During my first entrepreneurial hiring experience, something funny happened. That summer, we hired eight consecutive people for a single job, and on seven of those occasions, the individual we hired never showed up for their first day of work.

This phenomenon -- when candidates that are hired don't show up -- is called "ghosting." Not only do these new hires never show up, they often go completely incommunicado, as was the case with our great picks.

My hiring troubles that summer became so comical that my business partner and I would each keep a gym bag of clothes at the office, knowing that one of us would likely be needed to fill in for the ghosting employee.

Ghosting can create a number of painful and expensive problems for entrepreneurs. The hiring process is (or at least should be) long and time-consuming, as candidate screening, interviewing and background checking are all necessary to find the right person. The more you have to engage in this process, the more it drains the budget (and willpower).

And while you will never eliminate ghosting, you can take a few measures to reduce the chances that it happens to you.

Make your company look credible.

The chances are the candidate you hired still has a few "lines in the water" and is weighing different options -- all the way up to their first day. Candidates, after all, like businesses, want the best alternative, so they will be looking for companies that offer the most value and opportunities.

A few ways you can create credibility is to take proactive steps to onboard the employee as soon as he or she is hired. For instance:

  • Introduce them to the team immediately as a new employee.

  • Pair the new hires with an existing employee who will serve as a mentor, be available to answer questions, and be the new hire's cheerleader.

  • Announce the new hire publicly by posting visible notes and sending a digital notice to all employees.

It is important to make sure the new hire knows this is all happening, which will build and encourage buy-in. New candidates are less likely to skip that first day if they already feel like part of the team.

Remain transparent and honest. 

Communicate regularly with the new candidate, even (and especially) after they have accepted an offer. Some things you can do include:

  • Instruct the mentor to connect regularly with the candidate and offer assistance with the transition.

  • Be honest with the new hire and emphasize the costs and negative impacts a "no show" can have on the company.

  • Develop and provide to the new hire a handbook that can be reviewed prior to starting.

Make the first day great.

Lastly, let the candidate know what is going to happen on the first day of work, maintaining a high level of excitement and enthusiasm. And if you do not have a plan, here are a few tips.

  • Day one orientation: Write off the first day as an orientation. Provide the new hire with an experienced employee who will spend the day giving tours, making introductions, and helping them get oriented.

  • Day one celebration: With members of the company or team, make the morning fun and inspiring by literally having a celebration on behalf of the new hire.

  • Day one supplies: Make sure everything the employee needs to get a good start is provided, such as office supplies, business cards, name tag (if applicable), company attire and swag, a working computer, and so on.

In the end, make the new hire understand the importance of this first day in marking the occasion. More important, give the new candidate this information as soon as you can -- even prior to the first day if possible. The longer they have to think about all the planning and trouble that has gone into hiring them, the less likely they will avoid coming altogether.

Even with all of these tips, you will still have people who ghost. By adhering to these tips, however, you can at least reduce the chances of that happening -- at least fewer times than our first hiring nightmare.

What do you think? What other ways have you reduced ghosting? Please share your thoughts with me at Facebook.

Published on: Apr 29, 2019
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.