As if recruitment in the current climate wasn’t hard enough, even when your preferred candiadate accepts a job offer doesn’t mean they will necessarily be onboard. Ian Moore examines what can be done to help make sure a new hire makes it to day one.
The cost of living crisis and weak economy have driven many people to cling on tightly to their current roles in fear of redundancy, pay cuts or simply the unknown. However, there’s another group who are not so scared, seeking job offer after job offer to find their perfect position.
The problem according to Gartner’s latest research, is that a large proportion of these individuals – 44% – are accepting job offers and then backing out, leaving their potential employers high and dry sometimes only days before the start date. The reason? 46% said they did so because they received a better offer elsewhere.
We’ve been seeing this trend for a number of months now and the message is clear: the recruitment process shouldn’t end when an offer is accepted; it should continue until the new starter steps through the door on their first day. It may feel like more work but it’s better than having to start the recruitment process all over again at the last minute.
So what changes should be made to keep your new recruit engaged and committed?
The first step concerns the offer letter. It’s commonplace for companies to use a standard template with the contact details, job title and remuneration package being the only amends made.
Onboarding with care
However, this can be where the first mistakes happen. After all, you’ve invested a great deal of time and consideration in the recruitment for that role. If you consider the interview process to be the courting in a relationship, then the offer letter is the marriage proposal.
Getting down on one knee
People go to great lengths to secure a “yes” in marriage so why should a job offer be any different? You’re asking for a long term commitment as well as their dedication every day, why not show in the offer letter just how important it is to you that they join your company?
There are several ways to do this, for example:
- A call from the CEO or MD to make the offer verbally just before the offer letter is issued
- A gift sent in the post to make them feel special and to give the offer more weight
- Additional benefits that are specifically tailored to the new starter’s lifestyle and needs.
This last suggestion is a particularly good approach as it shows you were paying attention in the interviews. For example, a new graduate may appreciate the idea of a sabbatical after several years of service. A parent, on the other hand, may need a flexible working structure, as would a candidate with a complicated and long commute.
Despite the cost of living crisis, money isn’t everything to everyone. Flexible hours or the ability to buy extra holiday could be more important.
Once they’ve accepted the offer – which seems to be the easy part according to Gartner – you need to strike while the iron’s hot, keeping their attention while they’re keen and excited about your offer.
Promptly after they have accepted, share with them details of their new team so that they can put names to the colleagues they’ll be working with and provide contact details so they can start to build relationships with them if they wish. For example: “You will be joining Philip and Grace within the Product Management department. They’re really looking forward to meeting you! Here is their contact information…”
People go to great lengths to secure a ‘yes’ in marriage so why should a job offer be any different?”
It should also prevent any feelings of isolation while they wait as they can ask questions they felt were too trivial for the interview process. If this feels too pushy, a more subtle approach could be to organise an in-person introduction by inviting them to a team workshop to help with training ahead of their first day. They could meet the team, learn more about their role and get a sense of what it feels like to work in your business ahead of their joining date.
There’s also a great deal that the line manager should do once the offer has been accepted. For example, any new recruit should benefit greatly from a clear schedule from offer acceptance, through to start date and beyond so that they can become engaged with their new employer as soon as possible.
Help them to visualise what their first week in the role will look like in terms of the induction process, who they’ll meet with and what will be expected of them. You can also share information on how you work as well as day-to-day processes and policies but just be mindful not to overwhelm them with information or give them the impression that they have lots of work to do in advance.
The key is to keep in touch with them every few weeks or so, to build excitement and pick up any concerns or questions early, and to keep reminding them of all the ways your business and their new role are different to others. One good way to do this is to provide case studies of people who started in a similar role and have progressed onto greatness. This should help deter them from looking for other jobs after accepting a job with you.
Of course, as Gartner found, one in two accepted offers will be withdrawn so it’s important to keep an eye out for cold feet. If the new recruit isn’t responding to any written or email communication, don’t leave it too long to pick up the phone to check in. Also, we recommend referring back to the interview notes to pick up any red flags of concerns or issues that might mean the job isn’t exactly what they want after all.
There’s so much you can do to deter a new starter from backing out of an offer but sometimes people simply change their minds, or upon attempting to resign their current employer unveil a counter-offer.
In any case, ensure that any other strong candidates from the interview process are kept warm. You could be back in touch with them sooner than you think.