Organizations know that hiring employees and frontline workers can be a struggle, which is why onboarding is essential to help them feel like part of the team on day one. However, many companies fail to recognize the equal (if not greater) importance of properly preboarding employees by nurturing them during the period between their offer-accepted date and their start date. 

The preboarding period is crucial to drive a sense of belonging, purpose, and confidence in new hires — especially frontline workers who may have limited interactions with their coworkers. When done right, preboarding can accelerate ramp-up time for new hires, so they’ll be able to contribute even faster.

How most companies (mis)handle preboarding

The moment an employee agrees to work for a company is often the time when they are the most excited they will ever be about working there. It’s when they actively want to learn more about the company, get their questions answered, and make their first days as productive as possible. This is the exact attitude that hiring managers want the employee to carry with them throughout their entire time at the company. So, why do most businesses go radio silent in their communications with new hires during the days between hire date and start date?

Despite the employer’s best intentions, new employees who haven’t been thoughtfully preboarded wind up entering their first day on the job already behind. These workers must spend the first couple of months learning about the company and the culture, navigating HR processes, and meeting the team. All of these steps need to happen to a degree before employees can fully perform the job duties they were hired to do.

A better way — the importance of preboarding

Businesses are beginning to see the flaw in the current model. Without a clearly defined preboarding process, new hires aren’t being set up for success. In response, more and more organizations are starting to create their own preboarding experiences. Programmed outreach schedules are becoming more commonplace, with automation and employees’ preferred communication channels being key drivers of successful preboarding processes.

Thankfully, SMS text messaging can help in 5 key areas of a best-in-class employee preboarding program:

5 goals for a meaningful preboarding program

1. Help new hires learn about your company

One common preboarding challenge is that newly-hired employees do not have access to secure company resources that exist behind a firewall until after their start date. Seeing some of those internal resources as soon as possible can be crucial to a positive experience, though.

New hires will often try to teach themselves about the company in the time leading up to their first day. You can make it easier for them by texting easily digestible resources that will let them hit the ground running. This can include information about the team, the company culture, the product, the customer, and the market. Just take care not to assign them too much work before they’re getting paid for it.

2. Nudge new hires to complete forms and paperwork

No one wants to start a relationship by nagging, but that’s exactly what HR professionals find themselves doing all too often. “How is it that this stellar candidate still hasn’t sent us a passport photo?” you may ask yourself. 

Before you start second-guessing the candidate’s commitment to the company (and your own decision-making skills for hiring them), understand that everyone may need a little nudge now and then. Try sending friendly reminders through automatic SMS text nudges to make sure they’ve received the paperwork they need and are aware of the deadlines.

3. Send benefits information and answer new hires’ questions

While most HR professionals will provide a summary of the available benefits before delivering a job offer, new hires will still want to see in-depth benefits coverage before they start. Email has historically been the go-to channel for sending this information. However, with inboxes more stuffed than ever, HR professionals are turning to SMS text messaging to make sure important communication about benefits information, timing, and selection actually gets read and completed. Automated text messaging also gives employees a judgement-free way to get their questions answered fast.

4. Answer any question that a new hire asks

When you say, “let us know if you have any questions,” your new hires should know that you mean it sincerely. While it might seem easy enough for the new hire to just email you their questions, that doesn’t always happen. There is a formality that comes with email, especially after it gets used for the more serious parts of the interview process. And depending on your industry, some employees may not use email at all, or very little.

This perceived barrier may prevent the new hire from reaching out with non-emergency questions like “what’s the dress code?” and “any advice for my first day?” These questions are likely on your new hire’s mind, but they may not want to bother you with an email. They would, however, feel comfortable asking in a less formal text message. Automated SMS text messaging makes it easy to answer these types of questions instantly.

5. Create a sense of belonging for new hires and show you care

One of the most important milestones to achieve when bringing a new hire into the company is the moment when they feel like they belong there and feel included. According to a Gartner study last year, the three key goals for employee inclusion should be to:

  1. Eliminate the feeling of being an outsider
  2. Bring everyone together
  3. Demonstrate care through benefits and initiatives

An employee engagement platform that specializes in SMS text messaging can help you achieve all three of these objectives.

Eliminate the feeling of being an outsider

Communicating often with employees through SMS texting helps them to immediately feel like someone is devoted to their success and that they have a way to get their questions answered. The simple act of checking in via text from time to time contributes to a sense of belonging, as well. 

Bring everyone together

Keeping everyone on the same page helps nurture a feeling of inclusiveness. You can do this easily with SMS texting by letting people know about events, development opportunities, social gatherings, and more. 

Demonstrate care through benefits and initiatives

Communicating about new benefits that apply to everyone in the company is a great way to highlight your commitment to your employees through real-world action. SMS texting is the perfect channel to make new hires aware of your benefits policies, recent initiatives, and other programs designed to help them succeed. 

SMS texting — Your superpower for successful preboarding

Sending the right resources only matters if the new hire reads what you send them. That’s where SMS texting really excels. Think about it, when was the last time you didn’t read a text message you received? While emails are getting read less and less, text message open rates have never been higher

Employee expectations have changed, and your business needs to change with them. Meet your new hires where they are by using SMS automation to communicate with them on their terms. This will allow you to send them automated messages with links to information on your company, forms they need to complete, and outlines of benefits — as well as instant answers to all of their pre-first-day questions. When an employee needs more information, they can easily reply to any text you’ve sent to begin a personal, one-on-one conversation. 

Using Mainstay to support your employees

Mainstay makes it easy to provide new hires with a positive preboarding process. Using SMS automation, your new hires will be better informed, feel more connected to the team, and be ready to start adding value on day one.