Image of our Wheel of HR Services, with a focus on Employee Relations.

Top 3 Reasons Why New Hires Leave… And How to Turn Around Your Turnover!

Last Updated on March 9, 2022 / Employee Relations, Recruitment

Image of New Hires Leaving Jobs with lines drawn between them like pinpoints on a map

HR Question:

We’re struggling with high turnover, and what’s particularly frustrating is to see so many new hires leave. What can we do to retain our new hires?

HR Answer:

We have endured a pandemic and in its wake, US employers are experiencing record-high turnover rates resulting from the “great resignation.” It sounds like your business is in the thick of navigating through this. Like many others, you are probably spending more time and money recruiting, onboarding, and training employees, only to see new hires leave sooner and sooner. It is estimated that 20-40% of new hires leave in their first 90 days. This leaves many employers scratching their heads asking, “Why can’t we keep our new employees?”

When a new hire leaves a position early in their employment, it is typically for one of three reasons:

  1. The job did not turn out to be what they expected
  2. They do not feel a part of the team
  3. The business down the street offered more money

I’ll discuss each of these turnover reasons below and share specific actions you can take to address these issues.

What to do if your new hires leave

When you experience turnover, your first step should be to find out why your employees are leaving. Have HR or someone other than the direct supervisor take a few minutes to reach out and talk to the departing employee. Most people want to express their frustrations, and you can learn a great deal by asking a few prompting questions followed by listening carefully. If an employee left without warning, text them and ask for a brief response with no pressure to provide more than a reason.

When the job is NOT what the employee expected…

Candidates are not typically good interviewers. When coaching people in their career search, I always remind them that they are responsible for interviewing the company as thoroughly as the company is interviewing them. They should have a list of questions for the interviewers that help them evaluate the organization’s culture, work environment, leadership, development, and advancement opportunities. But most importantly, they have to get a clear picture of the job duties to determine if they will enjoy them and have what it takes to be successful in the role. Many candidates are just so nervous they don’t take the time to do their own investigating which can result in new hires leaving.

So what can you do? Help your candidates by filling in these blanks during the interview. Continue to note whether the candidate has questions or has done any research on the company (this says something about the candidates’ preparedness), provide a copy of the job description, and give them a company tour, but go above and beyond this.

Paint a realistic picture of the job and the company for candidates by:

  • Job Shadowing – Have candidates spend time following an employee doing the same/similar job, so they can see first-hand what the job entails.
  • Walking the Job – Walk through the job site with the candidate. Have them talk through what they see, what they would do in this situation, what resources they need, and what questions they have.
  • Providing a Job/Company Presentation – Create a presentation for job candidates with videos of the jobs being performed (or borrow one of the hundreds provided by the Department of Labor’s Careeronestop page) along with pictures of the work environment, your culture, organization structure, compensation programs and benefits, etc. You can use this with groups of candidates when you are hiring multiple people for similar roles.
  • Including Multiple Employees in Interviews – Allow the candidates to speak to multiple employees, including the direct supervisor, members of the team, and another person doing the same/similar job. These company representatives should have prepared information to share about the job and company and be ready to answer candidate questions.

Painting a clear picture of the job will help some candidates self-select out of the applicant pool, but that is what you want. Then you are left with the candidates who have a realistic picture of the job and your organization who WANT to work for you.

When the New Hire Doesn’t Feel Part of the Team…

Think about a time when you walked into a room with a group of people and had a hard time connecting with anyone there. You probably felt like an outsider and wanted to leave the group. This happens more than we want to admit, especially in a new job. When you do not feel “a part” of something, it is very easy to walk away, assuming no one will notice or care when you’re gone. So, it’s not surprising that new hires leave when they don’t feel connected.

Build new employees’ connections with:

  • Daily Check-ins (or at each scheduled shift) – Ask a simple question about their day, a current project, their weekend, technology, who they have met, or what help they need to do their work that day. It doesn’t have to be more than five minutes, but just connecting reminds them that you know they are there. And it doesn’t hurt to tell them that you are glad they are there!
  • Team Mentor/Buddy –  Some organizations use a formal buddy or mentor program, which is very beneficial. If your organization is too small for a formal program, do it informally. Just ask another person to reach out to the new hire at least weekly for the first three months. This person can invite the new hire to join their group for lunch or answer questions that the new employee may not feel comfortable asking their supervisor.
  • Plan for Virtual Employees – Don’t forget your virtual employees, as this can be the most challenging group to keep connected. For some creative ideas, check out this article from Scavify.

When a Competitor Offers More Money…

Budgets will be stretched this year as rising compensation and inflation are big challenges employers are facing. Money is being thrown at applicants in the form of higher hourly rates and salaries, signing bonuses, retention bonuses, performance bonuses, etc. This results in employees jumping (or being recruited) from one employer to the next to get a quick bump in pay. It is easy for competitors to entice new hires to leave when they are not happy with or feel disconnected from the job or the company culture from the start.

Address employee compensation by:

  • Assessing the Market – Learn what current pay rates are for jobs in your industry and location and compensate your employees fairly. If you don’t have the time or expertise to collect and analyze the data, you can reach out to an external compensation & benefits expert to assist in providing benchmark compensation reports for comparison.
  • Offering Competitive Pay That Can be Maintained –  Ensure that higher pay rates/bonuses for new employees DO NOT:
    • Put such a strain on the budget that you will not be able to continue paying that rate or cause you to hire fewer workers than needed therefore making existing employees’ jobs even harder; and/or
    • Create pay inequities with existing staff to cause them to walk away.
  • Showcasing Internal Career Paths – Show new employees what their job will look like in six months, a year, two years, and how their compensation will increase so they have something to work toward.
  • Communicating Your Value – Your recruiting strategy must include the intrinsic value your organization offers (benefits, culture, career path) going beyond compensation. This is the time to develop a Total Compensation Statement if you don’t already have one, and then live up to the hype of what makes your organization great. Check out these fun recruiting videos shared by Builtin to see how they share their messages.

While we will likely continue to see high turnover in the coming year according to economists, there are strategies your organization can take to retain your employees, especially your newest and most vulnerable new hires. A little extra time and money spent in doing these things will save an exorbitant amount spent in turnover.

Thank you to Lorrie Diaz, Senior HR Business Advisor with the Strategic HR Business Advisors team, for contributing to this HR Question of the Week.

If your organization is struggling with high turnover, Strategic HR can help you to understand what’s going wrong and identify the necessary steps to increase employee engagement and retention. Contact Us to turn around your turnover!