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Lisa BischoffJan 26, 20235 min read

Preboarding: Delighting New Hires Before Day One

Congratulations! After several rounds of interviews, multiple internal meetings, juggling calendar availability, and negotiating a compensation package, you’ve extended an offer letter to an incredible candidate and they accepted! *happy dance* 


While many companies will quickly begin preparing for a new hire’s first day, there often can be a ‘dark period’ during pre-boarding - the time between accepting an offer and starting a job. Going silent during this critical time period can be detrimental - consider Hireology’s finding that most job seekers are applying and interviewing at 10 or more jobs at once and could easily be receiving several offers over a short period of time.


If your brand new employee receives other offers while they haven’t heard anything from you before their first day, they may be much more likely to withdraw their offer and go elsewhere. And that can be costly. With over 16% of new hires quitting by the end of Week One - and the cost to replace them already adding up to over $4,000 on average - focusing on getting them excited before their first day is more critical than ever. 


To create a best-in-class experience, consider adding the following to your employee pre-boarding roadmap: 


  • Buddy Introduction - if your company has a buddy system or mentorship program in place, introduce your new hire to their onboarding buddy/mentor prior to their first day via email. This can ease anxiety and provides them an automatic resource for any questions they may have.

If your company doesn’t have a formal peer-to-peer program in place, consider having a member of the HR team or a colleague on their functional team own communication and connection with new hires before their first day. 


  • Schedule + Expectations - starting a new job can give even the most confident people anxiety when it comes to the unknown. Ease your new team member’s worries by providing them a very detailed plan of what their first day - and ideally, first week - looks like.

The schedule should include all calendar items, who they’ll be meeting with, and if the meetings are in person or virtual. Take it a step further and provide information about what team members typically wear in the office or on Zoom calls, if they need to pack a lunch or if one will be provided, and what time they should expect to log in or arrive / log off or leave each day. If they will be working in a hybrid or in-person capacity, make sure you address parking, building access, a general layout of the space, and nearby restaurants and gas stations. 

One note about providing a detailed schedule for the first day/week: make sure you build in time for the employee to have self-study and reflection. It’s important to give them the space to do things like to organize their email and calendar, explore your company’s shared drive, read through onboarding information, say hi to new teammates, etc. 


  • SWAG or Welcome Gift - many employers have branded merchandise they can send to employees during their pre-boarding experience. Really want to impress? Take this a step further and provide your new team member with an e-gift card to the company SWAG store so they can select what they want to purchase. For example, some people may be uncomfortable if they’re asked their shirt size by a near stranger, so allowing them to make those selections on their own fosters a sense of inclusion right away.

If your company doesn’t have branded merchandise or a company store to let your new hire shop from, consider providing them a gift card to a meal delivery service so they can purchase a morning coffee and snack, or a gas gift card to help them out with their commute that first week. 

A handwritten welcome card from their direct manager and the CEO is a powerful and positive new hire experience. When 40% of workers say they never have met their CEO, a personalized introduction from them before their first day will stand out.


  • Paperwork - first days on the job are synonymous with HR paperwork. This can lead to a lackluster, impersonal first day. Focus your employee’s first few days on critical relationship building with team members, and send administrative paperwork to them during pre-boarding. It will give them more time to fill out at their leisure (does anyone ever feel completely confident in their ability to fill out tax forms?!), and it will free up hours that first day to get them connecting with other humans.

Included in pre-boarding paperwork should be a copy of the employee handbook, benefits information, a holiday calendar, organization charts for teams (with pictures), a copy of your Core Values and Mission Statement, and any other items that will help a new hire get acquainted.

If necessary, you can schedule a 15-minute paperwork review session on their first day to make sure they don’t have any outstanding questions or concerns.


  • Equipment - your new hire should ideally have all necessary equipment needed to start their job - laptop, keyboard, extra monitors, etc - a week before they begin. This gives them enough time to test everything out and ensure they can log in - or to troubleshoot with IT if they run into issues. 

  • Touchbase - it’s a best practice to reach out personally to your new hire 1-2 business days before Day One. This can be a quick phone call or an email - ask them which they prefer. The tone should be friendly and casual - voice your excitement over them starting and to ensure they feel ready. Make sure they’ve received all paperwork and equipment, know what to expect and where they’re headed first, have a few people they can reach out to with questions, and have any outstanding questions answered by you. This can go a long way in building trust and support - critical elements to a positive, engaging employee experience.


The time between an accepted offer and a first day - Pre-boarding - is a perfect opportunity for your company to create a memorable first impression on your new team member and provide them the reassurance they made the right decision to say "Yes" to your organization.


Lisa Bischoff

Lisa is the Program Manager for HubSearch's Employee Retention and People Operations offering. Her background is in designing and implementing employee experiences and strategies that create highly engaged and happy team members.