BlogHuman Resources

9 Pre-Onboarding Strategies to Ramp Your New Hires Quickly

Terri James
VP of Product
Human Resources
March 28, 2024

This blog unveils effective pre-onboarding strategies to engage new hires, set clear expectations, and streamline them into their new roles, enhancing early employee experience and retention.

Onboarding Checklist

According to SHRM, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

But a Gallup poll found that only 12% of employees say that their organization does a great job of onboarding.

The high cost of employee turnover makes onboarding extremely valuable and a way for you to differentiate yourself as an employer.

You might not realize, however, that effective onboarding starts before your new hire's first day. Employee pre-onboarding sets your new hires up for success even before they start work.

What is employee pre-onboarding?

Pre-onboarding is the process of preparing your new hire for their first day. It includes communication with your employee, administrative tasks, and advance planning of the onboarding phase.

While pre-onboarding isn't strictly necessary, it prepares your new hire, their team, and the company at large for a successful onboarding process. And effective onboarding can have significant effects on retention and productivity.

So how do you engage in pre-onboarding your new employee? Here are nine steps you can take for your next hire:

1. Send a welcome kit

A welcome kit is a great way to show your new hire that you're excited about having them be a part of your team. It doesn't need to be a huge production – even a small gesture can be meaningful if you put some thought into it.

Percolate's new hire welcome packet

So what should you include in a welcome kit?

A typical one includes a bit of company swag – a water bottle, pen, notepad, maybe a piece of clothing – some necessary paperwork and forms, an employee handbook, some notes on company culture, and a welcome letter. If you're not sure what to include in your own employee welcome kit, we have a guide to 10-must have items.

2. Assign a mentor or buddy

A new hire should feel comfortable talking to their boss or supervisor about work-related questions, but having a mentor or buddy can put them at ease if they want to know things like the best lunch spot nearby, the code for the office bathroom, or which might share some of their interests or hobbies.

Even if you don't have a formal mentorship program, you could ask for volunteers among your current employees. It generally doesn't take much time or effort to answer questions, check in every once in a while, and make your new hire feel welcome.

Let your new hire know that someone will be there to answer their questions, too – it can ease some of the pre-first-day jitters.

3. Invite your hire to a social event

It's nice for a new hire to see some familiar faces on their first day in the office (or on a team Zoom call). Inviting a new employee to a social event before their first day is a great way to start laying the groundwork for good relationships on your team.

If your company is having a happy hour, a weekend retreat, or a Zoom happy hour, invite your new hire, even if they haven't started yet. And if there's nothing planned, consider hosting a casual lunch or coffee meeting with your team to do some introductions.

4. Prepare tech and logins

Will your new hire be getting a computer or any other equipment? Do they need a keycard or fob? Which systems will their accounts need to access? Doing this kind of setup on the first day on the job isn't abnormal, but having it dealt with ahead of time can save a few headaches.

The process you'll need to take to do this depends largely on your IT and HR processes, so work with those teams to streamline as much as you can. And be sure to keep documentation for next time (we'll come back to this point in a moment).

5. Have a plan for job-specific training

Do you have a 30-60-90 plan for your new hire? If not, now is the time to create one. This plan is a great way to keep managers and employees on the same page when it comes to goals for knowledge-building, training, and responsibilities.

This plan can inform a short- and long-term training plan that will set your employee up for success.

Create full-fledged training paths with Journeys in Continu.

Creating an employee training plan like this takes time, but using a system like Continu's Journeys makes the process easier and repeatable so you can provide the most effective training for each new hire as your company grows.

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6. Schedule your new hire's first week

Stepping into a new role is overwhelming – there are people to meet, systems to learn, tasks to complete, and a huge amount of learning to do. Having some structure when you start a new job is both comforting and very useful.

Take some time to schedule some meetings for your new hire's first week. Introductory meetings with their manager, team, direct reports, and any other coworkers are a great way to welcome them to the company. Having them already on the calendar removes a task and provides structure.

Resist the temptation to fill every day with meetings, but get several of the most important ones on the calendar. And don't forget a manager check-in or two just to see how things are going on your employee's first week.

7. Ask for an introduction video

A fun way to introduce your new team member to their coworkers is through a short video. Ask your new hire to record a short video (it doesn't need to be more than a couple minutes) about themselves – it can include a short professional history, interests, introductions to their pets, fun facts, or anything else you'd like to ask for.

Share this video with your team before your new hire starts. They'll feel more familiar with your newest team member and have a few things to talk about on day one, making your new employee feel welcome.

8. Make sure common questions are answered

What are your office hours? What time should your new employee report to the office sign in to Slack on their first day? Do you have a dress code? What's the vacation policy? Are there any rules or guidelines specific to your company that your new hire should know about?

Make a point to answer these questions before your employee starts to ease their anxiety about starting a new job. You could do it with a document in the welcome kit, in a separate email, or in a FAQ document for new employees that you share.

9. Build out a pre-onboarding process and track it

The eight points above cover a lot of ground, from company swag to scheduling to job training. It's a lot of work for you as a manager or human resources professional, but it will make your new hire's start as smooth as possible. They'll feel welcomed, prepared, and excited to start.

To make sure you don't miss any of the steps, document the entire process in a checklist or a project management system. You'll almost certainly be doing this again in the future, so taking the time to outline the steps and resources required will pay off in the long run.

Don't wait to start pre-onboarding

While adding further steps to your employee onboarding process might sound like a lot of work, it's absolutely worth it. We saw that great onboarding can improve retention and that most employees don't feel like their employers are great at onboarding.

The case for an effective onboarding process is clear, and pre-onboarding is the way to get that process off to a good start. By welcoming your new hire, showing them that they're valued, and making their first day as smooth and congenial as possible, they'll be set up for success in their new job.

And that's good for everyone.

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About the Author
Terri James, VP of Product at Continu
Terri James
VP of Product

Terri is the VP of Product at Continu, a modern Learning Management System built to help companies train employees, customers and partners using one platform. For over a decade, Terri has led Continu as a product and is passionate about helping companies build a culture of learning.

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