Employee preboarding to retention, your end-to-end employee development resource from the leaders in simulation training.

Hello, Troubleshooters! Thanks for tuning in to Troubleshooting Thursdays. If you missed our posts over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about the labor shortage and how it is affecting manufacturers. We talked about how Millennials now represent over half of the workforce in the US, what’s important to Millennials, and how to attract and retain your employees in order to maintain the workforce they need to be able to keep customers happy and expand production. Today we’re continuing with the theme of how to compete for talent in a labor shortage. One emerging way to get an advantage over your competition is through preboarding.

Preboarding versus onboarding

The word preboarding might call to mind waiting at the airline gate on your last vacation, while a horde of VIPs, military, and parents with small children were settling in comfortably ahead of you. But that’s not the kind of preboarding we’re interested in today! We’re talking about employee preboarding.

No doubt you’re very familiar with onboarding, a key phase of an employee’s life at a new job when they are welcomed and familiarized with company culture and job requirements. Onboarding is an essential part of a business’s staff retention strategy, especially for Millennials and younger generations, who tend not to expect not to stay at a job for more than two years. Many will leave long before that if they are not sufficiently engaged.

Preboarding, on the other hand, is a fairly new concept in HR, but it’s quickly becoming more common as competition among businesses for talent heats up. In this economic climate, even after being hired and signing a contract, prospective employees can be enticed away by a more lucrative offer before they ever show up for the first day on the job. That reality has made preboarding a necessity that companies can’t afford to ignore, especially in the manufacturing industry, where the skilled labor shortage is causing considerable pain.

A Glassdoor survey found that the average length of the job interview process in the United States is 24 days. That includes significant investment of HR personnel time, and it’s incredibly inefficient to lose a new hire to the competition after investing that kind of time and effort. Unfortunately, employees can be easily poached with the lure of more money, unless they have a reasonably strong desire to stay with you. So, a lack of engagement can hurt you even before the employee shows up for Day 1.

And that’s where preboarding fits in.

Preboarding initiates a relationship

Preboarding is generally considered to be the period after an employee is hired right up until the first day on the job. It might last a couple of weeks, a month, or even longer. However, we would argue that it starts with the candidate’s first contact with your company during the application process. (We’ll talk a bit more about that in next week’s post.)

The goal of preboarding is to assure the new or potential employee that they are making the right decision by going with your company, and to keep them engaged so that they don’t drop out after signing the contract and go with another offer.

Preboarding is a chance to develop a relationship with the employee and to send signals about your company, it’s culture, and the team they’ll be working with. People tend to worry about the unknown, and many new employees experience considerable anxiety while waiting to starting a new job. They may worry about whether they will fit in, whether they will enjoy the work, or whether they’ll like their boss and the others they’ll be working with. Careful attention to preboarding during this phase can help alleviate their fears, further a positive impression of your organization, and begin a relationship with the employee—one that will help your offer withstand the competition’s.

The labor shortage has made competition for talent fierce. Manufacturers need to take steps proactively to create positive bonds with valuable new hires to avoid losing them before they even begin.

That’s all for today, Troubleshooters! Join us next week as we take a deeper dive into preboarding, the kinds of activities you can do during this phase, and how it can benefit your organization.

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