More New Hires Are Ghosting Before Their Start Date. Here’s How To Prevent That.

Some Recommendations For Startup CEOs to Help Make Sure Your Team Member Actually Shows Up

Most hiring processes start with an antiquated assumption that companies select people to work for them. In the world of technology startups we know that it’s usually the other way around: the best talent have plenty of optionality and the question is, how do you get *them* to choose you?

More recently though I’ve seen that signing an offer letter doesn’t always mean that person shows up on Day One. Counter offers and occasional ‘buyer’s regret’ have always been an issue, but a number of circumstances (including the shift to remote work) have anecdotally increased the renegs and no shows. As the Wall Street Journal reports maybe some of it is a byproduct of tight labor markets,

“The rise in no-shows “could be just an expression of job seekers having a lot more confidence in their ability to find a job,” said Nick Bunker, an economist at the job-search platform Indeed.”

Or from the same article, perhaps it’s a change in cultural norms.

“We have a generation of professionals who grew up on dating apps, where ghosting has been accepted as an annoying, but common, phenomenon,” he [Keith Wolf, a managing director, Murray Resources] said. “I believe that is leaking into the professional world.”

Regardless it’s become more common if not the new normal. So what are some ways that early stage startups can reduce the odds of a newly signed team member becoming regretted attrition before they’ve even signed into their corporate email? Here are a few tips we’ve been giving portfolio founders:

  1. Limit the Time Between The Offer and Start Date

Anything longer than a few weeks and chances of something going wrong start to increase. Obviously people often need to give notice and wind down the obligations. And sometimes they might seek a break or have a vacation already planned. But really press to get a start date on the calendar sooner, even if it’s just a week of listening/onboarding before they disappear for a two week trip.

And if there’s a reason that they need to start 2+ months down the road, consider making them an employee sooner. Get them on your benefits, start vesting their stock and so on. Treat them as a team member who just isn’t there quite yet versus someone who hasn’t yet started.

2. Involve Their Family/Partners

Don’t just onboard them, onboard their social circle. If it’s a family, set up a dinner for them (delivered to their home, out at a local restaurant, whatever they prefer) to celebrate the new job together. Send company swag to give to family and friends. Record videos from team members welcoming them. Basically help everyone get excited about the change. In a ‘normal’ office environment, you’d be inviting them to happy hours, etc. Recreate that virtually as needed.

3. Introduce Them To Your Investors/Advisors

Hopefully you have some wonderful investors and/or advisors involved with the company. Giving them the chance to also welcome the new hire to the company with brief notes of introduction and let the new team member know they matter and will be supported broadly. Does this also create some pressure because if you choose to not show up there’s a bunch of industry folks who know? Sure, but this isn’t only about creating pressure, that’ll always backfire. It’s about keeping morale high and momentum going.

So these are three relatively simple strategies to execute that I don’t see everyone doing. They don’t require an incredible amount of resources or even a full HR/PeopleOps team to execute. If you’ve got other strategies to help prevent new hire ghosting, reply here or tweet at me.