Why You’re Losing Your Top Employees Before They Even Start

Posted in Career & Performance

Ever been ghosted?

We’re not talking about that time your potential soulmate stopped replying to your texts after your first date (their loss!). We’re talking about employee ghosting. Less heart wrenching but nevertheless painful, employee ghosting is a rising trend in which candidates and employees don’t show up for scheduled interviews, don’t arrive for their first day of work, and even quit without giving any notice.

Their perfectly legitimate (selfish!) choice to abandon the opportunity (shoot through) sends you scrambling back to square one (gee thanks). As well as being really frustrating, it’s woefully inefficient.

What could be the cause of such a spectacularly inconvenient disappearing act?


It’s Not Me, It’s You 

It could be low unemployment rates putting the power back in the hands of employees. It could be a generational thing. It could be that they had to move interstate to care for a sickly grandma.

All of the above are out of your control anyway. What is in your control, and is likely to be at least part of the cause, is that you missed an opportunity for human connection.

Employees Are People Too, You Know

You see, your new employees are real people with real feelings, expectations, dreams and fears. They originally accepted the role because they were pumped about the opportunity. But since then, the deluge of communication between you has trickled to a halt (except for the request to complete reams of boring paperwork).

In the absence of information, people make stuff up. They fill in the blanks with whatever their imagination serves up (usually negative) because we’re human, and our brains can’t stand the void.

Maybe I’ve made a mistake/won’t click with the team/should accept that other offer.

FOMO has let itself in, got itself a drink and made itself at home. They are disengaging.


Don’t Fence Me In

The best talent know they have options, and are probably thinking it’s smart to keep those options open. They don’t want to get tied down to your organisation if there is a whiff of greener grass on the breeze! They’re second guessing their decision and wondering if they’re a better fit elsewhere.

The trick to preventing all this? Maintaining the emotional momentum you so skilfully built up prior to them accepting the role. That is, maintaining the excitement and positive feelings they have about the prospect of working for your organisation.

People Not Paperwork

Traditional onboarding completely neglects this. It focuses on processes, information and checklists. It’s built for company compliance, not people.

Let’s face it: Traditional onboarding is broken.

Broken onboarding programs result in unnecessarily high attrition, low productivity and ultimately, loss of profit.

Short Tenures = Big Bucks + Lots of (wasted) Time

According to research by the Aberdeen Group, 90% of businesses believe that employees make their decision to stay within their first year of employment. Even more striking are the studies that report up to 20% of all new hires actually resign within the first 45 days of their role, and that the average rate of employee disengagement is 35%, globally.

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that the actual, total costs associated with individual turnovers can range from 90 to 200 percent of the employee’s annual salary. In Australia, employee turnover is reported to have cost businesses $3.8 billion over 12 months.

The early resignation (or no show) of a new hire is both expensive and demoralizing – for everyone involved.


How to Get it Right; From the Start

So we know that maintaining emotional momentum can help stave off disillusionment and disappointment, and help ensure people a) show up on day one, and b) decide to stick around, so that c) you don’t waste a bunch of time and money.

But how does one achieve this, you ask?

The answer: engagement onboarding.

Engagement onboarding is all about keeping new hires engaged and excited from the moment they accept a job offer. It’s about moving beyond the traditional paperwork and process-driven approach and emphasising a greater level of interaction with employees to help reinforce their decision to join.

It’s about using real-time communication and personalization to build a connection between new hires and the organisation, maintaining engagement through their critical first day of work, and on into the foreseeable future.

What It Looks Like

Here are a few simple examples of what engagement onboarding can look like:

  • Sending the new hire personalized messages from their manager, welcoming them on board.
  • Sending a video introducing them to the organisation and the team.
  • Connecting them with peers and experts internally so they can ask questions and prepare themselves for the role.
  • Providing early access to the company intranet so they can start to consume relevant onboarding content.
  • Offering a virtual office tour via video, or even 360 video.
  • Using electronic signing and document systems to get those payroll, tax and insurance processes settled in advance.
  • As Day One approaches, explaining any expectations and relevant logistics for the role so they are as comfortable as possible when they finally arrive.

Need Some Proof it Works?

Broader research backs up the link between quality onboarding and employee productivity and turnover (and in turn, company success and growth).

In research by global recruitment form Hays, 91% of employees said a good onboarding process is a ‘very important’ or ‘important” engagement factor. Some 51% of employees said they’d go “above and beyond” if they were given a good induction and onboarding, with 22% saying that they’d look for another job if their onboarding sucked.

A survey conducted in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder reported that employers using a structured onboarding program benefit from an increase in employee engagement (49 percent), increased efficiencies (44 percent), higher productivity (42 percent) and higher morale (38 percent).

In the Gallup study State of the Workplace, the researchers found that higher staff engagement led to improved customer engagement, productivity and profitability. Turnover and absenteeism rose in line with a lack of employee engagement.

It’s Not Rocket Science

When your new hire feels connected to their team, their manager, their role, and their new employer – before they’ve even started – they’re less likely to disappear into thin air. To keep your new hires engaged and excited, you gotta keep the conversation going with regular communication that immerses them in the company culture. Build on their initial emotional momentum and ensure they continue feeling valued and aligned with the business.

To find out more about how best-practice employee onboarding can help prevent your new hires from pulling a Houdini move, give us a call!

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