Developing Long-term Employees Starts Before the First Day

By June 28, 2023HR & Recruitment

Every employer is concerned about both high turnover and employee retention. The ability to keep employees and limit their company’s employee turnover rate is one of the key measures of company success.

What makes long-term employees important is the fact that they are the backbone of the company culture. long-term employees are an invaluable support system for the company, due to their strong knowledge base and their positive example for new employees.

Employers turn themselves inside and out looking for a way to create long-term employees, however, that isn’t necessary. long-term employees start out as new employees. When you get your employees started right, they are much more likely to stay.

The value of a good start

The value of a good start to employment can’t be overestimated.

During the first year of employment, approximately 40% of new employees will leave their position. This is a sobering statistic, made even more scary by the fact that it can cost half to two times the salary of the former employee to find and hire their replacement.

The good news is that a strong onboarding plan can increase retention rates by up to 50% for new employees, putting them on the path to become long-term employees

Pre-onboarding for long-term success

New employees are excited to start a new job, to learn how their company works and to hit the ground running. But too often, their first day, really, their first few days, are spent on the administrative tasks related to the beginning of employment.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many of those administrative tasks can be completed before the start date, making for a more effective and productive first day at a new job. This can be accomplished by pre-onboarding.

What is pre-onboarding?

Pre-onboarding, also known as pre-employment onboarding, refers to the process of engaging and preparing new hires for their upcoming role and integration into the organization before their official start date.

Pre-onboarding focuses on activities and interactions that occur after a candidate has accepted a job offer and before they physically join the company. Pre-onboarding aims to set the stage for a smooth transition and a positive onboarding experience for new employees and can help those employees feel engaged.

What does pre-onboarding engagement look like?

By engaging with new hires before their first day, companies can create a sense of belonging and reduce the anxiety that often comes with starting a new job. It also allows new hires to ask questions and get a better understanding of what they can expect when they start working.

Pre-hire engagement can take many forms, including:

  1. Welcome communication—Initiating contact with the new hire through a personalized welcome email. This email should express excitement about their upcoming start, and provide initial information about the onboarding process. This will help the new hire feel personally invested in coming to work for the company.
  2. Paperwork and documentation—Walk the person through the completion of necessary paperwork and administrative tasks, such as employment contracts, tax forms, and company policies. This can be done electronically to streamline the process.
  3. New hire information package—Provide new hires with an information package that includes relevant documents, like an employee handbook, company policies, and any other onboarding materials. This package should include details about all the benefits employees have, such as vacation days and other paid benefit time, retirement plan packages, and health and wellness plans.
  4. Technology setup—Assist new hires with the setup of their technology and ensure they have the necessary access to systems, tools, and software they will need for their work. When technology is setup correctly, the new hire will have higher productivity on their first days of employment.
  5. Pre-employment training or onboarding modules—Offer pre-employment training materials, videos, or online modules that help new hires familiarize themselves with the company, its culture, and their specific role. This can include information on processes, procedures, company values, and job expectations.
  6. Introduction to key contacts—Share contact information for key personnel, such as their future manager, team members, or mentors. This allows new hires to establish early connections and facilitates communication.
  7. Pre-employment engagement activities—Invite new hires to engage in activities or events that help them connect with the organization and their future colleagues. This can include virtual meet-and-greets, social media group introductions, or participation in online forums or communities.
  8. Address frequently asked questions (FAQs)—Provide a document or resource that addresses common questions new hires may have, such as information about the dress code, parking, transportation, or first-day logistics.

The goal of pre-onboarding is to create a positive and supportive experience for new hires, helping them feel welcome, prepared, and excited about their upcoming role. Pre-onboarding sets the foundation for a successful onboarding process, enhances employee engagement, and contributes to long-term retention.

Pre-onboarding activities help new hires become familiar with the company’s culture, values, and expectations. If done well, it reduces their anxiety and facilitates a smooth transition into their new job.

Best practice strategies for pre-hire engagement

Developing long-term employees starts before the first day of employment. Pre-hire engagement strategies can help employers create a strong foundation for a successful onboarding experience and a transition to long-term employee engagement. Here are some effective strategies for pre-hire engagement:

1. Create a strong employer brand

Employer branding is an essential part of any business in attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent. A strong employer brand can help both workers and potential hires understand what it’s like to work for a company and why they should choose it over other employers.

Employers can create a strong employer brand by showcasing their organization, company culture, business values, and mission through various channels, such as social media, company websites, and job descriptions.

2. Craft effective job descriptions and advertisements

Job descriptions and advertisements are the first touchpoints for potential hires and they will be reviewed by candidates throughout the hiring process and beyond. 

Employers should craft compelling job descriptions and advertisements that accurately reflect the job requirements, benefits, and company culture. Employers should also use inclusive language to attract a diverse pool of candidates.

3. Cultivate relationships with new hires before their start date

Employers can build relationships with new hires before their start date by engaging with them on social media, inviting them to after-hours functions and including them on team emails and other communication. 

By making new hires feel part of the team, companies can help increase their engagement levels and decrease the chance they will decide not to begin employment.

