Pre-boarding: how to build the hype in anticipation of the start

Starting a new job is like embarking on a thrilling adventure, filled with excitement – but occasionally self-doubt too. Read Yasmin Ahmed’s tips on how to increase anticipation and calm nerves long before the new hire’s first day.

We've probably all felt it at some point: the nerves of starting a job somewhere new. Starting a new job is like embarking on a thrilling adventure, filled with excitement but it can also allow the occasional appearance of self-doubt.

In some countries, the pre-boarding phase can feel like it lasts for ages, and let's face it, the initial buzz can wear off quickly. An average of 1 in 5 newbies have not shown up on their first day after accepting a job offer. Poor communication is one of the main reasons why they did not feel enough connection to reach out before disappearing.

While there are already numerous tips available for ensuring a positive pre-boarding experience (such as the ones here in our earlier blogpost), I want to focus on building the hype for the newbie long before their start-date. Paying attention to the hype helps to make sure the new hire feels like part of your company even before you send them their official credentials.

Tip 1: end the radio silence

Picture this: you're in the pre-boarding phase, eagerly waiting for your new job to kick off. But the silence can be a bit... eerie. The dreaded radio silence.

It's best to tackle this concern head-on once they have signed their employment contract. You can do so by setting expectations for the rest of the pre-boarding process. Share a timeline of when they can expect important updates and information.

Additionally, a two-way communication channel with the newbie can break down walls early in the pre-boarding. Make sure to establish 2-way channels like an external Slack channel or even a lively WhatsApp group (make sure you have the consent of the newbie!).  Invite everyone involved in the onboarding process to the communication channel and encourage the newbie to ask questions, share their thoughts, and get to know their future teammates. It's not only an opportunity for them to feel supported but also a chance for you to keep them updated on any changes and sprinkle some excitement along the way.

By banishing the eerie radio silence, you'll create a sense of security and excitement as they eagerly await their start.

Tip 2: build the bridges through personal connections

German startup, Billbee, takes an innovative approach to pre-boarding by sending newbies a "friends book" before their official start. This engaging initiative includes information about future colleagues the newbie will be working with, including details about their hobbies, personal lives, and roles within the company.

How might you give your new hires insights into their future colleagues? Finding a way to incorporate this into your pre-boarding pays dividends, by bringing the new hire's future team to life, helping them find common ground and building anticipation to meet those people in person. And when the newbie finally meets their new colleagues, they have more than just names and roles to break the ice.

Tip 3: offer a sneak peak into the first week

Newbies can often find themselves in a state of uncertainty about their start. They also might worry about having nothing to do or feel guilty for not being fully “busy” right from the start. 

Early ahead of their start, you can send your newbie a detailed overview of what their first week will look like. And here's an extra tip: let them know that it's absolutely normal to have moments of "I have nothing to do" where they can take a breath, explore the environment, and embrace the excitement of their new journey without feeling guilty. It's all part of their onboarding adventure!

In conclusion

Pre-boarding is an important phase that sets the stage for an engaging and successful onboarding experience. By focusing on increasing the confidence of newbies and reducing fears, employers can ensure that their newbies feel supported, heard, and excited about their decision. Maintaining open communication, addressing concerns, creating personal connections, and setting clear expectations all contribute to a positive pre-boarding experience. Remember, the investment in pre-boarding pays off by having engaged and motivated new team members who are ready to hit the ground running.

About Yasmin Ahmed

Yasmin Ahmed is an experienced strategic HR Leader and Consultant with a proven track record of success in developing and executing People strategies that support business growth while improving employee engagement and culture. Yasmin has held various HR roles leading various regions, in industries varying from major corporations to scale & start-ups.

Yasmin is currently on a mission to change the perception of HR and inspire HR professionals and business leaders alike to be and empower the HR team that employees and businesses really need.

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