How To Engage A New Hire Before their Start Date

He signed the offer letter, we celebrated and enjoyed lunch, and then two weeks later, the day before his start date, I got an emailing apologizing that he had taken another offer. What?

If you have had this happen you probably felt like you got sucker punched, I certainly did. But it was a good lesson never to take a new hire for granted and from this moment onwards I never did.

But not taking a new hire for granted is more than just ensuring they don’t take another offer, it’s about setting them up for success, engaging them into your team and culture, helping them feel like they belong, and providing affirmation that they made the right choice. It’s about building a relationship.

After you propose marriage, it is unlikely you would just wait until the wedding day to grow your relationship. Over the last 10 years, while supporting hundreds of placements in my executive recruiting company, we developed many ideas and strategies for both my team and clients to implement after the offer letter is signed to create connection.

If you are too busy to execute many of these low-cost, low effort ideas, let me remind you of your potential losses. If they left early, or never showed up, what will it cost you to recruit again, cover the lost time for a restart, plus all the extra stress and workload on you and the rest of the team? If the new hire doesn’t feel the love, doesn’t connect well, or takes too long to establish trusting relationships, what will the cost be in lost productivity or team tension? Are you motivated yet? Possibly you consider this is HR’s or the new hire’s responsibility. If so, are you really going to pass the buck and put a new hire’s success (and yours) at risk because it is not your job?

Okay now that we have that sorted out let’s get to some strategies. In this article we are assuming you have done all the steps to ensure a good fit for success and retention, and we are picking it up from here.

8 Ways to Engage a new hire after the offer letter is signed:

1. Access your insight and wisdom

Before the offer letter is signed, pause, and imagine what this person might need or value from you. You have gotten to know them and been a part of their decision-making process so trust that you will have insights and jot down your ideas.

2. Send a congratulatory email (cc all stakeholders)

Reiterate why you are excited for them to join, the value they bring, the hopes you have for them, and specifically address how this opportunity meets their needs. Hopefully during the interview process you will have learned what their top needs are and how the company, team and you as a leader are a good match. If you don’t have time to craft an email, ask your recruiter to do so or send a short video (Loom is a great tool for this).

3. Set up a meeting the same day the offer is signed to talk about 3 things:

1.What to expect after they make their decision

  • Changing jobs is a big decision and involves many stakeholders and complexities. As excited as a new hire is they can be equally overwhelmed with ‘What ifs …”. Remind them to expect these feelings and encourage them to review their reasons for and the benefits of this change. Share this article with them for more insight on what to expect and how to manage.
  •  Ask if there is anything you can help with – your care and empathy is often enough.
  • Your goal is to ensure they are grounded in their decisions, supported by key people, and have their questions and concerns addressed with regards to next steps.

2. What to expect when you resign

  • A counteroffer is likely, so talk about how they will manage this. Share some good practices of delivering a resignation to reduce this likelihood.
  • Anger and resentment from their current manager along with their own guilt might come into play so ensure they are armed with some good skills to be Teflon like and not take ownership for the other person’s reaction and how to be empathetic but resolved.

3. What is their transition plan and how much notice do they really need to give?

  • Ask them about their transition plan and encourage as short a timeframe as possible. Affirm their ideas and maybe offer some of yours. Their goal is to maintain good relations and arrive positive and energized, ready to start.

4. Make it a celebration!

  • After a start date is set and they have agreed to when an announcement can go public, it is time to celebrate.
  • Announce it both internally and externally. Post in LinkedIn and your company sites. Have someone get creative in Canva to add to your posts.
  • Send a simple welcome gift to their home – company t-shirt, swag, welcome note, candy, balloons, flowers, etc.
  • Arrange for announcement in local business, association, or industry publications as appropriate.
  • If there is 2 weeks or more before a start, arrange for a lunch with you or a peer at the halfway point (check in on how they are transitioning and feeling about the start).

5. Start a communications campaign:

Preplan this campaign to ensure it happens. Even better, assign this task to someone who will be reporting to the new hire.

  • Ask the new hire what information or material they would like to review in advance.
  • Send an email every other day with information that will be of interest to the new hire. Once you sit down and start thinking of things to share, you’ll have a long list. Keep the email short. Introduce as “I thought you would find this interesting” or “something I forgot to mention” and include things like recent press releases, internal announcements, profiles on peers and team members, etc.
  • Mail them some of the books that the team has read or online trainings they have taken.
  • Make sure HR has dates to get things prepared and the information they require.

6. Prepare the first day (or week) agenda:

  • First impressions count for everyone involved so plan this especially well.
  • Determine who will welcome them, give them a tour, ensure they know where to find the basics.
  • Have their space ready with supplies and a nice touch like a company coffee mug and snack basket (if they are starting virtually this can be delivered to their home office).
  • Arrange for a welcome lunch or coffee with their team(s)
  • Arrange short welcome meetings with their key stakeholders in person or Zoom.
  • Consider assigning an ambassador or mentor. This could be a longer-term employee who can answer questions and check in with the new hire to ensure they have what they need. For more junior positions it is ideal to assign a peer mentor to help them maneuver in a new culture.

7. Help them prepare a summary on their style and preferences

Have them take a reputable assessment so they can build out a summary of their personality style, how they like to lead, how they prefer to be coached, etc.

This is not a document for them to send out to be read but rather a tool for them to engage in conversations to accelerate the ‘get to know you’ phase. Building rapport and mutual respect is a key step to building trust and good communication.

Premierehire provides a New Leader Accelerator coaching process that helps to accomplish this through an in-depth assessment, coaching support, and a Similarities and Differences to Watch coaching session with the new hire and their manager. You can read more here.

Premierehire also has an affordable and easy to use tool for teams to get to know each other called Stop Guessing for Teams.

8. Plan it in advance

Now that you have lots of ideas, write out a plan and determine who else you can engage to help execute it.

The more you do this, the easier it will become, and it will become a regular part of your hiring process. With success you will probably want to expand this practice so pull together a group of stakeholders to determine how you can automate, simplify, and even scale some of these good practices so every new hire, from the front line to the C-suite, can feel the love and get connected faster.

Best of success to in your hiring and onboarding!

If you have some ideas or variations of your own, please share in the comments section below. Thanks for sharing.

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