New Hire Preboarding: A Big.Jobs Guide to Improving Your Offer-to-joining Rate

smiling woman in blue shirt

As the competition for acquiring top talent heats up, employers are increasingly experiencing candidate drop-offs after they accept their job offers. The problem gets a lot more aggravated in the post-COVID era wherein entire hiring lifecycles happen remotely, and few things fall between the cracks.

Last year, 65% of hiring companies reported hiring people who didn’t show up on their first day.

When that happens, it sets back your hiring endeavor by weeks, if not months, and makes your team’s effort, time & money go in vain. In this guide, we’ll discuss primary reasons why candidates don’t join after accepting an offer and how this turnover can be reduced.

Offer-to-joining Rate

Offer-to-joining Rate is an HR metric that shows the percentage of candidates who showed up on day one after accepting a formal job offer. As with every recruiting metric, numbers tell insightful stories. A 30 percent average offer-to-joining rate shows that something is definitely wrong with your talent acquisition strategies or process. And unless you’re Google or another prestigious company, a 100% offer-to-joining rate is unusual.

Generally, companies should aim to keep this metric high – an offer acceptance rate upwards of 70% indicates that there’s a good match between the candidate’s expectations & the company’s requirements, and the hiring experience is positive.

Why do candidates end up dropping off after accepting the job offers?

Why would a candidate go through the trouble of applying through your job, do well in your rigorous interviews & assessments to get an offer, accepts it – only to ghost?

  • Mismatch in expected salary and benefits
  • There’s a better offer in hand
  • They consider this offer as leverage to negotiate a pay raise in their existing job
  • Personal restrictions (work hours, geography, family responsibilities)
  • Concerns with the company’s reputation, culture, and leadership
  • Poor candidate experience
  • Poor communication from the company after rolling out the offer
  • Lack of transparency and trust

A lot of the reasons in the above list are beyond your control. But the reasons related to communication & candidate experience can be easily fixed with a structured preboarding process for your new hires and can significantly reduce your dropoffs.

Preboarding as an engagement tool

Preboarding is an engagement process with your new hire after they accept your job offer till the day they join your organization. Traditionally, preboarding was considered to be a subset of your entire new-hire onboarding process. But in this new era, companies need to focus a lot more on preboarding than just shifting some of the onboarding activities before day one of your new employee.

Preboarding is the new ‘black’.

– Emily, People Operations, SendGrid

Employee preboarding is not a good-to-have process, it’s a must-have. This is an opportune time to welcome and engage the new hires, making sure that they know they’re already part of the team and prepare them for what’s to come.

Here are some of the ideas you can pick up while designing your preboarding program.

Send a welcome kit (company swag, personalized letter)

Everyone loves gifts, and it’s the gesture that counts more. Welcome kits are not just about fun, but it’s also a way to ensure your new employee has useful items for their workday. Send delightful welcome packages in anticipation of their joining. Add some company swag. If they mentioned their family during the interview, include items for their spouse and kids too. You can also send a welcome email or a letter by the CEO or the hiring manager expressing how your team is looking forward to welcoming them. Keep it light, but impactful.

At Big.Jobs, we have created a Big Box for each candidate who accepts an offer with any of our hiring clients. It contains useful swag, e-learning gift cards along with a handwritten congratulatory note for their new job.

Welcome kit by Wrike
Welcome kit by Wrike

Tell them what to expect by sharing your preboarding program

Don’t create a long lapse in communication between a candidate accepting the job & their start date. Personalize your preboarding program to fit the notice period of your new joinee and share the details with them. If there’s a schedule of activities & events happening during this time, make sure to send invites to their calendar to keep them organized.

This is also a good time to share relevant resources such as FAQs, employee handbooks, benefits policy, and role-specific information.

Get their feedback on the hiring process

Involving your new hire by asking for feedback kickstarts their transition from an applicant to a team member. You’re not only making them feel valued, but you’re also empowering them by bringing them in as a stakeholder in a small way before their start date.

However, this is much more than an engagement exercise – there’s no better source of insights about your hiring process than your most recent hire. These insights could have a big impact on your future recruitment.

According to Glassdoor, in 2018, 72% of job seekers posted about a poor experience with a company during hiring.

To conduct this, you can design a closed-ended candidate experience survey asking for specific feedback around your interviewers, recruiters, and the overall process.

Here’s a Candidate Experience Survey Template used by our team

Introduce them to their reporting manager

Schedule a meet and greet with their new reporting manager to establish a repo early on and get them acquainted. In this time, reporting managers can answer any work-related questions that they might have, make them understand roles & responsibilities that they’re going to pick up. Prepare an org chart that helps them understand where each person falls in the organization. It can also help the new employee understand the career progression for her role.

When it’s closer to the joining date, connect the new employee with his/her other immediate team members through email and include the new employee’s name and start date.

Assign a buddy or a mentor, foster a sense of belonging and connection

Freshworks, a SaaS unicorn based out of India, extends their buddy program even to those who have accepted the offer but have yet to join the company.

56% of new employees want a buddy or mentor

Joining a new company can be overwhelming, and the wait for the start date can get one unnerved. A buddy can help the incoming hire navigate effectively through this period and ease their jitters. A little information can go a long way to allay fears of joining the new job at your company. It also fosters an environment wherein you’re encouraging engagement by offering a friendly hand and showing them you care.

Get a headstart on paperwork

Admin work is the most effort-intensive (and boring) process of an employee onboarding, and often eats a new employee’s first day or two. Nobody wants to spend their first day signing forms and setting up accounts. Move some parts of the paperwork to preboarding phase by initiating paperwork & compliance a little early to increase engagement. Use an electronic solution such as DocuSign to deliver and accept forms & legal paperwork to make this process seamless.

The idea is to create a centralized list of all the tasks, activities, forms that new hires can finish up ahead of time to get a headstart, such as:

  • NDAs
  • verification of personal, professional details
  • setting up of company accounts (email, Slack, tools)
  • payroll documents
  • tax forms

Ask them for device preferences, send them as they get closer to their start date

In this war for talent, some ambitious companies are going a step further by wooing incoming joinees with early access to the good stuff. Fintech unicorn, CRED, took it up a notch by sending Macbooks just a week after candidates accepting their offers. In some instances, it also transferred the first month’s advance salary a couple of days before their joining date.

This is a small but impactful way to establish trust with the candidates & allow them to experience a little bit of culture early on in their journey.

Give them early access to internal resources for their learning & development

If you have an L&D platform, give them early access to some of the resources so that they can get a taste of what to expect in their new role. It also enables them to get familiar with the company’s culture & values. Share exciting company news, insights & other publicly available information with your new hires which will help them to start learning before the actual joining.

If your company hosts a weekly happy hour or other social events, invite the new hire to attend

Nothing like an informal get-together to build relationships before the first day and make the new person comfortable. It could be virtual meals or happy hours, or just allowing them to participate in existing social activities & create some early bonds.

76% of new hires feel socialization is most important.

This can also help an employee in unexpected ways. For instance, Freshworks gives incoming joinees access to their internal communication channel (Facebook Workplace) ahead of their start date. This is widely used by some of the new employees to connect with colleagues and find appropriate accommodation or flatmates through the social group.


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