Making Pre-boarding and Onboarding a Top Priority

Investing in pre-boarding and onboarding initiatives improves retention and fosters a positive candidate experience, ultimately driving business impact.

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May 1, 2024

Recruiting priorities for Talent Acquisition (TA) leaders and their teams have become increasingly competitive, with pre-boarding and onboarding consistently ranking among the top five priorities according to our monthly CandE Pulse surveys. Maybe it’s a trend, but it has persisted for the past four months, and it will be interesting to see what the April CandE Pulse results will be in early May.

I recently reviewed CandE Benchmark data with a participating company. Most of our discussion centered on the advantages of implementing more nurturing communication and engagement strategies with new hires before their start date. They said it was something on their list to invest more in because they knew it would help with retention from day one. Let me be clear, dear reader. I’m talking about authentic engagement beyond just checking the new hire boxes and completing the paperwork.

During our conversation on pre-boarding and onboarding, I highlighted a concerning trend: Most new hires do not receive communication from their hiring managers before their start date ( see the tables below). They recognized this issue but acknowledged the challenges associated with addressing it effectively.

According to our data, when new hires heard from their hiring managers, their Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating for willingness to refer others increased by 126%. While other factors contribute to this rating increase, the strength of the relationship between new hires and their hiring managers is undeniable.

Again, they echoed something they wanted to work on. In this lukewarm market, where hot and cold pools abound, and overall candidate experience has deteriorated according to our benchmark research; it’s important to invest in the recruiting activities that positively impact the business and have the greatest return.

In one of my past articles, I talked about the candidate experience of my 15-year-old Gen Z daughter, who applied for her first paying job as a summer camp counselor, which she was excited about. She wants to be a paid summer camp counselor at the same camp she’d been a volunteer junior leader for the past two years (where the kids loved her).

After she applied came the waiting. Our local parks and recreation department has limited staff and also relies on volunteers, but after a couple of weeks of not hearing back, our daughter was a little anxious. She asked us if she should follow up, and I gave her a resounding “yes”, just like I told the TA leader above. Do it professionally and relentlessly follow up, and don’t be apologetic about it (or try not to be – my daughter, like me, is apologetic).

So, my daughter followed up and thankfully got a response that they were behind on reviewing applications and scheduling interviews. This is normal but frustrating for adults and teens alike. Soon after, they contacted her to schedule an interview, which she did in person. Before her interview, we coached her, and she thought she did pretty well.

Then came more waiting. She followed up again and finally got the answer she was hoping for: she got the job offer. She even spoke with both hiring managers running the camp and now just needs to hear from HR about her paperwork, etc. She won’t start until the end of May, but both hiring managers told her to reach out anytime she has questions. That’s the experience we all want as new hires!

A little bit later, I wondered if they would ask my daughter for feedback about her recruiting experience before she starts in a month. It would be amazing if they did, and I’m not sure if they ever will, but if they did ask about her experience, that would be another winning candidate experience. However, on average, less than one-third of new hires in our benchmark research were asked for feedback before their start date (see tables below).


Here is something you need to remember. While less than one-third of new hires in our benchmark research were asked for feedback before their start date, those who were asked saw a remarkable 133% increase in their NPS rating for willingness to refer others. These findings underscore the significance of nurturing communications and engagement with new hires before their start date. The pre-boarding super wins are clear—nurturing communications and engagement with new hires before their start date can and will impact their initial retention and their willingness to refer others.

There’s still time to assess and enhance your candidate experience this year through our CandE Benchmark Research and Awards Program. Learn more about how you can participate and drive meaningful change HERE.

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