The period between the acceptance of an offer and a new hire starting can be long and quiet. For the successful candidate, this can cause concern and create doubts. Having chosen their new role and employer, they will probably want their decision reinforced in a positive way. Starting a new job can be a nerve-racking experience and every new starter wants to make a strong impression from day one.
For the hiring company, it is important to get their new members of staff off to a flying start. Recruitment is a costly and time-consuming process, and the length of time it takes an employee to settle and start being productive can increase these costs, as well as unsettle the existing team. Loyalty, and hence retention, is also determined quickly. In US research from 2015, it was found that 33% knew whether they were likely to stay with their new company after just one week, with 63% deciding within the first month.
A lot can go wrong between offer and start date, particularly if the successful candidate is feeling neglected by their new employers. Firstly, they may take silence as a lack of interest and continue with their job search. Secondly, it is probably most likely that the business they are leaving will want to keep them, so a lack of communication increases the risk of a counter offer, and in some cases a rejection of the new employer.
Successful candidates want a good experience on joining their new employers and need to feel engaged right through the period from acceptance to start date. This helps take any uncertainty out of the job move. The process that delivers this is known as pre-boarding, taking the new hire on a journey that prepares them for their first day, helping build confidence in their future performance and giving a great first impression of their new workplace. It’s the way you can start giving them a feel for the real business and what it will be like to work there.
The pre-boarding phase is different to onboarding in that it begins to prepare them for what happens next. If done well, it can give a new hire a flying start into their new role, taking out all the uncertainties, and enabling them to have a strong impact from the start. There are four steps to successful pre-boarding:
Let them know about the business
During the interview phase your new employee will probably have found out about the operational side of the business, i.e. what you do, how you do it and why. Preboarding is the time to give them a full understanding of how the business got to where it is – the history and legacy, how it has evolved and the part they can play in its future success. Share videos, where possible, and maybe let them see a welcome message from the CEO. This might also a good time to tell them about the company technology and what tools and devices they will be using.
Meet the team
One of the main reasons for new hires leaving within the first few months is not getting on with their colleagues or manager. Make sure that they meet before start – preferably relaxed, conversational and in an informal and social environment, so maybe a team lunch or end of business on a Friday. If that isn’t possible then have a video call with the team and let each one introduce themselves. Getting them all socially connected is important, and will help build bonds and establish common interests, so share social media connections. Let them join internal social networks, such as Yammer or Facebook at Work, and any team communication channels like Slack.
Get the paperwork done
The first day should be a special event, one that sets a positive tone for the period of employment. For too many new starters it can be relatively administrative and mundane. There is no reason to wait until then to get paperwork signed, contracts read, technology set up and to run through basic office hygiene. These administrative tasks can all be completed ahead of time, with some early learning also done through online portals and modules. Whatever company technology the new hire will be using should be requisitioned and set up for the first day. Giving them their logins and e-mail address ahead of starting also helps make them feel like part of the team from the outset.
Take the uncertainty out of the first day
No matter how experienced your new hire is, there will always be uncertainty and anxiety around their first day. If they haven’t had a tour of the premises during the interview, then invite them in or arrange a virtual tour for them to see. Even if they did get a tour, being on interview probably meant they were more nervous, so let them find their way around when feeling more relaxed. If the logistics don’t allow, then get one of their team members to video a walk around the offices whilst providing commentary on their new surroundings. Also, make sure they know where to park and the easiest commuting routes by public transport.
Crucially, let them have a schedule of what they will be doing on their first day or, preferably, first week. Knowing that this has been thought through, and planned, can help ease any concerns at what the first few days may hold. It also sends out a clear message to new hires that their arrival is valued, and they are going to be supported and equipped to settle in quickly, become productive, and contribute to future business success.