The first day for a new employee is when they decide whether they want to cleave to the organization or spend their days searching for a new position. The first day sets the stage for how they will work within, and engage with, your company moving forward. Since the first day is so crucial, it’s often what we focus on, to the detriment of pre-boarding. Pre-boarding comes after recruitment, interviewing and the offer stages but before the new hire’s first day. Pre-boarding processes are designed to create a welcoming environment for your newest employee, before they even walk through the door and settle into their new workspace.

The pre-boarding process can coincide with onboarding but it has to be in a very structured and organized way. Pre-boarding sets companies up for success on that crucial first day. Organizations with a standard onboarding process garner 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater new hire retention rate. Make pre-boarding a part of your onboarding process: 

Schedule it.

While schedules can make people feel like a process is rigid or required, it doesn’t have to. Create a list of goals for the new hire (and his or her managers) to hit and create timelines for them to do so with a new hire process flow chart. Make sure that you consistently check up on how these goals are progressing. 60% of companies in a survey stated they do not set any milestones or concrete goals for new hires. Whether you work on a daily, weekly, or even monthly plan, set the expectations way ahead of time, with your internal team and with your new hire.

Create a welcoming environment.

People may not do it anymore, but there was a reason for the Neighborhood Welcome Wagon. It put new families at ease, gave them the information they needed to get settled and allowed all the established families a chance to check out the new kids on the block. You should institute a welcome wagon at work. Send out a packet that includes a little map, any parking or badge information, pictures of the new hires’ new teammates or supervisor and in some cases, notes of welcome to improve new hire productivity. Don’t forget to include unwritten rules like dress codes, lunchroom etiquette and crucial meeting times. Follow up your packet with a group of friendly employees who shepherd the new employee around at designated times to give them a sense of belonging (on his or her first day). After all, it may kickoff a coworker friendship! 70% of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life.

Leave no detail unspoken.

No one wants to be standing awkwardly while they wait for the IT guy to set up their computer two hours into their first day. Not only does this put the rest of the office at a disadvantage, it makes the new hire feel like a bother. It’s frustrating and sets a bad tone for the rest of the day. Instead, set up the new employee workspace well in advance of the first day. Leave post-its directing them to the supply closet or giving them tips on navigating their new stand up desk. You can even send them a picture of their space to them during pre-boarding so they know you’re excited to have them there!

Mentorship works.

Look, mentors don’t have to be 75-year old employees who can show all the whippersnappers the ropes. They can be newer folks, from a different department, or even those who are a little lower on the totem pole. This mentoring program is for showing the new employee just how things work in the office and how to access and follow the unspoken rules of your unique culture. The mentor can be assigned before the new hire’s first day and should be encouraged to stop by on the new hire’s first day to give them a friendly welcome! Once a week check-ins can be enough to get a new employee engaged quickly

Commit to Work-Life Balance.

Creating a work family may not be high on your list of priorities but studies show that those with a friend at work are more engaged and productive than those who don’t. Build balance into your organization with activities and affinity groups that employees can join. Recognize that this person just (likely) left a work family and tribe and will want to create a new one in your organization. Schedule lunches, point out teamwork opportunities and give them chances to mingle with their new tribe.

Bio: Christine Marino

Christine is the Chief Revenue Officer of Click Boarding, LLC, a company that offers employee onboarding software and solutions. She is responsible for the sales, marketing and business development strategies. Leveraging her 18+ years of experience in the Human Capital Management space, Christine drives company growth through strategic partner relationships as well new customer acquisitions across the small to large enterprise markets.

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