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From “Yes” to Desk: How to Preboard a New Hire

In Human Resources — by Dave Anderson


Bringing on board a new employee is mostly a fast moving process. The hiring team quickly narrows in on the ideal candidate and makes them an offer before another company snatches them away. And once the new hire starts, their first few weeks are a whirlwind of meeting new people, completing paperwork and learning the intricacies of their role and the overall company.

But there is a giant black hole between the time a person accepts an offer and their start day. After they sign the offer letter, they disappear for awhile to transition out of their current job and take a breath before starting the new gig.

Many HR professionals have come to realize that this quiet time can be used to start the onboarding process earlier. The new hire can complete insurance forms and peruse the employee handbook on their own time. They can also start to form relationships with their soon-to-be colleagues and get familiar with the company and culture before they come in for day one.

Preparing a new hire to join your company immediately after they accept your offer is known as preboarding. It’s on-boarding rethought and is a great way to engage with a new hire during the traditionally quiet “yes” to desk period.

What happens during the radio silence?

It’s rare for a person to start a new job the same week they accept the offer. They usually need some time to tie up loose ends and most companies give new hires the space to do so.

However, a lot can happen during this timeout that can result in the candidate reneging on their commitment to your company. Some people are ambitious and use a job offer as a bargaining chip. They dangle it in front of the other companies they interview with or even their current employer and try to land a sweeter deal.

But not all job searchers are so aggressive. Many people experience anxiety as they wait for their first day to arrive. Accepting a new job is a life-changing decision and some people can talk themselves out of it during the downtime.

In both these situations, a little communication goes a long way in reaffirming the new hires commitment to your company. The serial interviewer will start to form bonds with their new manager and team. And the worry-wart’s doubtful thoughts will be drowned out by all the warm welcomes they receive.  

Preboard successfully

Pavle Stojkovic is the People Operations Manager for Managed By Q – an office management services company. He believes the way companies prepare their new hires says a lot about the long-term employee experience. “On-boarding starts the moment someone applies to a company,” Pavle says. “The moment they express interest in your business, they begin to form opinions about who you are, how you treat your employees and what they’re going to get out of this experience.”

Pavle recommends companies create a step-by-step preboarding process that every new hire participates in. A successful program will complete items on your new hire checklist, make the new employee feel welcome and keep them engaged during the downtime before day one. Pavle recommends the following steps:

  • Pair your new hire with a “point person” who will guide them through the experience. This can be a member of the HR team, an office manager or the hiring manager.
  • Ask your point person to send a basic schedule to your new hire. It should outline what they can expect before they start and during their first week or two on the job. Strive to keep in simple. It can be intimidating to accept a job and immediately receive an in-depth road map.
  • Schedule some time to have your new hire come back into the office. Aim for a time toward the end of the day, ideally on a Friday. The goal is to expose your new hire to their team and co-workers in an informal, social setting.
  • Check in with your new hire one week, three days and 24 hours before their first day. You can mention things like “We spent this afternoon setting up your computer” or “your desk is all ready for Monday.” It shows the new hire that you are thinking about them and putting effort into preparing for their arrival.

Stay in touch

Hiring is a long journey. You can’t afford to go back to square one because a candidate walks back on an accepted offer. Don’t give them the opportunity to change their mind. Implement a preboarding process and your new hires will be excited and prepared to start when their first day rolls around.

Are you interested in learning even more about preboarding? If so, check out our Business Guide “Tips for Effectively Preboarding New Hires”

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