Interestingly, companies spend a bounty in getting new hires onboard but forsake the crucial phase between signing the offer letter and the first day of onboarding. The pre-onboarding phase is the most crucial yet neglected time when candidates may opt for a switch or stay in anticipated limbo of the whats and whys of their soon-to-begin job role.
80% of the new hires struggle with anxiety issues while they wait for a new job, and 28% of the professionals confirmed deserting the company where they recently accepted a new position.
Looking at the stats above, do HR managers still find it feasible to wait until day one to get things started? Or, use the pre-onboarding phase to begin the acclimatization and introduction process?
One-third of the hires start looking for a new job within the first six months of the hiring, and 65% of the employers reported that they had hires that never turned up on the first day. Additionally, this ghosting leads to the turnover costs shooting up by 100-300%!
A well-drafted pre-boarding strategy can be the answer to help the new hires feel they belong and connect with their new company and job, says Gallup’s 2017 survey on the State of the American Workplace.
7 Strategies to keep new hires engaged before their first day
Here’s a step-by-step guide to keep the new hires engaged and anticipating before D-day at work.
#1 Send a personalized welcome kit
A pre-onboarding swag can be a great way to tell your new hire that you want to build a strong yet special relationship with them. Gifts or welcome kits are delightful cues for employees to feel wanted and connected with the company even before they enter the office.
Gift baskets and handwritten notes are a popular sales strategy that helps strengthen client relationships and bring in that extra personal touch. New hires are no different.
Good salaries and career development opportunities are a great boost for new hires. But the sense of feeling welcome at the place of work and the little gesture of appreciation over the win will help develop an optimistic mindset and anticipation for the joining date.
The candidate would know they did the right thing in accepting the job offer.
Brands and companies include pens, mugs, notebooks, and bags emblazoned with the company logo in the welcome kit. The more creative ones go for a potted plant, snack items, and schwag from the company line to better understand the company values and brand story.
If personalized gifts sound expensive for any organization, they can consider sending postcards, handwritten notes of appreciation, or even a welcome email to keep the candidate in the loop of the exciting things that await them once they join.
#2 Initiate account signups and formalities
Before you rush in with the formalities and signups, assign a welcome buddy or a point of contact to the new hire. Introduce them to each other to get the process started. The point of contact can be the hiring manager, the employee’s to-be supervisor, or any team member.
The new hires can get started with the various HR, training, information, and other project management tools during the pre-onboarding phase. These apps may be Slack, Trello, Notion, or Asana. The new employees can sign up on the apps and be a part of the communication channels to feel at home once they begin.
Besides account signups, the new hires can have a list of tasks sorted during the pre-onboarding phase. These tasks may include verifying personal details, adding personal information to the payroll software, and submitting relevant documents for government employment records.
Familiarity and connection with a workplace can do wonders to retain new hires. And which new employee would want to start their first day being spent in form signing and setting up accounts?
The hiring managers may also allot a new company email to the employee, give them access to the necessary applications, and share a few documents that help them get started with understanding the context and background of the company.
#3 Request feedback and answer queries
Once the new hire has set up their base and finds themselves welcomed, the communication between the employers and new hires should begin to keep them engaged. The communication can be either employers seeking feedback or new hires trying to find answers to their queries.
Feedback carries a two-way value proposition in the pre-onboarding process. On the one hand, feedback from new hires gives you a first-person account from someone who has actually tasted the process. The reviews and insights from new hires are, therefore, valuable and can be implemented to bring functional changes to the process.
On the other hand, the new hires feel empowered and a part of the team, and their opinions are counted and valued. The feedback can be in the form of forms or surveys that contain Yes/No questions and other why/how/what questions to provide HRs with quantitative figures and personal comments from the new hires.
Similarly, when new hires begin, they may have numerous doubts and queries about work and their role in the company. The welcome buddy should take time to patiently clear the candidate’s doubts to help them feel at home. The doubt-clearing sessions can go a long way in communicating effectively and avoiding ambiguity about the job role.
The new hires may also be provided with a FAQ questionnaire that solves their basic queries related to dress code, working hours, etc. Such communication can help transition the new hire into a team member, bring more positives to the work culture, and help to boost retention.
#4 Begin introductions early
Now the communication flow has kicked in, and the employee feels at home, why not get the introductions ringing instead of waiting for the onboarding day to arrive?
Encourage your new hires to prepare a personalized intro video. Such an initiative would not only keep the new hires engaged during the crucial pre-onboarding phase but also let them tailor their first impressions accordingly.
The introductory video may include details such as their role in the organization, interests and hobbies, their previous career trajectory, how they feel about the new role, what makes them stand apart from the crowd, and any interesting detail about their personality.
Video introductions can set the grounds for introducing the existing team members to the new hire. Conversely, the existing team members should be told about the new addition to their team in advance via an email or Slack message.
The email message must include a photo of the employee, their name, job role, the intro video or description, and other details. The news should be well-timed and directed so that the team members don’t forget about the new arrival.
#5 Discuss the onboarding schedule
A survey revealed that 72% of job seekers had a horrible hiring experience. The negative publicity had 55% of the job seekers not applying for a role in that company.
Creating a streamlined vision and schedule for the onboarding process can help new hires to wade smoothly through the initial hiccups and find themselves eager to start working for the firm.
The HR or the department head should discuss the onboarding schedule with the new hire to prime them for what’s coming up. Such relevant engagement initiatives also help to build a strong EVP about how the employees are valued and employers stick to their commitments to the company.
The new hires can be sent calendar invites for training sessions, meetings, and company-wide events ahead of the hectic weeks that will mark their onboarding. Populating their calendar would bring in the organization and reiterate that the employees will be joining a happening work community.
When new hires know the key details of what will happen during their initial days, their anxiety levels get subdued, and they are not kept waiting in limbo.
Check – How to Onboard Remote Employees
#6 Introduce them to the learning platform
HR and L&D people can also use the time between the offer letter acceptance and onboarding to get the employees started with training and learning sessions. Employees arriving on their first day with know-how about their new role and how things get done will be confident, efficient, and productive.
Once the employee is aware of the work culture and values, you could move ahead and give them early access to your learning platforms. Most jobs require some training and learning period to align the employee efforts with the company goals better. Pre-onboarding can be the best time for the employee to become familiar with on-the-job training tools and platforms.
Additionally, familiarity with the tools will ease ambiguity, reduce nerves, and help the new hires assess the quality of work, values, and ethics in the company.
#7 Organize an informal hangout
All work and no play do make Jack dull and disengaged. So why not invite your new hires to an informal hangout where the team members can get to know each other personally?
Whether virtually or in-office, such hangouts or get-to-know-each-other events can contribute to strong community building and give the new hires a taste of the rich work culture.
The HR can plan such meet-ups in advance, choose coworkers who represent the company culture well, and help guide the new hires throughout the onboarding process. The informal hangout sessions can be over a company lunch or a video call and may include the future manager, the team members, and other immediate superiors of the new hires.
With one in four new hires leaving within the first 45 days, HR must focus on making the waiting period productive and engaging. A well-structured pre-onboarding process sets the stage for successful onboarding and fosters strong, lasting employer-employee relationships.
By familiarizing new hires with the work culture and environment, companies can boost consistency, enhance decision-making, and fuel employee satisfaction and success.