Now that the term “onboarding” has become part of the business vernacular, I’ve been increasingly turning my attention to educating clients about the power of effective “pre-boarding”. This is the timeframe BEFORE the candidate joins a new employer.

There are plenty of horror stories about what happens on a poorly executed “day one” for a new hire. You know the deal…
– the boss is too busy to spend any time or is even away on vacation
– the office isn’t ready
– the business cards aren’t printed
– the receptionist keeps turning away calls for this person she’s never heard of
– the computer isn’t connected
– the message waiting light is blinking madly but the new hire has no idea how to use the phone system
…and on it goes. Disengagement begins on day #1.

Now, let’s step back further in the process to look at how engagement has been fostered since the employment offer was presented.

Consider this scenario…

After a long, involved search process involving many interviews, Carl was sent a letter of offer via courier. On the day he received his offer– a Friday– Carl faxed in his acceptance and then didn’t hear anything further except for a call from the payroll department telling him to bring in his birth certificate on his first day, two weeks from then.

Meanwhile, when Carl met with his current boss to deliver his resignation, she was gracious and congratulated him about his new job. She said she wished she’d known he was interested in moving from Marketing to Sales as his company would have loved to have supported him with such a cross-functional opportunity. She spoke highly of his contribution and said he would be very difficult to replace.

When he told his colleagues he was leaving, they were shocked and clearly saddened. They expressed how much they’d miss his jokes and family stories…not to mention his reliable commitment to the team. Carl was treated to many one-on-one lunches over the next two weeks where there were plenty of laughs shared about memories over the past 6 years.

They are poured on the love!! And what’s more…since Carl really is a great find… the comments made were all very sincere.

Meanwhile, Carl’s new boss took a vacation during this two week timeframe. He didn’t reach out to Carl at all!

Carl’s wife was annoyed about the challenges presented by his new job. The commute would be longer and he wouldn’t be able to share the daycare pick-up responsibilities any longer.

Is it any wonder that Carl would begin to have second thoughts before he even begins his new job? Imagine if he experiences a bad first day!

This is a new hire retention challenge in the making. It happens time and again.

In a hot market for talent…strong employees who plan to leave their organizations are heavily counter-offered, “shown the love” and are increasingly opting to reverse their decision. Many are returning to the employers that they know and where they have emotional attachments. “Pre-boarding” or beginning a relationship with the new hires before they even join a new company is absolutely critical.

For ideas to create Connectivity in Pre-Boarding, see Part 2 in this Blog.

I invite your comments on pre-boarding experiences.