HomeFuture of WorkDigital HRDigital innovations in pre-boarding to boost new-hire retention

Digital innovations in pre-boarding to boost new-hire retention

  • 7 Min Read

Craig Hamill offers four innovative digital pre-boarding techniques to boost new hire retention by over 80%, and four steps to tie pre-boarding to onboarding

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Craig Hamill Headshot for article on pre-boarding

Starting a new job is stressful. First, there’s the pressure of meeting new people and remembering names and faces. On top of that, there’s the challenge of getting used to a new environment and understanding the company culture. And let’s not forget the fear of making mistakes, not living up to expectations, and the dreaded feeling of ‘imposter syndrome’. All of this can weigh very heavily on the mind of new starters, impacting their happiness, engagement, and performance. Fortunately, there are practical solutions that HR leaders can put in place to alleviate these struggles and make the first few days of a new starter’s employment significantly more enjoyable. One of the most effective of these strategies is a strong pre-boarding process.

Innovative digital techniques to revolutionize your pre-boarding process

Pre-boarding is the phase of employee onboarding that occurs after a new hire has accepted a job offer but before their first day. You could argue that this is one of the most critical periods where you establish the foundation for a successful working relationship. However, many companies neglect to put any effort into their pre-boarding processes.

Typically, the standard pre-boarding process involves an offer letter being sent, contracts being signed, and maybe a few background checks here and there to make sure everything is compliant and above board. Many organizations do extraordinarily little to make sure the new hire feels comfortable or set the foundation for a positive employee experience.

Yet, we can’t be too hard on all the organizations with lackluster pre-boarding processes. The logistics of coordinating multiple activities, fostering early engagement, and introducing the company culture can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with multiple hires or a high turnover.

The right digital techniques can transform your pre-boarding from a standard, rigid procedure into an extraordinary journey. By adopting these strategies, you can boost new hire retention by more than 80% and reduce the number of non-starters.

Interactive games

A great example of effective digital pre-boarding is interactive games, such as virtual scavenger hunts. These not only make the process enjoyable but also provide educational insights. By creatively incorporating information about your company, team, and values into these games, new hires can start familiarizing themselves with their new environment in a fun, engaging way. Whether they are discovering the founder’s name, the company’s first product, or identifying key people in their department, these games make the learning experience interactive and memorable.

Immersive tech

Another innovative digital technique is offering virtual office tours using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). This immersive experience gives new hires a virtual walkthrough of their future workspace, whether they will be onsite or working remotely. You could show them where the break room is, the view from their workspace, or the local coffee shop where team members often meet. This helps them visualize their daily work lives, fosters a sense of connection to the workplace, and exhibits your company’s innovative culture.


Deepening the pre-boarding process, personalized interactions can dramatically enhance the new hire’s experience. This could be as simple as a welcome message from the CEO, customized learning pathways guided by AI, or a pre-loaded calendar with key dates and upcoming team events. Integrating your company culture into these personalized interactions also plays a key role in fostering early engagement. Perhaps it’s a video message from team members, a digital copy of your company’s handbook presented in a storytelling format, or a virtual lunch with their new team. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

Social platforms

The integration of social platforms can also add a unique dimension to your pre-boarding process. Platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, allow new hires to engage in group discussions, share ideas, and learn from each other even before their official start date. This fosters a collaborative environment and helps build relationships early on. Additionally, creating dedicated channels or groups for new hires on these platforms can foster a sense of community while facilitating the building of new working relationships.

Seamlessly linking pre-boarding and onboarding

In the exciting journey that takes your new hires from accepting an offer to becoming effective members of your team, pre-boarding and onboarding aren’t just stages – they’re integral parts of a continuous, interconnected process. As such, it’s essential to ensure a seamless transition from pre-boarding to onboarding.

After all, it’s all about keeping the early engagement ignited during pre-boarding alive and kicking. The onboarding phase should feel like a natural progression, an exciting continuation of the momentum already built, not a standalone phase that might cause new hires to stumble. One effective way to sustain this momentum and link pre-boarding to onboarding is by addressing the concerns that are common to most new hires. Let’s look at how you can do this.

Addressing common new-hire concerns

  • Provide detailed tech setup guides: Your new hires need to get up and running with their work technology as soon as possible. You can make this process painless for them by providing step-by-step setup guides for tools they’ll be using (and other specific software needed for their role).
  • Offer virtual IT support: Even with the best guides, questions or technical glitches might pop up. That’s where your virtual IT support comes in. Live, personalized help, especially during their initial days, will reassure new hires that they have the support they need to navigate their new work environment effectively.
  • Have a pre-start date check-in: Reach out a day or two before the big day. This not only addresses last-minute questions or concerns but also reinforces the fact that your organization is enthusiastically awaiting their arrival. If applicable, and where you have assigned them a line manager in advance of a start date, there should be some form of check-in between the line manager and the new hire. This could be via email, social community, or phone. This is important to ensure that the new hire is clear about the first 30 days, giving them time to mentally prepare, understand expectations, and if the role is hybrid, plan logistics.
  • Implement a mentor or buddy system: Assigning a mentor or buddy who can provide guidance, answer queries, and check in regularly can significantly ease the new hire’s transition. The relationships formed during pre-boarding will carry into onboarding, providing continuity and a sense of familiarity.

The future of pre-boarding

The landscape of pre-boarding is rapidly changing, largely thanks to technological advancements. Innovative digital solutions are streamlining administrative tasks, enhancing communication, and paving the way for more engaging, personalized, and effective pre-boarding experiences. In this digital age, pre-boarding is no longer a challenge to overcome, but rather an exciting opportunity to set the tone for a new hire’s journey.

In today’s talent-driven landscape, simply attracting the best isn’t enough; we must ensure they feel valued and integrated from day one and, that this memorable experience continues throughout the employment term.

This is vital to ensure the retention of top talent in the current competitive landscape. Digital technology empowers us to redefine the pre-boarding experience, enabling a truly personalized, engaging start. Virtual activities, AR office tours, and seamless onboarding transitions are transforming new hire journeys. Leveraging these innovations, you can ensure each recruit feels welcomed, supported, and part of the team right from the get-go.

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