Organisations have had to rework their old onboarding methodology to fit into the virtual mould. With virtual workspaces becoming indispensable for an organisation’s growth and success, so has online employee onboarding. Pre-onboarding is the relatively new entrant to the onboarding vocabulary.
What is pre-onboarding?
The period between a new hire accepting a job offer and joining is the pre-onboarding period. It is a crucial time because this is when new hires could be considering other offers too. Assuming at par financial packages, the only differentiating factor between job offers could be the quality of the virtual association before joining. Processes implemented during this period can also be referred to as the post-offer follow-up (POFU) processes.
Onboarding vs pre-onboarding
Onboarding begins the day a new hire officially joins the organisation. It lays the foundation for a new hire’s future experience with the organisation. Traditionally, this is when the formalities of a new job usually need to be fulfilled—filling up forms, meeting people, getting to know the organisation and its culture, and getting familiar with the work processes.
Many companies are implementing some of these activities in the pre-onboarding period and many are in the process of doing so. Pre-onboarding sets the stage for the onboarding process.
Virtual onboarding is no longer a novel idea; almost all tech companies are on it now. There are tools available to make it an easier process. HirePro’s AI-powered onboarding tool does just that. It automates the post-offer process and can be customised to fit any ATS a client uses.
Why is pre-onboarding important in the employment process?
The thread that binds a new hire to an organisation until joining day is a tenuous one.Bersin by Deloitte says that 4 per cent of new hires leave their jobs after a disastrous first day and almost 22 per cent leave within the first 45 days of joining. The virtual workspace has opened doors for everyone. While companies can now get work done from anywhere, the present-day talent pool is taking advantage of the virtual set-up too. Losing an employee so early in the talent acquisition process is expensive for the organisation.
To give their new hires the best virtual pre-onboarding and onboarding experience possible, organisations must make the most of the virtual platforms available.
- Reduce chances of early attrition: A well-planned pre-onboarding process leads to more streamlined processes, more engaged new hires, and less employee turnover. New hires who are exposed to very short onboarding programmes end up feeling confused and lost; so a programme that stretches from 90 days to a whole year will best serve the interests of the organisation. This being a relatively long period of time, it could be effectively programmed to start cultivating a strong corporate culture.
- Tackle pre-joining jitters: The uncertainty of the first few days of a new job are always nerve-racking, even if it’s virtual. Gallup recommends HR leaders to begin a new hire’s experience by addressing psychological needs instead of starting with the formal requirements. The questions troubling a fresher could be mundane, but nevertheless worrying. What is the boss like? What is the team manager like? Will I get along with the team? An organisation can use this opportunity to empower the new talent with relevant information.
- Get administrative work done: A large part of administrative paperwork can be completed during this period so that it doesn’t crowd the first days of work and make them tedious.
- Get to know the new hire early: Virtually meeting the new hire and answering any questions about the organisation and job profile will boost the employee’s confidence and give him/her a good feel about the organisation.
- Send a personalised welcome email before the first day and create a great first impression. After all, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression!”
- Present the mission and vision of the organisation to the new hires. They will need enough information to feel empowered and inspired to help meet the organisation’s goals.
- A virtual address by either the CEO or someone senior will help the new hires get to know a person they are unlikely to interact with on a regular workday.
- Present videos to explain the culture of the organisation. New hires need to know how the organisation resolves problems and rewards people, and how people behave with each other everyday.
- Introduce the team to the new hire. It will ease the stress of fitting into a new team.
- A video to explain a day in the life of a young employee will be an interesting presentation too. The organisation’s thoughtfulness will be appreciated.
- Establish a virtual buddy system. New hires can be matched with a seasoned employee who could advise and answer questions. Research shows a significant boost in new hire proficiency when a buddy programme is implemented.
- Stay in touch with a new hire until joining day. This can help alleviate doubts and questions. An organisation with a process that keeps an ongoing communication with a new hire is unlikely to lose talent.
- Help the new hires get familiar with new tools. Send them the necessary learning materials too.
- The pre-onboarding process can be made enjoyable by including activities such as virtual coffee chats, lunches and office tours, among others. All these experiences drive engagement and retention.
How to enhance a new hire’s understanding of the organisation:
Put your best foot forward
Pre-onboarding is not for the benefit of the new employees alone; it has an impact on business too. For example, it hardly needs mentioning that today’s generation is a plugged-in generation and every time they change a job, they talk about it on social media. An effective pre-onboarding and onboarding experience increases the chances of them sharing positive and constructive information about the organisation.
As per a Brandon Hall Group study, organisations that have a strong onboarding process improve productivity by over 70 per cent, and new hire retention by 82 per cent. A complete starter programme that includes pre-onboarding, onboarding, and training can enhance employee ramp time by 30 per cent. Undoubtedly, organisations must continuously look at improving the onboarding experience using virtual onboarding tools.