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 waited too long. According to Indeed, nearly 60% of companies report that candidates became unresponsive after accepting a verbal offer. Additionally, 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 significant time between when a candidate accepts a job and their start date doesn’t always help, especially when it’s a matter of weeks or even months.

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Pre-boarding employees is the period between a candidate signing their offer letter and starting their new role and this period can make or break the experience for your new hires. If your new hires feel neglected during this time, they may feel undervalued and unenthusiastic, and their perception of your brand could be negatively impacted. The focus with pre-boarding should be on 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 an “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 new hires, to ensure momentum is maintained before they start.

Organize 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 personalized welcome message.

If you are a remote-first business or your team is mostly working from home, think about what your new hire 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 and welcome your new hires, while also getting them excited for what’s to come. Extravagant welcome packages may not be possible or even necessary for every organization, but small gestures like sending a personalized 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 information you can share with your new hires at this point that can really set them up for success ahead of time. This may include your company values, your organizational structure, or 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 hires 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 organizing 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 hire, who will organically tell others of their great experience and spread the word about your organization.

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