Arrest candidate dropouts post Offer acceptance. Seriously?

By cielhrtech | September 16, 2016

That Candidate who had cleared multiple rounds negotiated hard for offer corrections and accepted to join didn’t turn up on the D-Day, citing a flimsy unfathomable reason- dubbed personal exigency. Congratulations, we have just travelled back in time by 3 Months. Drop-outs post offer acceptance is arguably the most hated Dejavu in Talent Acquisition today.
I guess candidates are accident prone towards date of joining a new firm and so are their relatives. Even in these advanced ages of communication- lo and behold, they suddenly disappear from face of earth and remain inaccessible.  We are not discussing a pattern seen among junior candidates with 0-12 Months work experience. We are also discussing here, Sickness Prone/Accident Prone professionals with 10+ years of rich Industry experience. There is also an interesting class of fickle minded professionals who decide last minute against taking up a new role, as their spouse/parents/kids/relatives or friends advised them not to- isn’t that cute.  These so called Professionals were, are and would continue to remain responsible for losses incurred by multiple organizations, due to time lost in restarting the Talent Acquisition process from scratch and thereby leaving the position vacant for an unplanned/longer duration.  This trend is rampant in the Indian Job Market now and we don’t seem to be rattled about it. Another dimension of tolerance, I guess.
Industry experts opine that the candidate dropout rates amplified before half a decade or so, when people were still looking at economic slowdown with shock and disbelief, much before we became insulated to it. This was driven by the belief/disbelief that firms often choose LIFO approach when they decide to axe manpower and issue pink slips- fondly called the Right Sizing to give a touch of optimism to the not so user friendly word- Downsizing. However today, there exists a major set of Unprofessional Professionals who picks and accepts an offer only with a hope of increasing/correcting the Salary elsewhere. This is a lesser vice compared to that of leaving the prospective employer hanging till planned date of joining and then giving them a tragic story of what conditions led to their inability to join on time.
I have been into Talent Acquisition alone for more than a decade and my ability to arrest Drop outs/ No Shows is the only area, which had not seen any incremental improvement. Organizations follow multiple approaches to ensure that the dropout rates are reduced which helps to an extent

  • Common Practices: Playing Softball-  Firms/Consultants follow multiple steps, right from sourcing stage till the date of joining of candidates, to reduce dropouts and also to watch the tell-tale signs closely for dropout potential if any. While scouting for talent, expert consultant’s looks for creating interest and thereby create pull factors in candidates mind other than doing an In-Depth evaluation to understand the real reason behind planned change. For instance if a candidate is considering a new job, for the want of a better salary, its evident that he/she can be easily retained by current firm. Similarly, gauging candidate attitude, interest levels, response pattern/time etc also become critical to decide whether he/she is the one to be processed for the role. When a candidate gets selected/offered, understanding CTC Expectation mismatches if any, getting commitment on Date of Joining the new organization, obtaining a copy of resignation mail acceptance and being in touch through various modes of communication, meeting F2F etc will all help. We have in market candidates serving 30-90 days notice and multiple options come into play during this time period. Current firm may retain them by matching salary/giving promotion or both, other employment opportunities may knock the door or going by today’s trend, the guy next door will set up a startup firm powered by one killer app and funded by VCs- thereby elevating this good neighbor candidate with sparkling eyes to a co-founder, managing something.  While the candidates serve notice, few smart consultants approach them indirectly with other opportunities to gauge response. Its very important that TA Specialists/Consultants win the trust of candidates and ensure that they are empathetic to candidates cause, given the career shift he/she is making. Less than genuine interactions will only be counter-productive and candidates can see through it when some aggressive TA person is being very transactional with them
  • Gamification- Age of Tech- Gamification by definition is the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. The technique can encourage people to perform boring chores such as completing surveys, shopping, filling out tax forms or reading websites etc. Few organizations successfully blends this with Recruitment and simulate work to see how long the prospective candidates engage in the simulation. This also helps in evaluating outcome of participation to gain insights about candidate skills, abilities, inclination etc. If a candidate does not participate fully in the process, it is considered as a sign that he may drop out. Mid 2015, Uber US released a Mobile Game to recruit drivers simulating ‘a day in the life of Uber Driver’. Developed initially on actual San Francisco map, the game rewarded participants with game money simulating actual earnings for a safe and fast, Point A to Point B passenger transportation. Add to it the impressive banner “like driving? Get paid for it”, attracted loads of users and resulted in Recruitment of many drivers. Back home in India, Prithvi Shergill, CHRO, HCL Technologies was among Leaders who had spoken on effectiveness of Gamification. It is considered as a useful tool to keep candidates engaged in the time between accepting a job offer and joining. Mr. Shergill had mentioned in 2014 that through gamification “If you can work out the characteristics of the people who are most likely to make it to the start date and the reason others drop out, this is where you can make savings.” Feasibility of the approach based on role, numbers to be on-boarded, nature of job etc is a call to be taken by firms. There are however, reasons to believe that Gamification could be the next big thing in our hunt for the best Talent.
  • Sue them- Rule of Law- What if every offer letter rolled out has a penalty clause in it? This should kick off in case candidate drops out without notice or by giving minimal notice, post offer acceptance. Does this sound absurd? I have come across a Manufacturing major successfully implementing this practice. There are law breakers in India from all walks of life. This could be anything from jumping signals, over-speeding, drunk & drive to tax evasions, hoarding, software piracy, corruption, thievery etc. If it was not due to the fear factor linked to Legal system and the resultant ridicule, all these vices would have been more rampant and may have become way of life of a group of people including many more from current bunch of rare legit beings. Will the earlier mentioned clause make candidates think twice before accepting offer? I guess yes, as someone genuinely interested in the role would only agree to take this risk. Will this reduce Offer Acceptances- may be, but that should be fine. There have been extensive debates on this topic, with HR practitioners debating possibility and impossibility of Legal actions against candidate in case of dropout post offer acceptance. Going by Legal terms an accepted unequivocal offer binds both parties and any of them can take action if deviations are made. I am not talking here a foolproof method, which will force a candidate to honor the commitment. The intent is to penalize the unprofessional candidates and hold them liable to pay 5-10% of ACTC offered towards damages incurred by firm, in case they make last minute changes. Unsure whether this will create an impact, however it’s definitely worth trying and trying hard. No harm in cracking a whip on few if the impact is positive and results are long term.

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