New hires jump ship? Here’s how to recognize risk, offer support

As companies continue to feel the impact of high turnover, it’s important to understand why employees are leaving – most especially why new hires jump ship quickly.

A recent Mercer study cites stress as a leading factor behind the Great Resignation. Adding to the worry now are very real concerns about a shaky economy as employees often leave when they feel financially insecure or vulnerable. They’re also more likely to take a job that has a higher salary even if it may not be the right opportunity. Relatedly, organizations have been stressed as they feel pressure to bring new employees on board, even if some hires are not completely suited for the job.

All of this upheaval is causing a great deal of job dissatisfaction as workers realize the grass isn’t always greener when they arrive at a new organization. A recent The Muse survey found 72% of those that moved organizations in Q4 ’21 and Q1 ‘22 admitted they were surprised that their new position or company was different from what they were led to believe during the interview process.

Much of the discussion around the topic is centered around employees and how they can address or even avoid these disappointing experiences. But, companies also play a role and should consider making changes to their recruitment practices, and looking at how they can adapt their culture to meet the needs of all employees, including new hires.

Growing pains with culture shifts

Companies have been competing for talent at an unprecedented level, while at the same time rethinking themselves, their work environments, and in general, their own employee/employer contracts. This includes where people can work, the percentage of time in the office, time off policies and more. The strict guidelines instituted during the pandemic have shifted to more relaxed protocols, and corporate guidance has changed as organizations redefine their norms.

While this transformation will likely result in a more supportive workplace down the road, the impact on recent hires right now is especially confusing. Taking a new role is always nerve-wracking, but doing so amid intense change can take a toll. And while industry leaders might perceive the recent accelerated hiring and demand as a positive sign, it’s also a reflection of the pressure organizations are feeling. And that pressure is often passed along to new employees, especially as many are being quickly deployed without the historical onboarding and safe landing opportunities. 

Keep recruiting real

One of the most effective ways to improve new hire satisfaction is to vastly improve the candidate experience. A streamlined process that centers on transparency and honest conversations is beneficial for both candidates and employers. Here are some considerations to keep in mind during the recruitment phase:

  • One of the best steps an organization can take while recruiting is to be honest about how the first few weeks will be organized, and the training that new hires will (or won’t) receive. This can give candidates greater confidence that their new employer is prepared to support them on the journey, rather than deploying them immediately into firefighting scenarios.
  • It’s important to present an accurate representation of the job, and not oversell to get people in the door. If it’s a lateral move for the employee, talk about different skills and experiences the company can help develop. Point out future career advancement opportunities in the organization. If those are limited, consider contributing to outside training or educational courses. Candidates who are attracted to a growth-oriented company, but not offered the right tools or provided with time and mentorship will quickly become disillusioned.
  • Provide expectations up front. Be specific about how many days employees are required to be in the office; the hours employees need to be available; how accessible they need to be to clients and colleagues off hours; and the company’s reporting structure and management styles. If there’s any flexibility to adjust these based on the employee’s needs, let them know. If not, be honest that these are the expectations and there’s no wiggle room.
  • Confirm collaboration and communication styles. A Gallup report found that 53% of workers expect to be hybrid while 24% plan to be fully remote, which means collaboration must evolve. Understanding the candidate’s style can help determine if they’ll fit in with the existing team. And knowing what collaboration tools they prefer will help managers and team members be better prepared when the new hire starts. A mismatched style can result in a disconnected and dissatisfied employee who struggles to communicate their frustrations.

Nurture new hires

It’s no surprise that stress leads to high turnover among new hires, and emerging talent is especially vulnerable. A recent survey showed that mental health struggles among younger generations have accelerated and worsened throughout the pandemic. For all employees, the following strategies can help workers feel safe, engaged and happy in their jobs:

  • New workers without established relationships in an organization may fixate on company stability. If it seems there are financial insecurities, the employee may seek a new position elsewhere that they perceive as more stable. It’s important to keep workers clued in on how the company is doing financially and its philosophy for letting people go should it come to that. Is it last in, first out? Or, are there other performance metrics taken into consideration? These might be hard conversations, but it’s better to have them than risk an employee being caught off guard with an abrupt layoff.
  • Technology has given workers more freedom and made them more productive. But there are negative consequences, including feeling like they can’t unplug, especially when they’ve just joined an organization. Leaders can help by consolidating platforms and encouraging all employees to periodically step away from their devices. When it comes to online conferencing, a recent Stanford study found that video chats can exhaust the mind and body. Simple steps like letting employees know they can turn off the video camera or move around during a call can help reduce fatigue.
  • Gartner found that 68% of employees whose work could be done remotely report that their employers have required them to return to the workplace in some capacity. If there’s the ability to offer hybrid or remote options, consider acting on it. This could ease stress for employees that have concerns around being in-person during rising COVID-19 cases. In addition, cutting down on commuting costs can help lower financial strain.
  • While data is helpful, the truth is that new hires share their general sentiment with people they trust, particularly if they were referred in. Getting a pulse from across your workforce is critical to help identify the challenges new hires might be experiencing whether related to stress, wellness, job satisfaction, training, workload, or other employment issues.
  • The importance of weekly one-on-one check-ins cannot be overemphasized. Due to the volume of work, client demands and lack of resources, many employees feel leaders have lost their cadence of meeting with new hires. This simple but critical human connection can help engage and retain new hires as well as long-tenured employees. It’s important that the conversation is not a “to do” list but a purposeful learning and mentoring conversation. Managers should use the opportunity to coach the employee, offer them a sense of stability, recognize their work and show that they value their personal growth goals.

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