While onboarding and offboarding practices are regular topics of discussion in HR, the importance of preboarding has only recently gained real traction. It’s precisely because of this relative newness that many companies have yet to develop a detailed plan outlining what needs to happen during this phase. Not taking this transitory period seriously can lead new employees to feel alienated and sow seeds of doubt in their future workplace, causing some to even quit their jobs before they have even started. Lee noted that when the latter happens, it is “one of the most demoralizing things you can experience as a recruiter.”
As you design or improve your preboarding experience, here are three things to keep in mind:
Whether the preboarding phase lasts two weeks or three months, one thing is clear: there is a significant drop in the level of energy and engagement with the new employee. The high-level energy that many recruiters exhibit comes to a sudden halt as the candidate agrees to a job offer and moves to the end of the recruitment funnel. So who takes over from here?
This shouldn’t be a question of pointing fingers, but rather taking responsibility. In order to bridge the gap between the recruitment phase and the onboarding phase, talent specialists, people teams and hiring and line managers need to work together. Martocci advocates for manager-led preboarding and onboarding, explaining, “It’s your team. You’re building it. You need to be leading this process…Similar to sales, from closing the deal and passing to customer success, the AE needs to own the entire customer journey, just like how the hiring manager [in partnership with HR] needs to have responsibility from end to end."
Having consistent preboarding and onboarding experiences ensures that all employees enjoy the same quality introduction to your company. This consistency can serve to create a sense of camaraderie amongst employees by providing them with common shared experiences at the beginning of their employee journey.
“Statistics have shown that it can take anything from 30% to double their salary to replace an employee... but it's not just about the hard dollars, it’s even more so the morale and opportunity cost ... those stats don't include the important knock on effects to both your team and your productivity.
By creating systems to measure preboarding and onboarding programs, companies can track their consistency and accurately assess their success. Kilroy noted, “There are many, many touchpoints along the way that can be measured in a quantitative way to actually see where the bottleneck is happening and where the drop-off is happening.” By identifying these bottlenecks and drop-offs, companies can improve their processes.
Swag has become increasingly popular over the years and for good reason. It generates a feeling of connectedness and belonging between employees and their companies. Swag is especially helpful in fostering community amongst remote teams and building anticipation for a new job during the preboarding phase. However, not all swag is good swag.
When providing employees with swag, companies should gift useful, high-quality products, offer clothing in a wide range of sizes and cuts, and customize boxes to highlight different milestones. One noteworthy example during the discussion was of a company that partnered with SwagUp to provide candidates in the second round of interviews with a note expressing their enthusiasm for the candidate along with company swag. This went viral on social media, generating positive feedback and increasing the visibility of the company.
As companies set out to create exceptional preboarding experiences, they should keep the above tips in mind. Kilroy emphasized that this is especially true for roles that are hard to fill or for new hires that contribute directly to revenue-generating activities. From the moment that a candidate accepts a job offer, they are no longer on the outside looking in, they are now a part of the team. Take this as an opportunity to put your best foot forward.