Human resources experts constantly emphasize the importance of a new employee’s first weeks at a company – the so-called onboarding period. This time requires proper induction, familiarization with the team and duties, and making sure that the person feels comfortable in the new workplace. Recently though,, we can observe a growing interest in the period between the signing of the contract and the start of work at the company – referred to as preboarding – and its impact on whether an employee will have a positive attitude on the first days of work. Below, we explain what exactly preboarding encompasses and why it is so essential. We’ll also point out what best practices are worth implementing in this area at the company.
Preboarding - table of contents:
Preboarding – what does it consist of?
Preboarding is the process of preparing an employee to start working for a company. It usually begins after the signing of the contract, and its purpose is to minimize the employee’s stress before coming to the new place and to increase the chance of a successful and long-term cooperation. Both HR staff and hiring managers, i.e., the new person’s future supervisors, may be responsible for carrying it out. Depending on the specific company, preboarding may include other elements, but the most commonly mentioned include:
- Maintaining contact to make sure that formal processes are going well.
- Presentation of specific responsibilities before the start of work (and discussion of them).
- Send work regulations and other documents that will allow you to get to know the company as well as possible.
- Discuss company culture.
Preboarding versus onboarding – what is the difference?
It may seem to many that preboarding and onboarding mean the same processes, but the difference between the two is significant, especially in terms of what an employee expects from both periods. Firstly, preboarding refers to the anticipation of starting work, while onboarding includes everything that happens from the first day of work through the induction period (which, depending on the company, can last either a few days or weeks). Thus, the former process is aimed at taking care of the just-acquired employee (making sure he or she feels comfortable), while the latter focuses on ensuring that the new employees quickly and efficiently gather information about their job, tasks, procedures and company policies.
Preboarding activities – best practices
So what should you do to take the best care of your employee before they come to your company? Below we list some practices that are worth implementing in any company, regardless of industry or team size.
- Invite to the office for contract signing
- Keep in constant contact
- Send an email before the first day of work
- Hold a pre-work meeting
Whenever possible, it is worth encouraging an employee to come to the office before the official “first day of work” and talk live with HR people or have a chance to get acquainted with other employees. The pretext for such a visit could be, for example, the need to sign a contract or fill out other necessary documents. This is a chance to meet in a more relaxed atmosphere than in the case of a recruitment interview or telephone contact.
It is very common for several weeks or even months (depending on the applicable notice period) to pass between the acceptance of an offer and the arrival of a new person at work. Keeping in constant contact with the new employee during this time is the best way to bring in positive experience even before the first day at the company, and maintain the level of enthusiasm that emerged when the job offer was received. You can conduct both email and telephone contact and inquire about both formal issues (e.g., documentation) and, for example, their well-being, development plans, or attitude towards the new stage in their professional life.
A few days before the first day of work, it is worth sending an email to the employee confirming the time and place of the appearance, as well as outlining other issues that may be relevant (e.g., the dress code in force, the possibility of ordering a meal, parking options at the office, details on how to get there by car or public transportation, documents he should have with him, etc.). Such an action will surely be welcomed – it will give the employees confidence that they are well-prepared for the first day. However, remember not to send this type of email at the last minute (e.g., the day before), because then you expose them to more stress and uncertainty.
Have you signed a contract with an employee, and during the waiting period organized a team-building trip for the whole company? Or knew that their future team had a meeting planned in your company? Provide newcomers with the opportunity to participate in this type of activity! In this way, you will ensure that they can get to know future colleagues earlier, in less formal circumstances, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on their sense of belonging to the company as well as establish good bonding with new team.
Preboarding – summary
While there is no doubt that onboarding is an extremely important process from the point of view of both the new employee and those in the HR department, the importance that characterizes the pre-employment period should not be underestimated either. The first day or week in a new place is a great stress for many people, which is mainly due to the fear of not connecting with the team or the fear that the duties will prove too difficult. You can minimize these negative feelings by taking care of properly conducted preboarding, such as with the practices outlined above. Ensure their implementation in your company, and you will soon observe positive effects – especially in the area of mental well-being.