Why is the time between job offer and first day so important?
Even if only a week or two passes between a signed job offer and the
first day of work, those few days are long enough for your new hire
to second-guess everything, from their decision to take the new job,
to their role at your organization. During this critical time, HR
professionals should build excitement and engagement, rather than go
radio silent. Done well, these actions benefit both new hires and
How preboarding benefits new hires
Research by the Human Capital Institute found that around 58% of onboarding
programs focus on “paperwork and processes” rather than
specialized role training or integration with the company culture.
While new hire paperwork is an important step in the process for HR,
it’s also a potential distraction on an employee’s first day.
By moving simple information gathering and paperwork tasks to the
preboarding period — like completing W-4 forms, scanning
identification cards, and selecting benefits — the HR team can
re-center the onboarding experience on personalized training,
shadowing, or culture integration. On their first day, new employees
can immediately focus on their new role rather than paperwork.
While reducing first-day paperwork is a notable employee benefit,
the preboarding period is a crucial time for building excitement,
too. Employers who actively communicate with new hires before day
one show that they’re equally as excited about the future. This
active communication may also reduce the employee’s doubts or fears,
as it shows your organization’s dedication to ongoing communication
and employee happiness.
How preboarding benefits employers
On average, companies spend
24 days and around $4,000 hiring just one new employee. This
cost and time to hire
may be even higher for specialized roles or those with high market
demand. Preboarding activities may help prevent organizations from
losing their newest employees — and the considerable investment the
company has made in hiring them — before they even start work.
Additionally, a survey of more than 1,500 HR professionals found
that new hires with a
negative onboarding experience were twice as likely to seek new opportunities
than those with a positive one. A poor onboarding experience
typically only lasts for a few days or a week and focuses primarily
on paperwork, whereas a more effective
and engaging onboarding program starts early, lasts longer, and
includes multiple touch points with members of HR, the employee’s
team, and leadership.
The time between offer and your employee’s first day is crucial for
building engagement and excitement, especially if the candidate
isn’t able to start immediately. Confident about their new role and
becoming increasingly familiar with the company and your
expectations, new hires are less likely to follow through with any
remaining interviews, accept a counteroffer from their current
employer, or feel any doubt about their choice.
How to successfully engage new hires before their first day
Start by rethinking your onboarding experience as a whole. Since only 1 in 10
employees positively rate the onboarding process with their
employer, this is a good opportunity to revisit how you
introduce new hires to your workplace, train them on required
processes, and integrate them with your company culture. But before
you overhaul your entire onboarding program, think about how to
engage your newest hires, and transition them smoothly into their
Address common concerns or fears in advance
The HR team and hiring managers probably hear the same concerns
repeatedly raised by new hires. For example, if your organization
hires new sales team members frequently, they may express anxiety
about meeting their monthly sales goals, or generating enough
revenue to be considered a valuable member of the team.
You may be able to address and alleviate these common fears before
new employees even know where the break rooms are. For your sales
hires, this might look like providing clear documentation on what
you expect, and specifically clarifying your company’s policy on
sales quotas. For other employees, you might consider providing a
timeline for ramping up production, a schedule for their first week,
or a list of frequently asked questions with detailed answers.
Build on existing excitement
While some new hires may be nervous about meeting the expectations
of their employer or transitioning into a new department, others may
be excited to get started, meet their team, and excel in a new role.
Build on specific factors contributing to this excitement: For
example, allow new employees to “meet” their team early by providing
links to their social media profiles, or even hosting an offsite
lunch. Keeping these positive emotions high may prevent new
employees from second-guessing their decision or following up on
interview requests from other companies.
Which benefits are your new hires most excited about? Build off of
them, too. For example, if your office has a fully stocked kitchen
with an in-house chef, you might invite your new hires to a lunch
with their team before their first day. Or if members of your sales
team have the opportunity to travel frequently, you might send them
to get their passport, or pay for a new suitcase they can use on
their first trip.
Start the onboarding process in advance
Finally, as mentioned earlier, preboarding is a great opportunity to
address tasks that might otherwise take up time on the new hire’s
first day. None of the preboarding tasks should be time-consuming or
directly related to their role, as it’s crucial to pay employees for
any work they do for you, but these few days or weeks leading up to
their start date provide an ample opportunity to take care of
paperwork, provide basic information, and successfully prepare for
the transition to onboarding.
Along with the typical new hire
paperwork and processes, consider which policies and other
information could be provided earlier. Could it be combined into a
company handbook, or even documented in a company wiki? This would
allow the employee to read and learn basic information on their own
time. Documentation like this also benefits your current employees,
since they will have a permanent place to reference for information
on benefits or policies, and won’t need to repeatedly contact HR.
Learn more about successful preboarding from the experts
On Tuesday, August 6, join Hire by Google and Sapling, a leading HRIS, for an engaging panel
discussion on the topic of successfully transitioning your
candidates to employees. Our discussion will highlight advice from
leading hiring and onboarding experts, including:
Rasika Saikia, the head of Google's global onboarding program for
Niki Yu, Director of Employee Success at Copper
Kathy Kelly, Lead Recruiter for Hire by Google
Elisabeth Mann, Talent Acquisition Operations Lead at Aclara
Sign up here or
via the form below to reserve your space and to suggest
questions for our hiring experts to answer during the panel.
We look forward to seeing you on August 6!