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    Onboarding after COVID: Why preboarding matters

    Thanks to a certain global pandemic, the future of work is in a state of flux, and business leaders the world over are being forced to consider that we aren’t likely to return to a pre-COVID norm - at least not anytime soon.
    Deloitte Blog Quote (1)

    So what does that mean for onboarding?

    As with anything, there will be different impacts for different organizations.

    For those who have invested in digital, integrated onboarding solutions, the changes will amount to a shift of focus, rather than a full overhaul.

    But for organizations with a more ‘traditional’ approach, substantial adjustments will need to be made to support the majority of new hire processes moving exclusively into the digital realm.

    In this 3-part blog series, we’re going to talk you through the changes we expect to see in the onboarding space, and how they will impact each stage of the onboarding lifecycle.

    Let’s get started with preboarding!

    Defining preboarding

    Preboarding is the process of engaging your new hires from the moment they accept a job offer, through until their first day on the job.

    The process should alleviate new hires' first-day fears, give them the tools to be up & running faster, and ultimately drive engagement and retention.

    The importance of preboarding

    Preboarding can be described as the ‘digital-bridge’ between recruitment & employment and has always been an integral part of onboarding.

    It allows HR to get ahead of the curve and start connecting with new hires early, and it encourages onboardees to start exploring their new work place on their own time.

    Good preboarding touches on all 4 core areas of employee onboarding:

    Talmundo Check - PURPLE Compliance
      Is your new hire legally ready to represent your company?

    Talmundo Check - PURPLE Clarification
      Does your new hire fully understand the job and what is expected of them?

    Talmundo Check - PURPLE Connection
      Will your new hire feel like a part of the family when they arrive at the office?

    Talmundo Check - PURPLE Culture
      Can your new hire navigate the spoken AND unspoken aspects of your company culture?

    Why preboarding matters

    Historically, a good preboarding process has three big benefits:

    1 Safeguards your recruitment process 

    On average, 31% of employees quit within their first 6 months of employment.That’s bad news for HR because recruiting is expensive, costing (on average) €4494 per new hire in talent acquisition costs alone, to say nothing of lost productivity and skill-gaps.

    A strong preboarding process has been shown to increase retention in the first 6 months of employment, and reduce the number of non-starters (new hires who leave abandon employment before landing on day 1).

    2 Boosts your employer brand.

    84% of job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer is an important factor when making decisions on where to apply.

    So it’s clear that a strong employer brand is key to attracting top talent.

    Good preboarding is a prime time to showcase that brand.

    Think about it, you’ve just spent the last 3 weeks being wooed by the talent acquisition team, you get the job, sign the contract, and are told you’ll start in a month. Then...nothing. You spend the next four weeks feeling disconnected from your new employer, your first-day jitters grow and you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision.

    But imagine the alternative. You receive a welcome pack with company swag and a signed card in the post. You get access to a virtual office tour and are invited to a pre-start meet & greet so you can get to know your colleagues. There’s even some short tutorials to get you up-to-speed on the kind of tech you’ll be using.

    Which of those two experiences would have you running to social media to gush about your new employer? Or telling each and every one of your friends they should apply for the latest vacancy?

    3 Preps your new hires for successful onboarding

    Onboarding can be an overwhelming process. In fact, new hires frequently have upwards of 50 activities to complete in a standard onboarding journey.

    A solid preboarding process allows you to drip-feed many of these tasks to onboardees before they step foot in the office, freeing up time in the first week to focus on the things that matter, like social connection and integration, rather than tedious paperwork.

    The COVID effect

    Preboarding has always been a predominantly digital process, so it won’t see the same level of systematic change that the larger onboarding process will experience, but there will be impacts.

    These are the 4 main shifts we expect to see:

    Organizations placing more importance on the preboarding process
    Zap PurplePink

    One of the main things we’re hearing from the recruitment sector is that new hires need to be more informed than ever going into new positions. With so much uncertainty around health and job security, it’s important to be as transparent as possible with the information we DO have.

    Expect to see preboarding used to provide new staffers with plenty of information on company health & safety policies and working from home allowances, as well as showcasing initiatives the organization has invested in since the pandemic hit.

    Organizations placing more importance on the preboarding process
    Zap PurplePink

    Preboarding has typically been the domain of larger-scale organizations and/or office-based industries.

    Expect to see this change as small and medium-sized businesses develop their own preboarding processes to ensure they attract and retain the best-of-the-best in these uncertain times.

    We’ll also see preboarding spread to more industries, in particular those that deal face-to-face with the public such as frontline retail and foodservice. Businesses won’t want to take any chances with health and safety and will likely utilize the process to bring their workers up-to-speed before day one.

    More collaboration between recruitment and talent management
    Zap PurplePink

    Traditionally, the responsibility of preboarding lies with the core HR team, with recruitment handing the reigns over as soon as the contract is signed. Learning & development (or talent management) usually join the party a little later once the new hire is more settled.

    Expect to see the lines blur as these groups begin to use preboarding as a bridge between the various stages of talent acquisition and integration.

    We’re likely to see an increase in pre-start training, as well as an influx of content that backs up the promises made during the recruitment process such as benefit packages, sick leave, and career development opportunities.

    All this will be for the good as new hires experience a more streamlined, informed process than pre-COVID.

    Preboarding being used as a jumpstart on productivity
    Zap PurplePink

    We’ve already touched on it above, but there is going to be a big uptick in pre-start training and development.

    Many organizations have seen dramatic dips in profitability in the last 6 months, and they’ll be needing their new hires to hit the ground running.

    Expect to see preboarding become a more measured new hire statistic with processes moving from optional extras to mandatory requirements.


    The Takeaway?

    What we can see is that preboarding is going to become an even more important part of the new hire puzzle in the wake of COVID-19.

    As an already predominantly digital process, it is well-positioned to provide a lot of extra value for both HR teams and new hires and, if used correctly, can be leveraged to minimize onboardees fears of returning to the workforce post-pandemic.

    So start exploring your preboarding strategy today and put your organization in the best position to support tomorrow's new recruits.

    Want to learn how to build a great post-COVID preboarding strategy? Watch our free webinar and get to work!

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    Topics: Preboarding , Featured
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