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Focus on 2024: Optimizing Pre-boarding and Onboarding

Operations leaders are looking to optimize pre-boarding and onboarding in 2024. Read more for a quick overview on setting new hires up for success.

Onboarding One-Pager
By: Andrea Meyer, Content Manager

Onboarding One-Pager

The 2024 in Focus series highlights some what our customers and prospects have shared with us about what they’re focusing on for 2024. In this second installment in the series, we’ll cover optimizing pre-boarding and onboarding processes. In case you missed it, check out the first series installment, where we discussed employee retention for cost savings in 2024. 

Pre-boarding and onboarding are the first steps in what is hopefully a long and thriving employee journey. But early attrition rates in contact centers are high, and for those who do stay on, it is imperative to set them up with the skills and agency they need to deliver a top-notch customer experience.  

Pre-boarding versus Onboarding 

Pre-boarding and onboarding are often conflated; it is critical to recognize the distinctions to create an effective strategy for each.  In essence: 

Pre-boarding occurs between offer acceptance and the first day, usually consisting of payroll information, sending equipment, and waiting on background checks. This is also a period of low engagement, which can lead to first-day ghosting. Preboarding strategies should focus on keeping the new hire engaged while offering a personalized experience and smooth transition. 

Onboarding starts on the new hire’s first day and typically lasts  90 days. This is a time of continuing the transition and the new hire becoming more acquainted with their role and responsibilities, as well as the organization and its policies and processes. This is also a time of becoming proficient with training and building the skillsets and relationships needed to deliver top performance – and strategies should reflect these goals. 

The Challenges 

The early part of the employment journey is prone to various challenges, including: 

Disengagement Feeling disengaged during pre-boarding can lead to first-day ghosting. Disengagement and a lack of guidance during onboarding prevents optimal learning and the building of relationships and skill sets. 

Job shock This occurs when a new hire feels that their role is different than what they interviewed for. This leads to frustration and a lower-performing employee over the long term, if not outright attrition. 

Feelings of isolation Agents may feel disengaged and discouraged without a sense of community or support, leading to below-target performance and turnover. This is an especially prevalent issue for remote and hybrid teams but can affect anyone.  

Tips for Smooth and Successful Pre-boarding and Onboarding 

Pre-boarding and onboarding are crucial times for new hires – it can be considered a make-or-break period. Below are a few tips to keep your new hires engaged, retained, and set up for success in 2024: 

Avoid pre-boarding radio silence
The time between offer acceptance and the first day is often a period of low engagement which boosts the risk of first-day attrition. Take steps to regularly engage new hires, such as assigning a point of contact to engage the new hire, sending team introduction videos, and starting IT onboarding early.  

Get new hires aligned
For new hires, alignment is critical. This starts with aligning them with their role responsibilities and expectations, as well as their objectives and goals. New hires should also be aligned with company basics, such as mission, structure, strategy, and organizational objectives at the start of their tenure.  

Engage and guide your new hires
Creating a sense of engagement and inclusiveness for new hires is critical to their long-term success. (This is especially relevant for remote and hybrid teams.) A few recommendations: 

  • Enable managers to meaningfully connect with new hires. This should include regular pulse and wellness checks and measuring real-time progress. (To make this easier on managers, consider providing them with tools to easily identify gaps and prioritize who to coach.) 
  • Encourage a culture of learning and collaboration by implementing social sharing. This not only helps new hires build their skill sets but will also help build camaraderie and a positive company culture. 
  • Take time to recognize onboarding achievements, and offer recognition with virtual kudos, a milestone badge, or sending congrats in a team chat. Also, recognize tenured employees who take the time to collaborate and share knowledge with their new colleagues. 

Fight the forgetting curve
The training process can be a bit overwhelming for anyone. In fact, it can often be described as trying to sip from a firehose! To reinforce learning and aid knowledge retention, facilitate short, interactive role-play simulations and send regular knowledge checks (complete with quizzes!) to supplement training. And to make the entire process more efficient, leverage AI to send additional, targeted training based on performance and knowledge gaps. Finally, make it easy for new hires to find the answers to frequently-asked questions.  

Gamify the experience
The application of game mechanics and elements (e.g., leaderboards, badges, levels, points, etc.) to a non-game context, gamification taps into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators that spur engagement. This helps further bolster the onboarding experience by recognizing and rewarding milestones and keeping employees connected to their team and their manager. When tied to goals, gamification drives motivation and engagement and results in faster time to proficiency, better overall performance, and a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment – all leading to an improved customer experience. 

Optimize processes
Gathering feedback is a critical part of creating robust pre-boarding and onboarding experiences. Request feedback from both attritted and onboarded new hires on how they viewed their experience, including questions about what they liked, what could have been better (and how it can be improved), why they decided to leave or stay, and any other input. Be sure to gather this feedback during and after the process for the best insights.  

For over a decade, Centrical has helped leading organizations across industries and the globe set their workforce up for success at every stage of the employee lifecycle. The Centrical platform provides every element necessary, including advanced gamification, AI-powered microlearning, augmented coaching, real-time performance insights, and Voice of Employee. Learn more about Centrical by visiting our website, watching our platform in action with a quick preview, and requesting your personalized overview today.  

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