What is pre-boarding, and why do companies need it? 

It is essential to engage with the employee early on 

The ones who travel frequently by air know the importance of having a hassle-free pre-boarding experience. The passengers are already laden with anxiety and stress related to their travel and business. In that case, they only require a smooth pre-boarding experience before boarding the airplane. All reputed airlines ensure that the passenger has all the necessary details, such as how much luggage they can carry, what all items or objects are not allowed on the flight, the boarding time, the boarding gate, etc. Moreover, a priority boarding system is also available to aged passengers or specially-abled individuals, which gives a personalized experience. The same is the case with employee pre-boarding. Employees who join a new organization are full of excitement, anxiety, and doubts about their employer. Just the kind of feeling an airplane passenger would have about the new place they are visiting. That’s why companies need to give a good pre-onboarding experience to their employees for better engagement, productivity, and retention.

Pre-boarding for employees

What is employee pre-boarding?   

There is a period between when employees accept the job offer and when they join the company on their first day. This period is usually known as the pre-boarding period. Many experts believe that employee onboarding should start before an employee’s first day. It maintains momentum and keeps a continuous engagement with the employee. During this period, companies should plan various activities to keep the engagement level high with the new employee and lead to a better onboarding experience.

Why do companies need to have a pre-boarding plan?

India's overall attrition rate is 16%. Moreover, there are certain industries, such as BPOs (Business Processing Operations), where the level of attrition in employees is even touching 40%.

The overall attrition of employees is quite high. Why do we have such a situation? There are two reasons; in today’s business, talent has gained importance, and people have too many options. In such a scenario, having an effective pre-boarding plan becomes essential.

Two years back, the job market flooded with job opportunities. The situation was so bad that people had three to four job offers in their hands and were trying to collect more job offers for a higher annual package. In such a case, it gets very difficult for companies to onboard employees. There were just too many cases of last-minute dropouts. This frustrates the recruiters, and the cost of hiring another employee for the same position increases. Even a study by Josh Bersin states that 22% of employees leave their jobs within 45 days of their employment. That is where you need a pre-boarding strategy.

An Information and technology services firm reduced its dropout rates by 25%. All credit goes to their pre-boarding efforts. The company conducted a pre-boarding orientation session, allowing greater employee engagement. The employees and employer also got a chance to know each other better.

Establish employee pre-boarding success

Every employee goes through multiple emotions before joining a new company. There is a certain nervousness, doubtfulness, and even stress. To ease out all these emotions, companies need a robust pre-boarding strategy.

Set your objectives

Before we go on to design our pre-boarding strategy, we should first think about what we really want to achieve with our pre-boarding activity. We can design our pre-boarding program for new employees per our requirement.

Enhancing engagement

The primary objective of all pre-boarding programs should be to increase engagement with the new hire. This helps in building a better relationship in the long term and will also help in increasing the retention level of newly hired employees. We can foster a sense of belongingness from the very start and generate excitement in employees. Regular check-ins with employees also help to gauge the sentiments of people.

Reducing the possibility of dropouts

Sharing important company information, cultural values, job responsibilities and introducing the team members helps to maintain a relationship with the new employees. On the other hand, regular check-ins also help to understand employees’ intentions. Since people are still applying for other opportunities, pre-boarding helps reduce last-minute dropouts.

Increase productivity

We would like the employee to hit the ground running early. As a new employee joins, it takes time for him to reach the desired performance level. If we share handbooks, videos, or online training modules early on in the stage, it will help the employee to start early learning, which further helps in reaching a desired productivity level.

Completing administrative tasks

In many cases, companies waste a lot of time in completing paperwork and documentation part of the first day. Instead, we can get all the necessary paperwork, provide access to systems and tools, set up email accounts, or arrange for any required background checks or medical screenings to be completed early on as part of the pre-boarding activities. This will make the first day of employees more meaningful, where HRs can spend more time orienting the employees more about the company culture and their expectations from the employees.

Job specification

It would be helpful for the employee to know a brief about what they would need to do in their new role. We can explain the job specification through various communication methods like videos. This way, the employee will be clear about what he or she would be expected to do in the role, and the employee will be more confident on his first day of office.

Develop your pre-boarding strategy

Once we are ready with what we really want with our pre-boarding program, we can develop a strategy for the same.

Start as early as possible

Engaging with the new employee as early as possible is very important. Start sending the employee all congratulatory messages and emails as soon as he accepts the offer. This will also create a feeling of belonging in employees since they will feel valued.

Proactive communication

We must design a proactive communication strategy with the employees. For instance, one FMCG firm has developed its pre-boarding strategy in a sequence of 30-15-5. This means that the HR team will connect with the employee every 30, 15, and 5 days before their joining to conduct a regular check-in with the employee. This can help in gouging the intention and mood of the prospective employee. In case the HR sense that the employee might have another offer in hand, they restart their search for a replacement in advance.

Sharing of details

We can create a digital portal where the employee can access various resources such as information about the organization, its culture, values, and policies. This will help the employee to know a bit about their employer before joining the company. We can also share the employee handbook and materials like videos that can explain the organization’s culture. We can also plan a virtual tour of the office for the employee.

Introduction with key stakeholders

It is important that employees are aware of the key stakeholders, such as the direct manager and its team members. Some companies also assign a buddy to the new employee. It would be helpful for the employee to know his or her buddy/mentor as well. A marketing agency firm came up with a creative way of sharing a caricature of all the teammates with the employee with all the basic information about the person, such as their name, designation, and hobbies.

Arranging logistics

To give a much better employee experience, we can arrange a cab or set up travel plans for employees who will join from different cities. Moreover, employees joining remotely will require technical assistance with their laptops, desktops, and internet connectivity.

Employee onboarding has become a vital part of creating a better employee experience for the employee. Plugging in different strategies and methods, such as the pre-boarding program with the overall employee onboarding strategy, will help better employee engagement, lasting relationships, and higher productivity.