Best Practices for Onboarding New Hires

Onboarding programs have a well-deserved reputation for being poorly designed, under managed, and their results are seldom measured or quantified in dollars. Pre-boarding is the often omitted phase of onboarding that begins when an offer is accepted, and it ends on the new hire’s start date. It should also be considered the last component of the candidate experience.

Pre-boarding is primarily designed to get new hires up to speed and ready for their first day of work. Typical pre- boarding activities include providing information, frequent contacts, providing training, benefits sign-ups, and taking actions to increase their commitment to the firm before they actually start.

Changing jobs is difficult for the new hire and their family, especially if relocation is required. Regardless of relocation requirements, the change is disruptive and time is needed to adapt. When a company pre-boards a new hire, the change can be smooth with minimal disruption.

4 Effective Tips to Pre-board Your New Hires:

1. Give them a “show-up bonus”. If you’re really bold, offer them a small “show up bonus” that they get on their first day of work, or alternatively, after completing one month of work. Signing employees to an employment contract can also be effective.

2. Frequent contact from the recruiter and the hiring manager. Direct contact is the No. 2 most powerful reinforcer. And because frequent contact is so important, both recruiter and manager should call the new hire periodically just to check in.

3. Face-to-face meetings. It’s simply more difficult to walk out on people who you know well. So schedule an off-site face-to-face meeting over drinks, coffee, lunch, or dinner within a week after accepting to reinforce the sale. During their notice or waiting period, they probably won’t be able to visit your firm during work hours, but consider having them visit the firm at night or on a Saturday to reinforce their commitment.

4. Get them to quickly sign the offer letter. If they only accepted verbally, get them the formal offer immediately. Encourage them to quickly sign and return your formal offer letter, because that might by itself increase their commitment level. If it is possible to do it quickly, have them sign it in your presence, because that will further reinforce the sale (consider taking a picture of both of you when they sign it). Having them sign some forms or sign up for activities like training may also reinforce their commitment.

A well thought out pre-boarding can make the transition seem more like a calculated chess move than a wait for the lottery announcement. Not only does pre-boarding prevent attrition, it is also a great way to build loyalty towards the company and most importantly their time to effectiveness.

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