9 Ways to Create an Engaging Employee Pre-boarding Process

6 minutes • Mar 22, 2021Onboarding
Illustration of two people shaking hands at the end of an interview.

It’s a happy moment for you and your team. The job candidate you’ve been interviewing has just signed the offer to work at your company! You feel relieved; you’ve been trying to fill that position for a while and no longer have to worry about your team being stretched so thin! 

Now, it’s time for you to shift your focus to pre-boarding your new hire. Pre-boarding is part of employee onboarding and is vital for creating employee engagement from the get-go. Pre-boarding is the time, care, and process you put in place to make sure all new hires feel welcome before they set foot in your office (or your company’s Zoom account) for their first day. After all, starting a new job is stressful. 

Why Employee Pre-boarding is Crucial   

A lot can happen from the time your new hire signs their offer letter to their scheduled first day. Consider these 2019 findings from staffing firm Robert Half: 

  • 28% of respondents have backed out of a job after accepting an offer. Those who backed out did so because: 

    • They got a better offer from another company (44%)

    • They got a convincing counteroffer from their current employer (27%) 

    • They heard negative things about the company after accepting the offer (19%)

By pre-boarding your new hires, you can minimize the chance of early employee turnover. With a helpful, delightful employee pre-boarding process that goes beyond collecting I-9s and W4s, you can: 

  • Create engaged employees who are motivated to show up and bring their best to work right out of the gate 

  • Help new hires feel comfortable with their new role and soon-to-be colleagues 

  • Address any concerns a new hire might have about your company 

  • Show new hires that you’re committed to giving them a positive experience

Implementing an employee pre-boarding process as part of your onboarding routine doesn’t have to be an overly complicated thing. After all, your new hires aren’t expecting perfection—they just want to feel like you care! You can help them feel that way on any budget with any combination of the following ideas.

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1. Send Them a Handwritten Note in the Mail 

Handwritten notes (not junk mail—we’re talking about the kind where you can tell someone took the time to send you something special) are a refreshing break from the digital messages we’re inundated with each day. They offer a personal touch and can create the groundwork for lasting relationships. What’s more, people love getting mail! A 2015 Gallup poll found that 41% of Americans look forward to checking their mailbox daily.

Have someone from your company write the new hire a welcome note. While having an executive write it would be ideal, it might be hard to scale. Letting any other team members do the writing ensures that every new hire receives a handwritten note from someone. You can even write the letter if you want! Either way, the new hire will be excited to receive a handwritten letter from a colleague who knows they’ll soon be joining. They will feel welcomed and wanted. 

2. Send Them Swag

While being the newbie on the (corporate) block can be awkward, it feels great to get new company swag to wear or use. 

By receiving company swag, the new hire will feel like they’ve been accepted by the group. It’ll help ease their worries about whether or not they belong. That swag will also help you bolster your brand as an employer. 

If it’s within your budget, try to get a good mix of things: 

  • Something soft (shirt!) 

  • Something needed (notebook!) 

  • Something wanted (coffee cup!) 

  • Something to read (a book! We love


Plus, if you make a bulk order, you can have some leftover swag to send to your customers as a show of your company’s appreciation for their business. 

Research different vendors to see which one best fits your needs. Our favorite at Pingboard is Custom Ink, a great vendor with excellent customer service. 

3. Send Them a Link to Your Org Chart 

A major part of new job jitters is anxiety about who you’ll be working with daily. To help new hires feel comfortable with their future colleagues, send them a link to your org chart. 

New hires can navigate and explore the org chart to learn about your organization’s reporting structure instead of figuring it out as they go. If your company incorporates fun elements to its org chart (like having employees list their favorite bands and restaurants) new hires can get a glimpse of that too—and find it easier to strike up conversations! 

4. Time Block Their First Week 

The first week at a new job is overwhelming. New hires don’t know your workplace’s ins and outs, like when people typically take lunch breaks. They have a lot going on, and to help them, you can time block their first week and pre-schedule meetings

To get started, ask the new hire’s manager to map out their first week in as much detail as possible. Then, take it a step further by adding notes to the meeting invites that tell the new hire: 

  • Who the person they’re meeting with is 

  • Why that person is a good person to know 

  • Some good questions they could ask to guide the conversation 

Of course, be sure to add the person they’re supposed to be meeting with on the calendar invite, and make sure that they accept the meeting. You don’t want the new hire to be left all alone on a Zoom call! 

5. Have Fun With Scheduling Breaks

New hires are eager to prove themselves, meaning they’re not as likely to speak up that their back is killing them from consecutive Zoom calls or that they need to grab a snack from the kitchen.  

Make it easy for new hires to permit themselves to take breaks by scheduling those breaks for them. Send them calendar invites for “free time” or “flex time” and make it clear that they can use that time however they want, whether going for a walk, doing yoga, eating lunch, or tending to a pet. 

Additionally, taking designated breaks at work has many benefits, including boosting productivity and creativity. Your new hires will return to their desks energized and refreshed! 

6. Offer Them a Home Office Stipend

You’re already supplying your newest employee with a computer, a charger, and perhaps an extra monitor. But there’s a lot more involved to keep mental (and spinal) health intact while working remotely!

Your new hire might want a more ergonomic chair, noise-canceling headphones, a standing desk, a light, or even a plant or two. You can send your new hire links to a few websites with home office items (we love Fully here at Pingboard), tell them what their budget is, and let them pick out the things they want the company to order for them. 

7. Ship Their Equipment Before They Start

When it comes to the basics and the home office “extras,” you really do need to coordinate with the team that handles equipment shipping and logistics to put a process in place to make sure that the new hire’s equipment arrives before they start. 

Instead of scrambling to get their personal laptop to work with your company’s apps or stressing out about not having a laptop charger, your new hire will be 100% focused on learning about their responsibilities and getting to know their new coworkers. 

8. Assign Them a Welcome Buddy 

To further make your new hire feel welcome to the team, you can assign them a welcome buddy. This should be a person who is not on their team and who is not their manager. Think of it as their first friend outside of their department, at the company. This person will regularly check in with the new hire via Slack, email, or Zoom to chat about how things are going and get to know the new hire outside of work. 

Once you figure out who to designate as the welcome buddy, schedule some time to set expectations with them before reaching out to the new hire. Go over how they should contact the new hire, how they should spend time with the new hire on their first day, and how often they should check-in. 

9. Tell Your Existing Employees That a New Hire is Coming 

Don’t assume that everyone at your company knows that a new hire is coming. Sometimes employees haven’t been clued in (for instance, if they were on vacation when the new hire accepted the offer). 

To avoid awkward “who’s that?” questions, write up an email or Slack message to the entire company before the new hire’s first day that shares: 

  • Their name 

  • Their photo 

  • What their new role is 

  • Why you’re excited that they’ve joined the team

To add some fun to the mix, you can have new hires send you two truths and a lie about themselves, add that to the message, and then have existing employees guess the lie. Then, the new hire can reveal the lie on their first day. Voila! Instant conversation starter. 

Make Your Employee Pre-boarding Process Repeatable 

You want every new hire to have a fantastic pre-boarding experience that’ll make them pumped for their first day. To make sure all new hires get treated equally, document your company’s pre-boarding best practices and to-dos with a checklist (check out our template!)

On that checklist, assign stakeholders to key tasks. For instance, you can designate that Maria in marketing is responsible for writing the handwritten notes and Sarah in IT is responsible for shipping new hires’ office equipment. Every time you have a new hire, create a copy of that original checklist so you can make sure every step is accomplished—and every new person has a delightful pre-boarding experience.

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