People Management
5 min.

HR Onboarding: 4 Key Communications Before the First Day

Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair
Last updated on 22 Dec. 2023
Published on 6 Sep. 2022
man looking at a phone, other man in phone waving back

Good HR onboarding has the power to engage employees even before their first day on the job.

Table of contents

Onboarding begins well before someone starts their job. The process should be proactive and start as soon as the candidate is told they’ve been hired. In other words, as a manager, you need to interact with your new employee on a regular basis, right up until you welcome them to your team on their first day.

Did you know that many candidates disengage from a position before they even begin, due to a lack of communication between the moment they are hired and the moment they begin work?

In fact, in one poll, 63% of HR managers reported facing this situation.

Successful onboarding significantly reduces staff turnover and has been found to improve retention rates by 82%. Other benefits of well-managed onboarding include faster and higher employee engagement, greater motivation, and improved performance (70% better according to Glassdoor).

But what exactly is HR onboarding?

Onboarding refers to a new employee’s welcome and integration into a work team.
It covers all the steps from first day up through full team integration.

What are the consequences of neglecting onboarding?

According to a survey by the website Cadremploi, one third of resignations can be traced back to poor employee integration. A full 65% of these resignations have been found to take place within the first 6 months of employment.

As you might have guessed, the ultimate consequence of poor onboarding is employee disengagement and resignation.

For all these reasons, it would be a shame to take the onboarding process lightly. A failure to communicate with your new employee before they arrive can signal that your organization is disorganized or even doesn’t really care about them.

Here are just a few of the negative impacts of careless onboarding:

Staying in touch with the candidate from their hiring to their first day of work

Onboarding is generally understood as everything that takes place upon a candidate’s arrival at their new job, i.e., welcoming, support, first team lunch, training, etc.

But there’s more to it than that.

Did you know that the communications between the employee’s hiring and their official arrival on the job have a name? They’re referred to as pre-onboarding.

Pre-onboarding allows managers to forge a relationship with their new recruit from the get-go. It also helps give the candidate importance, tells them that their arrival is highly anticipated, and that they have a place on the team.

Another crucial goal of pre-onboarding is to keep up the future team member’s interest and to show them that your company is well-organized.

Pre-onboarding in 4 communications

It is so important to focus on your new employees’ onboarding and integration. That being said, I don’t recommend bombarding them with unnecessary or burdensome communications before they have even begun working for you.

To this end, I would like to suggest an example of successful pre-boarding in 4 concise, targeted communications:

1.     Official hiring and employment contract

2.     Welcome message from the middle manager

3.     Reminder of the organization’s mission and values

4.     Presentation of how the employee’s first day will unfold

1. Making the hire official

First, email the candidate to remind them that they’ve been hired and go over their terms of employment. Make sure to attach their employment contract if applicable, clarify the terms of employment, the agreed salary, etc. In addition to officializing they have been hired, the employment contract helps reassure the new employee, especially if the start date is still a few weeks away.

You can also take the opportunity to collect some useful information for organizing and maintaining the employee’s record.

💡 Ultimate goal: To reassure the employee and reiterate your enthusiasm about their arrival, which is more than appropriate in a labor shortage context.

2. Welcome them to the team, and introduce the team

Next, send your future employee a welcome message so they know how important their role is on the team. You can even go all-out and include a note from other team members! Finally, invite the new employee to follow your organization on social media. This way, they will already be able to see themselves in the culture and will be aware of the organization’s goings-on. Also add the new employee to your company’s socials—wherever the team interact on a daily basis.

💡 Ultimate goal: To make the new employee look forward to meeting their peers and being part of your team, mission and organization.

3. Introduce the company’s values and mission

A third very important communication is to go over your company’s mission and values. Draw up an email introducing your company, mission, and core values. Include the employee handbook and invite your new hire to read it before they arrive.

Don’t underestimate the value of an employee handbook: your new employee will feel much more comfortable if they’ve been informed in advance of the dress code, for example, or the ground rules at your organization. Give any details that will help the new employee become familiar with their future environment. This will help put them at ease and quickly get the hang of things.

💡 Ultimate goal: Promote quick and easy integration, and a sense of belonging. It’s also worth pointing out that employee loyalty begins with a sense of buying into a mission and having common values.

4. Explain how the first day will unfold

Finally, send an email describing how the first day or even the first week will unfold. Organize a team meal, always with the goal of creating relationships and synergy in the work team. It’s well known that more cohesive teams are more successful and resilient.

In one study, 43% of surveyed employees reported feeling that their first day at a new job was hectic and confusing.

So, take the time to thoroughly prepare for the first day of work. You can even create a detailed schedule and send it to all your team members. This way everyone knows exactly what the integration day or week will entail.

💡 Ultimate goal: Show the newcomer that the organization has anticipated their arrival and that they are expected. Pssst. Don’t forget to include a team meal to make the first day special and allow everyone to get to know one another in a more relaxed setting!

Wrapping up

The onboarding and pre-onboarding steps have the potential to completely transform your new employees’ experience. Turnover is extremely costly and time-consuming, so don’t neglect these steps—be sure to prepare and do things right! It will save you time and money, and ensure better performance.

A few helpful tools for your new employees’ onboarding and integration

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