Today, pretty much everyone knows the importance of onboarding. For those of you who need a quick reminder: onboarding is the sum of actions/events/meetings/etc. taking place from the moment a new hire starts on their first day. Often, it’s on this day that they receive their computer, their work email address, that they have to fill in a bunch of forms and, for the luckiest ones: receive their welcome guide (sometimes digitally).

During the first couple of weeks in their new position, freshly hired employees will most likely tour the various company departments to meet their new colleagues and then be invited for a team lunch or an after-work event to add a slightly more informal touch. 

But for this to happen, new recruits first need to actually show up on their first day of work. 

Have you never, as a recruiter, had the bitter experience of a candidate who, after accepting your offer, changes their mind before D-day? More generally speaking, you’ve probably heard about the phenomenon of No show or Ghosting.

To avoid these kinds of situations, companies increasingly focus on pre-boarding. Let’s take a closer look at this:

What is pre-boarding?

Pre-boarding is the sum of the actions and activities presented to a person who has accepted a job offer from the moment they sign the offer to the moment they set foot in the office on their first official day. The purpose of pre-boarding is to:

  • Reduce the risk of a candidate changing their mind: in an increasingly competitive recruitment environment, there is always a chance that your candidate gets another, more attractive offer or uses yours to negotiate better terms with their current employer. Besides the competition part, there is the fact that changing jobs is always stressful and can be experienced as a truly life-changing event. As such, it’s possible that a candidate questions whether or not they have carefully weighed the pros and cons and eventually decides not to join your organization.
  • Save time on onboarding: everything that is already covered during the pre-boarding period is no longer necessary during the candidate’s onboarding. It’s possible that, by adding a pre-boarding period to your onboarding program, the latter becomes a little ‘lighter’ and that candidates are operational faster.  
  • Offer an emotional experience: it is necessary to distinguish between pre-boarding and onboarding. While onboarding often involves a mainly logistical and administrative integration of new hires, pre-boarding is also focused on emotion (meetings, discovering the office premises and perks such as free coffee, table tennis…).
  • Pre-boarding as a seduction operation: the whole purpose of an emotional experience is to make the future recruit feel expected, welcome, and at home in their new team.

Convinced about the value of pre-boarding? Here are some guidelines to follow.

Welcome email (or postcard)

It may only be an email or postcard to you, but for the recipient – your future colleague – it means a lot. Receiving a welcome message from your future manager and team members makes people feel welcome and expected.

Shall we go for lunch?

A new job is, first of all, a new team, new people with whom we will spend nearly 40 hours a week. Being invited to a lunch, or to an after-work event is a perfect occasion for new hires to chat with future colleagues in order to get to know them.

It’s the thought that counts

A small present like a notebook, a coffee cup or a pen is always nice to get. Yes, these things are goodies but they make people feel that they are part of the team. If on top of that some of these goodies are meant for your better half and/or your children, the attention becomes even more personalized.

Ready to party?

Is your company organizing an internal event, like for example a midsummer party, soon? Inviting the newcomer implicitly shows them that we are projecting ourselves with them. And for an event that is nicer than, for example, your monthly meeting.

Ultimately, pre-boarding is an effective way to introduce your company and its culture to a new recruit. It’s people’s first impression as an employee and the beginning of their (hopefully) long and happy collaborative experience with you as a company.


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