If you Google “Onboarding Best Practices”, you will find a ton of great ideas on what to do when your new employee starts. Proper onboarding is extremely important and most companies do an adequate job once the new employee starts. The area where companies and hiring managers can most improve is during the time the offer is accepted and the start date. I call this period of time “The Silent Period.”
With the talent gap widening, a fierce war for top-talent has begun. More and more companies are doing whatever possible to keep their A-Players, and counteroffers are definitely back as a commonplace practice. The old recruiter adage is that more than 60% of those who accept counteroffers leave or are terminated within six to twelve months, and 50% restart their searches within 90 days. As a recruiter, the word “counteroffer” are nightmarish. As someone anticipating a new employee, they should be equally as frightened. So, how can we work together to prevent such a devastating thing from happening? Let me share some ideas about what we can do to bridge the gap between offer-acceptance and start date.
One way to continue the momentum created in the interview process is to congratulate the winning candidate on their joining the team. Make them feel like they won something that others were seeking. This first step is best done over email.
The Bonding Call
Within a couple days after the Congratulations Email, put a call out to the candidate. Congratulate them again, and let them know that you are releasing the other candidates. This is important because it shows that you are fully committed to them, and it implies an expected reciprocation. I encourage hiring managers to explain in their own words that they have released the other competing candidates from consideration and that they are hoping a reciprocal commitment in that the new employee has cut the chord with other companies. A counteroffer isn't just an offer from their previous employer; it can also come from one of the other companies they were pursuing during their job search. If you're a manager who has never been snake-bitten by this, trust me, it happens. Avoid this from happening by exchanging some commitments with the new employee on the bonding call.
Qualities that Show Quality
As their future manager, the number one quality that you can show during The Silent Period is empathy. This is a very stressful time for the candidate, and as their new manager, you can really ease their anxiety by setting clear expectations about the period between acceptance and start date. Be comforting, empathetic, and show them you care about the stressful situation they are facing.
“The Silent Period”
As we just discussed, heading toward the unknown causes apprehension. It is naïve to leave your candidate insecurely standing in silence during this time. Doing so can allow for buyer’s remorse, doubt, and speculation about the silence to creep into their minds. Their former company, even with the reasons they had for leaving, is comfortable to them and may end up being a safe-haven if they don’t hear from you during this period. The war for talent is at its peak at this time, and often new managers will rest on their laurels thinking the deal is done...the war is won. Welcome them and keep in close touch with your new employee, and don’t allow the war to be lost in the final hour. Any contact during “The Silent Period” is a good contact, whether it is an email, a quick conversation about benefits, to talk shop, to get an opinion, or a call just to see how things are going. These gestures will keep the candidate mentally engaged in your organization instead of focusing on their former company and the drama that has ensued following their resignation.