What is preboarding
and why is it important?

The very single moment between the hiring decision and the job starting is essential. In many ways, it defines how smoothly the rest of the employee’s career will flow.

That’s why you need to know about preboarding employees. You don’t need to wait for a second chance to make a first impression. There can be it, or not, depending on your newcomer’s personality and your company’s opportunities, but the fact is that almost 90% of employees are totally unhappy with their company’s onboarding. And almost 60% plan to leave their employer shortly after employment, especially in the case of remote work. These are statistics conducted by Gallup and Paychex agencies. Remember, turnover is quite costly if it isn’t planned specifically!

The solution is to embrace new hires warmly, without both coercion or neglect. And the ordinary onboarding courses aren’t enough here. As in the case of casual human relationships or networking, the first impression defines the subsequent communication and interaction at work. It not only leaves a bright memory in the newcomer’s mind but also forms a basic conclusion that guides a person during their actions. So, we need to work with it, and that’s the subject of our article.

Preboarding is a set of preliminary practices that can be unified and standardized based on your own data about what works best with hiring.

What is preboarding?

To see what does preboard mean, let’s start with the much more popular term: onboarding.
(that’s true: as of 2/26/2024, the Bing search for preboarding has only about 40,000 results, while the search for onboarding has more than 2,000,000).

So, onboarding is the stage between hire and work routine, when an employee becomes fully involved in your workflow. It starts with getting acquainted with your work routines and continues with a variety of educational courses, regular meetings, tasks, surveys, and reports, so a newcomer gradually becomes a part of your team.
Subsequently, the preboarding meaning is to be the first stage of the onboarding process. The reason for distinguishing it is that it enables managers to organize new hires in the best way to work for the company. It includes:

  • welcoming them;

  • answering all their questions;

  • managing administrative and bureaucratic issues;

  • deploying welcome sessions;

  • introducing direct work responsibilities.
We’ll review each point thoroughly, deepening our preboarding definition and showing various approaches to the first impression. In the end, we’ll provide you with a clever checklist so you’ll use it directly during the next hiring! You can empower yourself with various research data to formulate your strategy. This APA review, while ten years old, is a good start. Ensure a good familiarity with human psychology when creating introductory activities for new hires, as you need to attract and retain them without taking their time.

Preboarding or pre-boarding

The first option is true.

It is short for “pre-onboarding,” not “pre-boarding,” so it doesn’t take place before the hire. The preboarding process is a set of activities to introduce a newcomer and solve crucial issues arising right after the hire, such as bureaucratic tasks and answers to questions. Onboarding starts after, when a person is already at work and continues until you decide that they can efficiently work on their own.

Onboarding vs Preboarding: What's the Difference

So now let’s look closer.

As mentioned, onboarding is much well-known process, but preboarding is no less important, as it starts the employee’s acquaintance with their job. While preboarding and onboarding work at the same stage of the employment cycle, successful preboarding means quick administrative task resolution and long-term positive associations with everything at work. Therefore

According to the Brandon Hall Group study, successful onboarding ensures 82% more employee retention, so the first impression really matters. And, preboarding is an indispensable part of this process. Without it, the whole onboarding will be messy and boring. Let’s compare both processes to see, why.
Starts immediately after the hire.
Is a set of events just after the hire to embrace a new hire seamlessly.
Focuses on administrative questions that must be resolved after the hire.
Works with the newcomer’s first impression to ensure efficient cooperation.
Takes a day or two, with several one-time events, such as welcome meetings.
Starts on the first working day.
Is a continuous process during the first day at work.
Focuses on actual work questions and routines.
Works as the orientation at the workplace to ensure full involvement in the job process.
Takes up to several weeks, with usually recurring events, such as courses.
Both processes are based on education and mentorship and have clear milestones to fulfill.
Both processes use surveys and tasks to reinforce knowledge and see the newcomer’s readiness to work
Both processes are dedicated to introducing the newcomer to the company’s staff, corporate culture, and direct responsibilities.
Therefore, if we compare employee preboarding vs onboarding, we can see how to combine these equally important things. First, you can create a standardized sequence of administrative tasks to fulfill them in a few hours after the hire. Second, you can arrange several meetings, after which your newcomer will start to connect with their new team members on their own.

