Leadership + Management | By Scott Schulte,

The Key to Successful Onboarding is… Pre-boarding?

When it comes to onboarding, the temptation is to think of everything that needs to be done as soon as that person walks in the door. This strategy can be overwhelming, for HR and new hires alike. Especially if the focus is on checking these things off the list as quickly as humanly possible.

So what if we took a different approach? What if, as business and HR professionals, we decided to slow down, back up, and do a little pre-boarding?

Make it a first class experience

It’s no secret that first class passengers get special treatment. They get on the plane before everyone else. They have their own section, their own bathroom, and the super fancy snacks. As for the rest of us? We just stare longingly at those warm towels and champagne flutes as we’re being herded back to our sad, little seats.

How do you want your new hire to feel?

Like a coveted and special addition to the group? Or like a small cog in a crowded wheel? Investing a little bit of time into onboarding will go a long way to make the transition smooth, pleasant, and productive for everyone.

Start before they walk in the door

It’s hard to get excited about a party guest if you don’t know they’re coming.

If you’re not talking about your new hire before they start, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build interest and rapport with the rest of the team. Introduce your new person before he or she actually arrives. This can be done easily in staff meetings or via email, and will set the stage for recognition and positive interactions when they finally arrive.

Not sold on the idea? Consider this example of two very different first day interactions.

First class ticket: “Hey! You must be Mike, our new IT star. We heard you were joining the team!”

From the cheap seats: “Are you part of the cleaning crew? My garbage can is overflowing.”

It’s pretty obvious which scenario is better and more welcoming to your new hire. And it’s very easy to prevent the second scene from playing out.

Want to build excitement with new hires and current staff? Promote your new employees before they even walk in the door, and let the rest of the team know how they fit into the bigger picture.

Communication is key

Just because Tim is replacing Ann doesn’t mean that position will or should stay exactly the same. Take some time to create/update the job description in a way that will allow your new staff member to contribute their greatest value to the organization.

Once you’ve hired that perfect fit, communicate the news to your team.

Be open and clear. Let key people know what things might be different moving forward and why you’re excited about the value the new person will bring. This will avoid pigeonholing of your new hire and alleviate unnecessary comparisons to the person they replaced. It will also make the rest of the team comfortable with where they fit in and how their roles may change or adjust moving forward.

Be specific

When will this person start? Where will they be working? Who will be their direct supervisor?

If you’re a large company, it’s not necessary to alert the entire company on every single new hire, but certainly those on the new person’s team will want to know.

There’s nothing worse than leaving your employees in the dark on things that affect their working environment. Give your staff the information they need to be successful. The more they know, the more valued they feel, and the more excited they will be to welcome and mentor new team members.

Make it a group effort

Successful onboarding is a team sport.

You want your new hire to feel welcomed, valued, and excited about the possibilities. This means they need exposure to more than just their immediate supervisor and occasional training videos.

Bring your employee on with a little fanfare and a lot of interaction with the team. If you’ve got the resources, assign a mentor and/or accountability partner. Plant the seeds that will help your new employees grow into their positions and into the company.

And throw in some fun while you’re at it

Finding a great new employee is exciting. Everything is fresh and everyone is ready to jump in and get a strong start.

As a Human Resources professional, you play a key role in making sure onboarding in a way that is beneficial to the new employee, your current staff, and your HR team. A little pre-boarding excitement and first-class fun will go a long way to making sure that’s what happens.

There’s so much more to employee benefits than policies and premiums. A great benefits broker will make sure you, your employees, and your business are protected. Is your agent looking out for you? At Sonus Benefits, this is what we do for St. Louis employers every day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email