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What is Preboarding? An Insightful Overview for Employers

Preboarding begins before day one, ensuring a smooth transition for new hires. Discover tips and tools to engage and prepare employees effectively.

The employment offer is made and accepted, and your new hire is taking the first step in their new employee journey: preboarding. This can be an exciting (if somewhat anxious) time for the new hire but is uncertain for the hiring organization because of the risk of early attrition – in particular, first-day ghosting.  

And the key to mitigating this risk? A strong preboarding program that keeps the new hire engaged.  

In this article, we’ll speak to more preboarding in general, recommended preboarding strategies and best practices, and things to include in your preboarding checklist to keep your new hires engaged.  

The Preboarding Process Explained 

The preboarding process spans the time between offer acceptance and the new hire’s first official day on the job. During this time, the new hire should receive essential information and resources to help them transition into (and feel welcome at) their new company.  

Why is Preboarding Important?  

The new hire hasn’t clocked in yet, but pre-boarding is an important part of their employee journey – and keeping new hires engaged is critical.  The process and level of engagement can determine whether the new hire shows up to work on their first day, or if they become a first-day ghost-er. This can also set the foundation for company loyalty and how the employee will thrive once onboarded.  

Benefits of Preboarding 

The benefits of a strong preboarding strategy start with early connection and engagement, which serve as a strong foundation for the employee experience. Other benefits of a positive preboarding experience include: 

  • Reduced turnover 
  • Lower first-day anxiety for the new hire 
  • More efficient onboarding 
  • Faster time to proficiency  
  • Open communications 
  • Elevated employer branding                                                                                                                                                                                             

Onboarding vs Preboarding 

Onboarding and preboarding are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are unique entities with differing objectives and require separate strategies – so, preboarding and onboarding checklists will differ. 

Preboarding is the period between offer acceptance and the new hire’s first day. The objective during preboarding is to prepare the new hire for the transition by introducing them to the company, its mission and culture, and their role. During this time, the strategy will include welcoming the new hires and sending onboarding paperwork, tech credentials, equipment for remote employees, and other pre-first-day items. 

Onboarding, on the other hand, starts on the new hire’s first day and depending on the company/role, can last from 90 days to a year. This is where the transition, training, and coaching start, with benchmarks set to gauge progress and areas of improvement. Onboarding strategies include initial and progressive training, mentoring and coaching, and completing team-building tasks.  

One major similarity between onboarding and preboarding? Each is a high-risk timeframe for attrition, which makes having an engaging, interactive, and robust preboarding strategy critical. 

7 Preboarding Strategies 

A strong preboarding strategy will personalize the experience and keep new hires engaged. Below are some tried-and-true preboarding strategies:  

Keep engagement front-of-mind
Your preboarding strategy should keep new hires engaged. The more communication and engagement, the more likely your new hire is to show up on their first day.  

Assign a “buddy”
Every preboarding strategy should include a point of contact to engage with the new hire. The “buddy” can check in with the new hire regularly with updates, onboarding documents, and any onboarding and training modules 

Start learning early
Share microlearning modules that introduce new hires to your organization’s history, mission, values, and expectations for a much more engaging and meaningful preboarding experience.  

Make Introductions
Don’t wait for the first day to make introductions. Have the new hire’s supervisor and team send an introductory video – and encourage the new hire to do the same! 

Give tech access
Provide the new hire with IT access before their first day, including their e-mail address, platform access, passwords, and process instructions. This makes the new role more “real,” and saves time on the first day. 

Inspire your new hires
Today’s employees aren’t just looking for a paycheck – they are looking for personal and professional growth. Showcase the stories of veteran employees who progressed within the company so the new hire can see what is possible.  

Gamify the experience
Gamification should be part of any pre-boarding strategy. New hires might be more motivated to complete their paperwork and learning modules if they are earning redeemable points and getting a head start on ranking on a leaderboard. 

4 Best Practices for Preboarding 

We’ve just covered a few preboarding strategies. Below, we’ll share a few general best practices for interacting with new hires and keeping them engaged during the preboarding process: 

Be clear and consistent
Keep your preboarding communications clear and consistent. Provide new hires with information about what to expect on their first day, any documents they need to complete beforehand, and details about the preboarding process. 

Check in on the regular
Schedule regular check-ins with new hires leading up to their start date. This provides an opportunity to address any questions or concerns, clarify information, and demonstrate ongoing support. 

Make preboarding personal
Each new hire is unique, and their experience should be, too. Take a human-focused approach and tailor the preboarding process to individual needs and roles.  

Optimize your preboarding strategies
Finally, optimize your preboarding process by gathering feedback from new hires to better understand and anticipate specific expectations, needs, and concerns. 

Preboarding Checklist

We’ve covered preboarding strategies and best practices for the preboarding process. Below are a few ideas for your preboarding checklist to help keep your new hires engaged:  

Welcome message
Send a preliminary welcome message that confirms the start date, role, and location. Also include pertinent information for the first day, such as login instructions for remote employees, and parking/check-in information for those going to the office.  

A welcome gift
Create a personalized welcome package for new hires as part of your preboarding strategy. A warm message and some swag will help keep new hires excited about their new role and the company. 

Sending a list of frequently asked questions can truly help prepare the new hire for their first day and help set them up for long-term success.  

Watch the Centrical platform in action with a quick preview.  

Meet Centrical — #1 Performance Management Gamification Platform 

Centrical’s Performance eXperience platform provides a robust, gamified solution that accelerates time to proficiency and helps mitigate the risk of early attrition. Below are a few key elements:   

Microlearning delivers bite-sized training and learning and drives engagement. AI triggers new learning module delivery based on progress and knowledge gaps.  

AI Microlearning streamlines frontline content creation and leverages generative AI to enable the fast, efficient, and scalable creation of preboarding materials.  

Gamification motivates and engages new hires by rewarding progress and performance with redeemable points, badges, levels, leaderboards, and kudos.  

Summary and Key Takeaways 

We’ve covered a few elements around the preboarding process, including what preboarding is, its benefits, preboarding strategies and best practices, and a quick preboarding checklist. Below are a few key takeaways: 

  • The preboarding period is the time between offer acceptance and the new hire’s first day, with key objectives being to engage the new hire early, provide a smooth transition, and introduce them to their company and role.  
  • Preboarding strategies must be personalized and engaging. Common and successful strategies include assigning a point of contact to keep the new hire engaged and making the job more “real” with early IT access, team introductions, and other personalized steps.  
  • Taking a gamified approach to a preboarding strategy is an excellent way to motivate new hires to complete preboarding tasks while keeping them engaged, and increasing the likelihood that they show up for their first day.  
  • Best practices for preboarding include clear and consistent communication, optimizing the process through new hires’ feedback, and overall providing a personalized and engaging experience. 

For over a decade, Centrical’s Performance eXperience Platform has helped leading organizations across the globe deliver an engaging, effective pre-boarding experience. To learn more about Centrical, and how we can benefit your organization we invite you to check out our case studies, watch our platform in action with a quick preview, or schedule your personalized demo today.   

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