This can help employers understand the new hires’ interests, skills, and career goals, and it can help new employees feel part of the company before their official first day.

4. Prepare the team

Preparing the team for a new hire can help ensure less employee turnover and a smoother onboarding experience. Employers should communicate with the team about the new hire’s role, responsibilities, and start date. They should also assign a mentor or buddy to help the new hire acclimate to the company culture and provide ongoing support.

Pre-hire engagement strategies can help employers create a strong foundation for a successful onboarding experience.

When companies involve the new team in the engagement process, they improve communication and ease team bonding, helping the pre-employee to feel engaged with the team on their first day.

By creating a strong employer brand, crafting effective job descriptions and advertisements, cultivating relationships with new hires, and preparing the team, employers can attract and retain top talent, develop long-term employees and build a strong company culture.

Pre-onboarding red flags—when to worry

During the pre-onboarding process, there may be red flags that employers should be aware of to avoid potential conflict down the road. Some of these red flags include:

  • Dishonest or inconsistent information—If a new hire provides inconsistent or contradictory information throughout the pre-onboarding and onboarding process, it can raise concerns about their honesty and credibility.
  • Negative feedback from peers—One of the most important parts of pre-onboarding and onboarding is team bonding. If peers are concerned, managers would be wise to address any issues as soon as they are noticed.
  • Lack of enthusiasm or interest in the company or position—Coming to work for a new company should be an exciting time. A lack of enthusiasm or interest can be a sign that a pre-hire is not engaged.
  • Overly demanding or unrealistic expectations—New employees tend to look at their future with a new company. But if these expectations are unrealistic, they may point to future disappointment and conflict.

Once a candidate has accepted the job offer, it is important to keep them engaged and excited about their new role. Pre-onboarding strategies can help to accomplish this by providing new hires with the information and resources they need to feel prepared and confident on their first day.

Overall, pre-onboarding is an important part of the employee onboarding process that should not be overlooked. By setting clear expectations and engaging with new hires early on, employers can set the stage for a successful long-term employee relationship.

The onboarding process: The essentials

The onboarding process is a crucial step in ensuring that new hires feel welcomed, prepared, and supported in their new roles. It also helps their peers and teammates involve them in the company’s culture.

A successful onboarding process can set the tone for the employee’s entire tenure at the company and can directly impact their engagement, productivity, and long-term employee retention.

1. Create a new employee checklist

Creating a new employee checklist can help ensure that all necessary steps are taken during the pre-onboarding and onboarding processes. The checklist should include items such as completing paperwork, setting up equipment and systems, introducing new employees to their team members, and scheduling orientation and training sessions.

By having a clear and comprehensive checklist, both the new hire and the onboarding team can stay organized and on track throughout the process. This will ensure fewer mistakes made and can help the new employee truly engage with the company.

2. Schedule orientation

Orientation is an essential component of the onboarding process. It is an opportunity for the new hire to learn about the company’s culture, values, and mission.

The orientation should cover topics such as the company’s history, organizational structure, policies, and employee benefits. It is also an excellent time to introduce the new hire to their team members and provide a tour of the office or facility.

While much of the orientation can be completed outside the office, there is no match for the human touch. Schedule a time for the new employee to meet with the team and ask questions concerning what their day-to-day will look like.

3. Plan for training and development

Training and development are critical components of the onboarding process. Providing new hires with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job duties effectively is essential.

The training should be tailored to the employee’s role and experience level. Additionally, offering ongoing development opportunities can help employees grow and advance within the company.

By creating a new employee checklist, providing employees with a comprehensive orientation, and offering tailored training and development opportunities, companies can set their new hires up for success and develop a long-term employee.

Creating a supportive work environment

One of the most important factors in developing long-term employees is the creation of a supportive work environment. This means cultivating a culture of open communication, promoting work-life balance, and providing opportunities for growth.

Older employees can be part of an invaluable support system, especially if they have been with the company longer than their peers.

1. Encourage open communication

One of the most important aspects of creating a supportive work environment is encouraging open communication. This means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with their peers and managers.

To encourage open communication with other employees, employers can:

  • Host regular team meetings to discuss progress and goals
  • Provide feedback and recognition to employees on a regular basis
  • Encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas through suggestion boxes or surveys
  • Create an open-door policy where employees can speak with their managers about any concerns they may have

2. Promote work-life balance

One of the most important reasons employees stay with a company long-term is that the company values work life balance. This means ensuring that employees have the time and resources they need to take care of their personal lives outside of work. To promote work-life balance, employers can:

  • Offer flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible schedules
  • Provide paid time off for personal reasons, such as vacation or sick days
  • Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day to recharge and avoid burnout
  • Create a culture where employees are encouraged to prioritize their mental and physical health

An employer may offer paid benefit time later as a reward to one employee for working extraordinarily long hours, but that will not convince employees to stay long term. Employers are wise to pay attention to work-life balance.

