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Five Tips to Keep New Hires Engaged Before Their Start Date

"65% of employers say they have had job seekers accept an offer and then not show up for their first day of work."

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Onboarding new employees is a critical point in the talent acquisition lifecycle. With 22% of employee turnover occurring within the first 45 days of joining a company, there’s no question why HR teams consider onboarding programs as a priority.

However, as the following data suggests, if your team waits until day one to engage a new hire, you may have left it too late. According to Indeed, nearly 60% of companies report having had candidates become unresponsive after accepting a verbal offer. Moreover, a surprising 65% of employers say they have had job seekers accept an offer and then not show up for their first day of work. There are many reasons why this happens, but the time between a candidate accepting the job and their start date (which can be weeks or even months) doesn’t always help.

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Pre-boarding employees is the period between a candidate signing their offer letter and starting their new role and it can make or break the experience for your new hires. If your new hires feel neglected during this time, they may feel undervalued, unenthusiastic, and their perception of your brand could be negatively impacted. The focus with pre-boarding should be preparing your new hire/s and drumming up some excitement before their first day approaches.

Pre-boarding strategies very much depend on your company culture, available budget and creative ideas. The important thing is to have a plan in place to set your new joiners up for success.

Below, we explore five ways to effectively keep new hires engaged before their start date.

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Pre-boarding new employees should be a joint effort.

Pre-boarding new talent before day one of employment is not only a “HR thing”, it should be a joint effort. This step is a great opportunity for managers to take ownership and accountability for communication with their new joiners and to start building up their relationship. Consider building a new starter guide for managers with ideas and a timeline of when to reach out to their new joiners to ensure momentum is maintained before they start.

Organise an informal get-together with team members.

Schedule a lunch or a coffee meetup for the new hire, their manager and the team they’ll work with ahead of joining so everyone can meet properly and converse in a casual setting. In today’s virtual world, this is made slightly easier as you don’t need to think about location logistics. If a lunch meeting isn’t practical, book a video call for the new hire and their team. 

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Send company “swag” or a personalised welcome message.

If you are a remote-first business or your team is mostly working from home, think about what your new joiner would typically receive on day one of joining your company if they were working in the office. Don’t let this “surprise and delight” element slip. Sending your new hires a card, a gift or some company merchandise, also known as “swag”, ahead of them joining is a great way to promote your brand identity as well as welcome your new hires and get them excited for what’s to come. Extravagant welcome packages may not be possible for every organisation or even necessary, but little gestures like sending a personalised card can go a long way.

Share a new starter pack and get a head start on admin tasks.

Aside from the more fun bits in your welcome pack, think about the information you can share with your new joiners at this point that can really set them up for success ahead of time, such as your company values, your organisational structure and the projects they will be involved in. Using this time to also get ahead on admin tasks can be helpful for your team and your new starter. Make people aware that the admin isn’t mandatory to complete straight away or ahead of time, but explain why they might want to get started early to have a more fun-filled first day when they join.

Remember: you shouldn’t be putting them to work before they’ve started, but it’s essential to make your new hires feel more comfortable and less anxious in the run-up to joining. Ensure they know that they can contact someone via phone or email if they have any questions or concerns before day one. 

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Welcome the new hires to company-wide meetings or social events.

Why not consider inviting new joiners to one or two company-wide meetings so they can gain more of an insight into your teams, the company culture and the work environment? If you’re already organising any remote socials such as pub quizzes, or team hangouts, there’s certainly nothing in the rulebook that says you can’t invite your new joiner along to meet the team in advance.

All this effort will result in a more engaged new joiner who will organically tell others of their great experience and spread the word of your organisation.

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