Let’s dive deeper into these practices!

Employee preboarding: Best practices

We’ve only started to talk about best practices, so we’ll broaden the subject. Based on several research articles, we’ll summarize four practices that align with the process best.
Create a schedule
of employee preboarding to apply it instantly after the hire. While you can personalize it for each newcomer, a clear set of tasks, guidelines, and timetables will speed up and facilitate the process heavily.
Focus on the corporate culture
as it gives you the opportunity to set clear expectations and get the newcomer acquainted with your standards. In addition, they’ll see how you usually communicate and what is considered good and wrong in your teams, so they’ll be able to align with that.
Personalize every schedule element
based on your new hire’s personality. There are various instruments for evaluating the personality, and trust your intuition, too. After launching the standard administrative procedures, take some time and think about the newcomer’s motivations and desires, so you’ll
Choose a proper pre- and onboarding software
which we’ll discuss later. Automatization of all processes not only saves your time but also enables you to organize remote workers with efficiency similar to face-to-face communication.

How to preboard employees

To summarize all knowledge, strategies, and practices, you can save our preboarding checklist for new hires.
Start with a welcome message
to initiate the process. The “first impression of a first impression” is especially important here, as it’ll define the whole path.
Be warm and welcoming
to those who sincerely want to work with you, as it’ll determine their desire to stay. Arrange a series of welcome meetings to introduce the newcomer and show your usual workday.
Focus on administrative tasks
right after the hire, mildly and continuously introducing the new hire to them and answering all their questions. They are usually already standardized, so create a single algorithm for administrative actions.
are the separate checkpoint itself. Be sure to answer them, stay connected, don’t shut them up, and encourage asking, as it’ll only provoke their motivation!
Introduce all tools
software, and approaches you usually use during work. It includes your engines, instruments, design tools, project management, learning management, communication software, AI instruments you work with regularly, sales practices, and so on.
Be ready to listen
Be ready to listen to the new hire’s propositions, ideas, and conclusions so they’ll see your reaction and connect. In addition, you may really benefit from some smart ideas!
Introduce the job responsibilities you expect from your new hire so they can try to probe them. It’ll reduce tensions, boost motivation, and give you rich material for feedback and improvement.

Best preboarding software

So we come here. What’s next?

To arrange an efficient preboarding of new hires, you need a digital hub where you’ll remain connected and equipped with necessary tools and knowledge.

We believe that learning management software, LMS, is the best option for preboarding, as it concentrates on the efficient education and knowledge management, while modern workflows are knowledge-intensive. Simple tasks can already be speeded up or even automatized using AI, so it’s better today to focus on clever decisions rather than rely on the administrative resource too much. Such overreliance led to the disconnect between work and education, while both employers and employees are dissatisfied with a lack of education perspectives.

That’s why smartly designed online courses can enhance digital preboarding greatly, showing what exactly need to be done and how to reach it, increasing both employees’ competence and satisfaction. Along with that, the knowledge base of the LMS ensures the constant access to the information needed, motivation tools guarantee the high completion levels, and communication interface maintain connections in the team. Everyone is happy and efficient!

Choosing the right LMS can be tricky, but everything is easier if you know which tools you need for your objectives. Do you need to focus on customization? Or advanced instruments? Or you need an open-source platform? We suggest you to create a list of questions about which features you need and then answer them thoroughly. With that, you can contact support teams of your chosen platforms and then make the final decision efficiently.

So, preboarding defines the first impression of your newcomers and resolves the basic questions such as administrative ones. It enables you to introduce newcomers to your teams, corporate culture, and work routines. The clever usage of educational materials is crucial, enabling direct involvement of newcomers into the work and increasing their competence.

Good luck, and use our checklist for the maximum efficiency!

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