What makes a great pre-onboarding experience

With the world of work changing (possibly for good), people moving jobs and re-skilling, never before has people’s pre-onboarding experience (OnEx) been so important.


It’s the first window they get to the company they’re joining, and you know what ‘they’ say - you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

At StoryShare we think it’s so important to provide people with access to the knowledge, information and learning they need throughout the employee lifecycle journey, which should begin long before they join.

So to find out more about what makes a great pre-onboarding experience, we thought we’d ask our friends at AND Digital (who have won multiple awards for their OnEx), their thoughts on the topic:


1. What should the outcome of a great pre-onboarding experience be?

“It should make our people feel welcome and part of the company even before they walk through the door (or the 'virtual door' at the moment!)”.

It validates people’s decision to accept the job, helping them feel valued and gets them excited to hit the ground running.

But it’s not just about the experience of the onboardees, think of the onboarders:

“Alleviating the stress and 'faff' of administrative tasks for managers is so important. This gives both sides so much more quality and value-add time together on day one and beyond”


2. What do you do at AND Digital that works really well?

“We start our pre-onboarding 4 weeks early with a welcome email. From then, every week our new starts receive countdown communications from us. We use an internally built pre-onboarding tool which involves regular communications, buddy intros, profile creations, pre-joining tasks, profiles of other joiners, bootcamp schedules and FAQs; aiming to establish early connections and better prepare our new ANDis.”

Then there’s a move from just digital to physical,

“We then have the concept of a Bootcamp (3 weeks), putting into practice the 70:20:10 learning theory, including a practical product build.”


3. If you could wave your magic wand, what's the one thing you would do to wow your people in their pre-onboarding experience that you can't do now?

The use of technology, and not just due to current global events.

“We would love to upgrade our pre-onboarding tool which we are currently working on. We'd like it to have more automated functions to make the pre-onboarding experience slicker and even better.”

Content (especially learning) is still King and Queen.

“Giving our new starters access to more learning content earlier in the process, so they can watch short hello clips, pre-videos from their manager/team for example.”

There needs to be a focus on measuring the outcomes of the end-to-end experience to establish where improvements need to be made.

“We'd also like to measure impact better. At the moment we measure satisfaction of 3 week bootcamp experience, but do not record their engagement scores within their first 3 months.”


4. What role do you think technology should play in the process?

The role of technology is especially important for companies with big growth plans, but it also allows for scaling across different geographies / function / roles, streamlining the process and providing a tool to measure impact.

“Technology is very important. It should be used for pre-onboarding comms (e.g. an email, or part of a work-flow tool) and connecting new starts with existing employees (e.g. line managers/buddies etc).”

Don’t forget the small and personal touches, like letters and gifts delivered to new-starters homes.


5. How do you track what people have done prior to joining?

“We can track tasks via the pre-onboarding tool, e.g. if they have filled out their profile information or completed a form etc.”

Pre-joining learning is mainly for the new starters benefit, so this might not need to be tracked. However to gain better insight into what is popular or if there was some compliance training that could be done prior to joining, then this would be great to track.



Top three key takeaways:

  • Think about both sides of the coin, whilst the onboardee gets very visible benefits, automating a lot of the process frees up time for value-add activities and makes the onboarder’s life much simpler.
  • Start early and use a blended approach combining easy-to-use technology, physical collateral and a well thought-out practical experience.
  • Learning content that can be delivered and tracked to pre-joiners will indicate early on what capabilities people have, what they are interested in and what level of engagement they have with your content. 

If you would like to discuss this topic further or book a free consultation, click the button below to get in touch. 

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A huge thank you to Hannah Abulhawa and Josie Bailey at AND Digital. If you would like to join the AND Digital team and experience their amazing OnEx, please visit https://and.digital/join/open-roles/