Your employees and job candidates have many choices when it comes to where they want to work. In fact, there are currently two job openings for every unemployed worker in the United States.

Many are changing their minds soon after accepting a job offer, as 7% of job seekers have failed to appear for their first scheduled day of work. Another 30% of job seekers have left a job within the first 90 days of starting. 

The good news: you can get ahead of turnover woes and kick off a great employee experience with employee preboarding.

Preboarding is the first step of employee onboarding, taking place between the time a new hire signs their offer letter and arrives for their first day. It can affirm a new hire’s decision to join your team, build early engagement, and set the stage for the rest of the employee lifecycle.

Here are some things you can do to make the most of this crucial transitional period.

1. Extend a warm welcome

Hooray—your offer letter has been signed! This is an exciting time for both you and your candidate, so build on that by enthusiastically welcoming your new hire to the team. This can be done by your People Ops team, but can be particularly powerful coming from the hiring manager. In fact, a call from the hiring manager before the start date increases a new hire’s willingness to refer by 83%.

Provide some details around next steps, even if just to say that additional details are forthcoming, and invite your new hire to reach out with any questions they may have. Nearly half (49%) of employers send specialized marketing and congratulations content and packages to their hired candidates as part of their employee preboarding program. This early communication can be instrumental in helping the candidate feel connected to the organization, and reduce the chances of a first day no-show.

2. Introduce new team members to a work buddy

An employee onboarding buddy program is a great way to help your new hire acclimate to their role and your organization. A buddy will help welcome your new hire to the team, introduce them to other employees, and answer any questions they may have. 

As peers, buddies are more approachable than a hiring manager or someone on your People Ops team. This can be especially helpful for non-critical questions like where to get lunch near your office or how to set a background on Zoom.

Ask seasoned employees to volunteer to be work buddies and share some tips that will help ensure the program’s success. For example, buddies should plan to reach out to new team members soon after an offer is accepted and check in at least weekly for the first month, and once or twice a month thereafter.

3. Get to know new team members better

Ask your new hires to complete a questionnaire so your team can learn more about them. 

This may include fun information like their favorite hobbies, music, and holiday locations, or where they grew up. Share this information with the rest of your team so they can connect around common interests.

Your survey may also include logistical questions to help you accommodate things like food and office equipment preferences, or t-shirt sizes so you can create a company-branded care package.

4. Rope in the rest of your team, too

Send a weekly new hire announcement with fun information from your new hire questionnaire, so your entire team can get to know new employees. Encourage current team members to reach out and introduce themselves to your new hires via email, Slack, Zoom, or LinkedIn. This can help new hires feel like a part of the team before their first day.

It can be helpful to begin provisioning new hire accounts early for this purpose, as well as to ensure they’re ready for the employee’s first day. An accompanying people directory and org chart can also help new hires keep track of everyone they meet, and learn more about each person’s backgrounds and interests.

5. Give new hires the inside scoop on your company

Help your new hires acclimate to your organization by sharing some preliminary information about your mission, vision, values, history, and culture. They’ll certainly learn more over time, but a quick new hire video or some text and images that depict your organization can help your new hire feel a stronger sense of purpose and connection to your organization.

6. Plan a memorable first day

Let your new team member know what to expect on their first day, or even their entire first week. 

A late start time on the first day can help new hires begin their workday refreshed and relaxed. Start the morning off slowly by scheduling an in-person or Zoom coffee with their manager or buddy, followed by team introductions. 

Plan for lunch, perhaps taking an office-based team member out to a nearby restaurant or sending an UberEats gift card for a remote team member to order a lunch of their choice.

You might also incorporate a new hire orientation with the People Ops team, and a manager check in to review responsibilities, goals, and a development plan. 

Circle back with your new hires at the end of their first day to reiterate how excited you are to have them on the team, and address any questions or concerns they may have.

7. Get the boring paperwork out of the way

A new hire’s first day should be filled with celebration, introductions, and learning. Get the boring paperwork out of the way during preboarding, so your new hire doesn’t have to deal with it on their first day. 

This can give your new team members time to consider your employee benefit options, and ask questions to People Ops or their buddy. 

An employee onboarding platform can simplify this process by pulling key information from your applicant tracking system to kick it off. 

8. Have a plan for onboarding remote team members

Remote team members typically require a different preboarding workflow than office-based team members. For example, you may need to send them office equipment or get them set up with communications tools so they know how to log in on their first day. Doing this work behind the scenes now will help ensure a smoother onboarding process.

Make sure you think through and document a remote onboarding workflow so you can create a positive, consistent new hire experience for all of your remote team members.

9. Ask for feedback

Only 26% of new hires were asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date. But when employers asked for feedback, new hires were 91% more willing to increase their relationship out of the gate and 79% more willing to refer others. 

Further, asking for feedback helps improve your candidate experience and—by extension—future employees’ overall journey at your company.

Final thoughts on employee preboarding

A great employee experience begins with preboarding, and extends throughout the employee lifecycle. Follow it up with a 30-60-90 onboarding plan to ensure new hires are fully ramped and set up for success. This includes regular check-ins with managers and buddies, product training, and a fully baked development plan and career path. When done correctly, employee onboarding can improve new hire retention and productivity.

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Employee Preboarding: 9 Tips to Kick Off a Great Employee Experience