You’ve gone through the interview process with a few quality candidates. You found the perfect candidate for the job, they accepted your employment offer, and all the paperwork is signed. Then, a week before their scheduled start date, the candidate backs out of the deal and you have to start from square one.
What happened? This is a question that too many hiring managers find themselves asking in this exact situation, having lost a new hire before they even had their first day on the job. Many companies are starting to understand the importance of a strong onboarding process when it comes to employee retention, but fewer know that the true “danger zone” with a new hire is actually before their start date. A new hire is at the greatest risk of falling through from the moment a candidate accepts an offer of employment up until their first day in the office.
There are a lot of reasons a candidate might change their mind at the last minute, from counter offers to changes in life circumstances. So what can hiring managers do to help mitigate the possibility of a new hire not showing up on their start date? Here are five tips for avoiding that turnover “danger zone.”
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It may seem obvious, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that candidates are under a lot of stress during the job change process. Stay in regular contact with them to help remind them that you’re excited to have them join the team and that you’re there to support them during the challenging transition to a new job. You don’t necessarily need to speak to them every day, but more than two or three days shouldn’t go by without a quick email, call, or text, just to touch base and make them feel important to you. If possible, there should also be a minimum of one in-person meeting during that time, whether it’s a visit to the office to introduce them to their new team members or grabbing coffee just to ask how they are and what they might need from you.
Include Them in Business Decisions
Make sure the new hire feels like a member of the team right away. Find out what they want on their business cards. For example, if there’s flexibility on title, do they have a preference? Do they want their cell phone included? Give them input on any details you can: do they want an Apple or HP computer? What color do they want their company car to be? Have them weigh in on a current set of plans, talk to them about target customers, or have a conversation about the company’s five-year plans and where they fit in. Being asked for their opinions and preferences even before they officially start can help new hires feel like their new team already values them, which greatly reduces the likelihood that they’ll be tempted to reconsider their deal.
Schedule a Dinner With Company Leaders
If it’s geographically feasible, have the company President or CEO meet with the new hire for dinner. A welcoming company culture starts at the very top, and being invited to spend time with the company’s top-level executives is a great way to make an employee feel special. If the employee has a spouse or partner, invite them as well. You want the employee and their loved ones to feel comfortable with and celebrated by their new company’s leaders.
Involve the Family
A candidate’s family is one of their primary motivators for leaving, or staying in, a job. Show the employee that you aren’t just excited for them to join your team - you’re excited to welcome their family as well. Send a gift to the family - a basket of fruit, flowers, or a gift certificate to a local restaurant, for example. Hand-written notes are also hugely meaningful, with or separately from the gift, and can be especially impactful if they also address the employee’s spouse by name. These subtleties go a long way in establishing a strong relationship with a new hire and helping them to stay excited about coming to work for your company.
Don’t Take Them For Granted
A candidate can check every box on your list - high character, proven career stability, great motivation for changing jobs - and still change their minds about your company. No one is immune from every risk factor that accompanies a job change. So don’t assume that just because a candidate has accepted the job offer and has all the right qualifications, they’re not at just as much risk as anyone else during the “danger zone” period. Don’t take it for granted that a “yes” on an employment offer guarantees a successful start date.
All of these actions center around one main idea: hiring managers need to treat new hires as employees from the day they accept the job offer, not starting on their first day. A hiring manager's job doesn’t end with acceptance; you also need the employee to show up on their first day, feeling valued and excited to be a part of their new team.