The growing prevalence of remote and hybrid workplaces has significantly heightened the importance of preboarding as a critical element of top-tier new hire onboarding processes.

In today’s remote forward environment, engaging and retaining employees presents more challenges than ever. Ensuring that new hires have a positive first impression is crucial, as their initial perceptions can decisively influence their decision to stay long-term. While it may seem that preboarding is primarily about logistical tasks like shipping laptops and processing I-9 forms, it actually represents a vital opportunity to reinforce to new hires why they made the right choice in joining your company.

Bridging the Gap: Understanding Preboarding

Preboarding—the period between accepting an offer and the first day at work—is far from merely a preliminary step. This strategic phase crucially shapes a new hire’s perspective, engagement, and likelihood of retention, ultimately setting the tone for their journey within the company. In remote and hybrid work environments, where direct personal interactions are scarce, the importance of this phase is magnified. While you may believe your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) handles preboarding effectively, it’s essential to recognize that preboarding extends beyond mere paperwork. It’s about forging connections, cultivating a shared culture, and establishing clear expectations.


Why Preboarding is More Important Than You Think

While often underestimated, preboarding is a vital component of a successful onboarding strategy, especially in today’s remote work environments. Here’s why preboarding should be a key focus in your HR practices:

  • Early Engagement: Research indicates that employees who experience a well-structured preboarding process are 69% more likely to remain with a company for up to three years. This significant statistic underscores the importance of preboarding in fostering loyalty and reducing turnover, especially critical in settings where face-to-face interactions are limited.
  • Reduced Time to Productivity: According to sources, effective preboarding can boost new hire productivity by over 70%. Considering that new hires typically take about nine months to reach full productivity, this represents a substantial benefit to your organization’s bottom line. Additionally, successful teams are 53% more likely to pre-board new hires. By providing essential resources, setting clear goals, and facilitating early learning, companies can significantly shorten the time it takes for new hires to transition from newcomers to valuable contributors. This acceleration is particularly vital in remote and hybrid teams, where self-motivation and efficiency are paramount.
  • Enhanced Employee Experience: A robust onboarding process, inclusive of preboarding, can enhance new hire engagement by up to 29% (Gallup). Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and committed to achieving the company’s objectives, making preboarding an essential strategy for employee satisfaction and retention.

What Does Great Preboarding Look Like?

Imagine the typical preboarding experience for most companies: A new hire signs their offer letter. Their laptop is shipped to them a week later. They’re hopeful it will arrive before their first day. They might hear very little from anyone at the company until one or two days before their start date, when HR or their manager sends them an email with their first day’s schedule. If they’re joining remotely, they may be nervous about how they’ll meet others on their first day, and if they’ll have enough meetings to join.

Now compare that to what your company’s preboarding experience could be:

Preboarding employees are sent an automated Congratulations! email as soon as they’ve accepted their offer. It includes a link to a personalized preboarding dashboard, a “preview” version of your company intranet. Their dashboard houses all of the communications and tasks they receive until their first day, keeping them on track for a successful start. Designed to reflect the company brand, it immediately introduces them to the company’s brand and culture. It creates the feeling that this company has tools purpose-built to serve their employees and help them be successful. Here, they also find key resources like your company values, policies, and benefits information.

While they await their first day, their laptop arrives (on time!). To their surprise, so does a welcome box with company swag and a warm welcome message. They receive a message introducing them to their onboarding buddy who will help them navigate their first week. They start to feel more at ease, and more excited to meet their colleagues. A couple of days before they start, they receive an email from their manager welcoming them and detailing their schedule for their first day.

And that’s just what preboarding employees see before they start. A positive experience on their first day is only achieved by the groundwork laid by your team leading up that day. You’re making sure they have a full calendar of meetings with their manager, team, and one-on-one introductions. You’re making sure they’ve been added to the necessary Slack or Microsoft Teams channels and email list-serves.

There’s still work to be done on the back end to ensure their first day goes smoothly. HR or People Ops must ensure their manager has their onboarding plan ready. You want a mechanism to add them to the right list-serves.

Implementing Effective Preboarding: Eight Strategies and Tools

  1. Automate your new hire communications: Automating personalized communications ensures you can have a thorough timeline of touchpoints from HR, managers, and onboarding buddies.
  2. Collect required information before they start: From shipping address to swag preferences, or a bio for their new hire announcement, you can collect all it through automated communications. With Cleary’s survey forms, you can even route their answers to the appropriate stakeholders automatically.
  3. Implement an interactive, branded platform: Having a single hub to house all of their communications will showcase how organized and well-prepared your team is for their arrival. Showcasing your brand and company values will augment the experience further. Cleary’s Intranet provides a configurable experience specifically tailored for everything preboarding employees need to hit the ground running on day one.
  4. Ensure laptops and equipment arrive on time: Automate this as much as possible to avoid delays.
  5. Ship welcome packages: Include company swag and a warm welcome message that make new hires feel valued before they start.
  6. Introduce onboarding buddies and schedule introductions: Assigning buddies and scheduling cross-functional introductions can be incredibly time-consuming, but it’s one of the most important aspects to include in every remote or hybrid setting where connections are difficult to make organically. These first-week intros help new hires integrate into the team more smoothly. Cleary automates your onboarding buddy program as well as your one-on-one introductions, allowing you to create connections without the time investment.
  7. Ensure new hires have a full calendar: These should include key company meetings, one-on-ones with their manager, team meetings, and other one-on-ones with their buddy and other peers. Cleary automates your calendar invites to take this off your plate.
  8. Add new hires to communication channels: Whether it’s making sure they’re added to key Slack channels or email list-serves, ensuring new hires are in the loop on day one.

 

At Cleary, we are committed to supporting your organization in this journey, ensuring that every new hire feels prepared, valued, and connected, right from the start. Visit our Onboarding Journeys page to learn more and begin your journey to better onboarding today.