you! Explain your business culture, benefits, and how to access them with related forms and links to create that warmth of belonging and confidence that they’ve made the right choice
# 6. Breakfast with the Board
Arrange a diary date for an informal breakfast Q&A session with an Exec Team member. Great for hearing about purpose, direction, and plans for the wider organization and for the Exec to hear feedback on their employee experience.
# 7. Final checks
Provide links and details of any training that needs to be completed before the start, to enable the new joiner to hit the ground running. This could be in the form of online modules for your new employee to work through at their leisure.
Prepare a checklist of all the things you’ll require to get HR and other processes running smoothly such as an I.D. photo for a pass, personal details, driving license, passport, etc.
# 8. Countdown to Day 1
Here’s where you can get creative.
A simple solution would be to put together a thoughtful swag bag for home or desk delivery just before or on joining day. Branded useful goods always go down well: water bottle, pen, lanyard (with new employee pass attached), notepad, t-shirt, and the obligatory chocolate/energy or health bar.
If you’re not able to take the employee out for lunch on their first day, think about getting it delivered to their home or place of work and maybe arrange for the team to eat lunch together online.
Ask the team to prepare a Spotify playlist of their favorite tunes for your employee’s first commute (whether it’s real or imagined!)
Or how about, and this will take a little more thought, a "Countdown Calendar". The same principle as an Advent Calendar, where your new employee opens a window (virtual or actual) for X days before the start and each day reveals something to make them feel inspired, warm and fuzzy, or just plain delighted to be joining you.
It could be a coffee voucher, a story about living your values, a whacky picture of one of their new team, an inspirational quote, or meditation—a series of fun and thoughtful things that people will remember.
Which brings us nicely to Day 1, where preboarding blends into onboarding.
A few days before their start date, send your new employee a copy of their onboarding plan, along with any special instructions such as meeting point/link, start and finish times, dress code, arrangements for breaks etc.
Oh, and think about the actual start day too. What about a Friday, rather than having to endure a nervous weekend ahead of a Monday morning?
(Of course, all these suggestions will depend on the availability of your new employee before the start date. Those who are working out notice may not be able to be as flexible.)
With the rapid transformation in the way that we work, employee expectations are changing, and disengagement is currently seen as the biggest challenge for organizations according to State of the Sector. Employees are voting with their feet and moving to companies that really care about them.
As recruiting talent becomes even more competitive and demanding, how can you use your pre-boarding period to convince your new employee that in working for you, they’ve made the best decision?
*Source: Expectations vs. reality of onboarding: Talmundo & Vlerick Business