3. Provide opportunities for growth

Finally, providing opportunities for growth is essential in creating a supportive and stable work environment too. This means offering employees the chance to develop new skills, take on new challenges, and advance their careers within the company. To develop a stable and secure work environment, and provide opportunities for growth, employers should:

  • Offer training and development programs to help employees develop new skills
  • Provide opportunities for employees to take on new responsibilities and roles within the company
  • Create a clear career path for employees to follow and provide guidance on how to achieve their goals
  • Offer mentorship programs to help employees learn from more experienced colleagues

In order to have long-term employees, companies need to give reasons for employees to stay. For this reason, creating a supportive work environment is crucial in developing long-term employees.

Proven retention strategies for long-term employees

Employee engagement and retention should be ongoing goals for every company. Here are some strategies that companies can use to work toward those goals

1. Establish employee recognition systems and programs

Employees who feel valued and appreciated in new jobs are more likely to stay with a company. Companies should recognize employees and workers’ hard work and dedication through various means and employee benefits too, such as:

  • Employee of the month awards
  • Personalized thank you notes from managers
  • Encourage team members to thank and recognize each other
  • Public recognition during team meetings
  • Bonuses and other incentives

2. Offer competitive compensation

Compensation will always be a factor in employee retention. Employees tend to be interested in the possibility of a higher salary. In addition to other retention strategies, companies should ensure that their own salary and compensation packages are competitive with industry standards. This should include:

  • Offering competitive salaries and benefits
  • Providing opportunities for bonuses or profit sharing
  • Offering stock options or equity in the company

3. Provide continuous feedback

Employees want to know how they are doing and how they can improve. Companies should provide continuous feedback to their employees to help them grow and develop. This can include:

  • Regular one-on-one meetings with managers
  • Performance reviews
  • Peer feedback
  • Employee surveys

4. Develop your internal talent pool

Companies can retain employees by providing opportunities for growth and development. This can include:

  • Offering training and development programs
  • Providing opportunities for employees to take on new responsibilities
  • Encouraging employees to pursue professional development opportunities
  • Creating a clear career path for employees

5. Use testing to direct training

Skills tests can be a valuable tool for assessing the proficiency and competence of current employees. They can help identify areas of strength and areas for improvement, guide training and development efforts, and support performance evaluations. Here are some steps to effectively use skills tests for current employees:

  • Skills assessments
  • Personality tests
  • Aptitude tests

By identifying areas where employees might benefit from additional training, companies can provide targeted training programs. Employee development and training are very effective retention tools, as employees will only engage when they believe a company is committed to the

Blended assessments, like those offered by TrueAbility are very effective in helping companies hire better employees quickly. Testing is essential in employee assessment, particularly performance-based assessments, to help your managers determine how to direct training.

 Contact TrueAbility today to find out how skills tests effectively can support the professional growth and development of your current employees, align their skills with organizational needs, and enhance their overall performance.

6. Use exit interviews to learn from your mistakes

Not every employee is interested in staying with your company long term, and not all of your employees stay or are suited for long-term employment. But you can learn from employees who don’t stay.

When an employee voluntarily leaves your company, an exit interview should be an automatic part of their termination processing.

Take the time to talk to employees who quit. Find out why they’re leaving, what they enjoyed, and what changes they would have liked to have seen. By being open to an honest assessment, however unflattering, companies can gain valuable insight into how to improve.

Frequently asked questions

Why should companies use pre-onboarding for new employees?

Pre-onboarding helps keep the newly hired employee interested in and excited about working for the company. It also allows the company to prepare for the new hire in order to hit the ground running on the first day of employment.

Some new employees are able begin employment right away, but most workers need to give at least two weeks notice to their current employer. During this time, their new company should do as much as possible to get everything ready for the new employee.

What is the difference between pre-onboarding and onboarding?

Pre-onboarding starts after a job offer is accepted. Onboarding starts on the new hire’s official first day. By using pre-onboarding, companies help employees feel personally invested in joining the company and are more likely to become engaged employees.

How do you ensure pre-onboarding and onboarding are successful?

The best way to ensure pre-onboarding and onboarding are successful is to follow up with the new employee. The first six months of employment are critical, so ideally, new hires should be followed up with regularly during that time.

Every employer wants to keep their good employees for an extended period of time. That may not always work out, but companies who spend time with employees at the start of employment have a leg up in developing long-term employees. By developing long-term employees, companies save time they might have spent screening applicants and cut down replacement costs.

Jodi Mai began her career as a recruiter after college. She moved into an HR Generalist role and later, into HR management, working on such topics as employee relations, benefit administration, and payroll. Over the last 15 years, she has worked in the talent acquisition and management industry, and since 2018, Jodi has expanded to HR consulting and writing on HR and recruitment topics.

Learn more about TrueAbility—an industry leader in providing assessment testing and has experience offering testing, certification, and training to companies, such as Google, SUSE, VMWare etc.

About TrueAbililty 

TrueAbility is a trusted global performance-based technical assessment provider offering a community ecosystem allowing technical professionals and employers to collaborate and measure skill sets through AbilityScreen®. AbilityScreen is the only fully-managed performance-based technical assessment platform operating in a live, cloud environment that automates recruiting and hiring processes to definitively assess and qualify a technical professional’s technology experience.

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