Preboarding: How to Stop New IT Hires From Walking Away From Offers They’ve Already Accepted

Just because you’ve made the hire doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a new employee. New IT hires are free to walk away at any moment before they actually sign your offer letter – and they may choose to walk away soon afterward. A recent Bersin by Deloitte study found that a full 22 percent of employee turnover occurs during the first 45 days on the job – sometimes because the new employee accepts a counteroffer; but more often, simply because they didn’t feel welcome.

In the time between this moment and that turnover, you may be wasting valuable time and resources preparing the new employees tax and legal paperwork, putting together a first-day briefing, and failing to arrange a backup plan.

But preboarding – preparation for onboarding – achieves a lot more than just keeping your new hire at their desk. When done right, it can also help reduce first-day jitters, start the relationship off on the right foot, and make sure your new employee is ready to hit the ground running. Here are a few practical tips for creating a preboarding process that makes your new IT hires feel like part of the family, right from the start.

Establish rapport right away.
Recruiters agree that direct face-to-face is one of the most powerful tools for reinforcing a relationship with a new hire. Schedule low-pressure meetings offsite – grab a coffee one day, then treat your new hire to a nice lunch later that week. You might even consider bringing them into the office on a weekend, when no one else is around, just to get them used to the environment. If it’s tough to schedule in-person meetings, call your new hire – or, better yet, video-call them – every few days, just to check in and chat.

Along the way, look for opportunities to organically bring up your excitement about having your new hire on board. Mention the cutting-edge technology they’ll get to play with, and the fun activities you’ve got scheduled over the next few months, and the interests and hobbies they’ve got in common with other people on their team. Get an ongoing conversation going, and make them feel like they’re already part of the crew. Consider assigning them a specific mentor at the office.

Counteract those first-day fears.
As I mentioned in the intro, the vast majority of IT hires who walk away from a new job do so because they fear some kind of problem. Maybe their family doesn’t want to relocate, or a recruiter warns them they’ll miss out on better offers, or – most common of all – they get their first look at the workload and decide it’s above their pay grade. It’s your job to counteract these fears, and prepare your new hire to stroll in with supreme confidence on their first day.

You can provide your new hire with confidence in a wide range of ways. One of the simplest is to set them up with a company email account – and even a company computer, if possible. A lot of companies also provide new hires with a “Day 1 Survival Kit,” including company swag like a coffee mug and notebook, a stack of business cards, a map of the local area, and some coupons for nearby eateries. None of this stuff needs to be expensive – its purpose is to demonstrate that you care.

On a more practical level, prepare an informational packet with basic info on the company, links to useful reference websites, contact info for team members, a walkthrough of day-to-day schedules, and a briefing on the specific activities they’ll be expected to perform in their first week on the job. This not only makes the new hire feel like part of the team – it also ensures they’ll become an effective team member as quickly as possible.

Make sure they sign – and that everyone knows it.
Never settle for just a verbal acceptance. Get the new hire’s signature on the dotted line, pronto. The simple act of signing an offer letter often does a lot to raise a new hire’s level of commitment – especially if it’s done in your presence. You might also consider getting your new IT hire to formally sign up for some training courses or other enrichment activities during their first months on the job.

You might even call the new hire’s references – thank them for their help, let them know your offer’s been accepted, and encourage them to call and congratulate your new hire. All these things reinforce the reality of the new hire’s decision, while (if necessary) subtly upping the social pressure not to back out.

A recent survey by Succeed@IBM found that new hires who go through preboarding are 80 percent less likely to leave their jobs during their first year. So above all, reinforce your new hire’s acceptance decision with lots of encouragement. Congratulate them on having made the right choice.