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All ONBoard – First Stop, Pre-boarding

By SRAI News posted 03-09-2023 09:35 AM


All ONBoard – First Stop, Pre-boarding

One of the first impressions you gain about an employer is how they handle the pre-/onboarding process. A smooth process helps set up the new employee for an excellent start on day one through the first 90 days on the new job. When a person is successfully onboarded, it shows the employer is invested in the new hire, committed to the success and retention of the new hire, and the potential for increased productivity rises.

Why is onboarding important? What impressions do you gain about an employer’s preparedness/readiness for your arrival during onboarding? Are they invested in your success and happiness? A positive onboarding experience provides reassurance to the employee that the employer is prepared for their arrival, is setting them up for success, and employee engagement is at the forefront of integrating the employee into the culture of the new job. 

Consider the scenarios below and think about how you could set up a new employee for success.

Scenario 1 Scenario 2
No greeting, no team introduction Greeting and team introduction
No office space, no laptop, no office supplies Fully equipped office if hybrid on campus, or equipment delivered to home a week before start if working from home
No notification about training that would take place Provide an onboarding checklist detailing training for the next 30-60-90-days

Questions to ask yourself about the scenarios and the impact of the experience: How was your first day? Do you still want to work for the department or company? Are there any concerns? How do you feel as a new employee? After reviewing the scenarios above, what impression did you give the new employee about the organization? Scenario 1 can leave a new employee feeling negative, discouraged, frustrated, or worthless, while Scenario 2 can leave them feeling positive, motivated, productive, and valued/appreciated. 

The period of time between formally accepting the job and day one is the pre-boarding period. During this time, all HR paperwork that is capable of being completed prior to starting the job should be done. Ideally, office supplies, including computers and accessories, should be acquired. Keeping a few of these items in stock is worthwhile to prevent not having them available on hand when the new hire begins. Requesting access for the new hire to the software or programs needed for the employee should happen before the employee starts to ensure they may begin training on day one. 

You may need to develop an onboarding document for each role in your department. If you discover that additional personnel is required to manage the onboarding process, hire additional staff as needed. 

Below is an outline of things to consider while pre-boarding. The document will require updating accordingly as the position may change as well as there may be overall process changes over time within the department. 

Pre-board Checklist

  •  Outline what’s needed to complete the pre-boarding process.
    • This may vary depending on the role and therefore may require different iterations.
  •  Assess resources.
    • Are current resources available to manage the pre-boarding activity?
    • Who will be responsible for the ongoing activities with the new hire?
  • Check-in with necessary departments to ensure everyone is in agreement on items that are needed for the new hire.
    • IT Department: Laptop, monitor, mouse, software access, etc. Evaluate if there is a need to have specific items on hand to prevent necessary items from being on backorder and/or ordering every time a new employee is hired.
    • HR Department: New hire forms complete.
    • Hiring Department: Confirm start date/hours, access to programs/systems, personnel for training, office supplies and equipment. Evaluate if there is a need to have specific items on hand to prevent necessary items from being on backorder and/or ordering every time a new employee is hired.
  • Prepare day 1 schedule.
    • Review for efficiency and completeness. 

Now that you have prepared for your new journey, it’s time to board the train. Next month we will discuss steps to onboarding, and also offboarding when the journey has come to an end.

Check out next month’s issue where we’ll review the next stops: Onboarding and Offboarding.

Authored by Mimi Davis, Grants and Contracts Senior Manager
Duke University


1 comment



03-28-2023 10:46 AM

This is terrific! Intentional preparation that is thoughtful and transparent. Revisiting resources so that they stay updated. Connecting with various departments to clear barriers for incoming talent. A great place to start, and important process to have in place, especially as roles are increasingly virtual/hybrid. Thank you for kicking off this series on Onboarding and Offboarding.