Did you know that an employee often decides to stay (or not) within their first 30-90 days on the job? There’s also a statistic that 33% of employees know within the first week if they will stay with the new job long term. What if I told you, it’s possible to get a head start on retaining a candidate before they even arrive on day one? Here I’ll offer three simple actions you can take before you onboard your new hire.

This month we’ve been talking about retention. We’ve talked about strategies managers can lengthen an employee’s time at the agency simply through planning. We’ve also talked about how employees can find opportunities in their current job to prepare for the next one. Today, we talk about actions you can take as a manager or an HR department to retain a new hire before they arrive.

Here’s three strategies you can use to retain new hires before they onboard.

The job interview

During the interview most hiring managers focus on deciding who to hire. The candidate, however, is also making a decision about whether they want to work in that agency. They are looking for signs of what it would be like to work at your agency. Simple things can be signs of the agency’s culture like: how they are treated, whether the interviewer seems prepared, or how the interviewers interact with each other.

The questions you ask also provide insight into what the job will be like. For myself, I can often pick up on issues within the team based on the questions asked. Specifically, when the interviewers ask multiple questions around the same topic.

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Regardless of who is ultimately hired, how you interact with the candidates can impact how they feel about your agency.  Assuming they accept your job offer, this seemingly unimportant aspect of the retention process can impact their engagement before they arrive.

A follow up email

Anyone involved in hiring knows that the competition for the best candidate is intense right now. Many times the best candidate is hired somewhere else before an offer is extended. Yet, a simple follow-up after the interview can increase your chances of the best candidate accepting your offer. And it increases the likelihood that they will stay longer after they onboard.

Most interview advice is about the importance of the candidate following up with a thank you note. Seldom, however, is there mention of a follow up email from the interviewer. The email could thank the candidate for their time and to offer to answer any other follow up questions. Most candidates never hear from the interviewer again if they are not selected. This simple gesture will have a huge impact on the candidate’s view of your agency.

I’ve also heard a hiring manager inviting a candidate to an event being hosted on property. It’s an annual event that is both informative and fun. I don’t know if the candidate accepted the invitation. But I imagine they were flattered to have been invited. And, that they knew how much the hiring manager really wanted them to accept the offer.

A buddy call

Although taking a new job holds the excitement of new opportunities, it can also be a little stressful for a soon-to-be new hire. As the start date looms closer, they may wonder: Did I make the right decision? Will I like my new coworkers? Am I going to regret leaving what I already know?

A simple way to reduce their worries before they onboard is to reassure them. Many agencies have begun using Buddy Programs to welcome new hires after orientation. These buddies act as a point of contact to answer questions and be a friendly face for the next few days/weeks after they arrive. The Buddy Programs, however, seldom include a call to the new hire before they onboard. This simple gesture of a call by the buddy can make all the difference for that new hire. This call is simply to introduce themselves and let them know they are looking forward to meeting them. From the new-hire’s perspective, it sends the message they are welcome. It also sends the message that you are just as excited as they are about their arrival.

In all of my years of experience working in government, I’ve received this call once. I was already excited about the job. But, it did mean relocating. After receiving that call, any hesitations I had about moving to a new city and a new job vanished.

In short, three simple actions any agency can take to retain new hires before they arrive. And, if there’s one thing you should remember is that it is easier to keep someone engaged than to get turn around a disengaged employee.

For more information about how to retain an employee, check out our post on how managers can retain employees by keeping them focused on the future.