JUST BECAUSE HE OR SHE HAS SIGNED THE OFFER LETTER, DOESN’T GUARANTEE THAT YOUR NEW HIRE TURNS UP FOR WORK ON THE FIRST DAY. AND IF YOU’RE AWARE OF THIS REALITY, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE STEPS TO MAKE SURE THIS CAN BE AVOIDED.
Have you ever had a candidate that signed their offer letter, but then changed their mind and decided to join a different company? Or worse, they didn’t bother informing you, and just did not turn up on the first day. Now you can get upset about how unprofessional this behaviour is, and I would agree with you, but there are some realities that you need to be aware of.
And that reality is that your “new hire” is a person and a person can get influenced and is free to change their mind at any time.
You see, while you new hire was looking for a new job, it was often done confidentially, and their friends and colleagues / bosses would not have known about it. Now that they have signed the offer letter, it sets into motion a chain of events, and it is this chain of events that will easily sway them to change their minds. As soon as they signed their offer letter, these three things will start to happen:
For many employers, they believe getting the offer letter signed means the hire is confirmed. But in reality, it’s far from being confirmed.
1) They will get counter-offered
If your new hire is any good, chances are they will be made a counter-offer as soon as they resign. And depending on how badly their current company wants to keep them, that means their colleagues or leaders will continuously convince them to change their minds, either by offering them more, or promising them a better future. (Separate article on managing counter-offers to follow)
2) They may get offers from other companies
In the perfect world, they only interviewed at your company. Because they REALLY want to join you, it’s the only company for them.
In reality, that doesn’t happen. Jobseekers will always be interviewing at several places because they are weighing their options, and wouldn’t know which companies would make them an offer. So even if they’ve accepted your job offer, other offers may slowly come through from other companies. And because they now have something to compare to (your offer), there’s a good chance
3) They may hear bad feedback about you over time
Their friends and colleagues will start hearing about the new company they are joining. They will have opinions. They would have heard rumours. And it’s difficult to control rumours or points of view. After all, over the years, no matter how good you believe your company culture is, there is always bound to be ex-employees that who not have a good experience. That’s why they left isn’t it?
And suddenly your new hire isn’t so sure anymore. With such a huge influx of “friendly” advice, some may start re-evaluating if they truly want to be at your organisation.
No matter how good you believe your company culture is, there will always be ex-employees who did not have a good experience.
So what do I do?
The most important thing for you to understand as an employer is that signing the offer letter does not necessarily mean they will join. I’m not going down the route of saying legally they should join because they’ve signed the contract, because in practice, it’s not worth pursuing legal action over matters like this (at least I’ve not seen it myself).
The following will greatly increase the chances that your new hire turns up for work:
1) Shorten the notice period / get them to start sooner
If you live in a country where you are able to buy out notice periods, you should seriously consider it if you have the resources. From experience, waiting any longer than a month means you stand a higher chance of your new hire changing their minds. So consider a buy out and get them to start as soon as possible.
2) Invite them to meet casually while waiting to start
Maybe you’re having team lunch? An office party? Or maybe just a casual coffee. If they are comfortable, invite them to join you. This will get them to start getting to know the team better, and especially if there are people in the team that they can get along with, it will help make them feel integrated and significantly more likely to stay the course.
After all, even if they hear rumours about your company from friends or colleagues, if it does not match their own experience while socialising with you, it will not affect them or change their minds.
It is worth noting that if they never want to join you for these events (unless you believe it’s for a good reason), it’s a red flag that they not be 100% certain they will be joining your company.
3) Give them a call, with a valid reason
Perhaps before they start, you want to get their business cards ready for them? Or ask their opinion about a project you are about to start? Have a valid reason to give them a call, get them involved in their new job in small ways, and during the call you will also be able to gauge if they are still warm, or if things have changed. Always check with them how they have been doing, and if anything has changed since you last spoke.
You can pick up cues about any change of heart from the phone call.
Remember, just because they’ve signed the offer letter, it does not mean your job is done. Keep your new hires warm, get them involved early with the team, and make sure they start their new role on a positive note.