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People are quitting jobs they just started. Here’s what managers can do

Over half of employees who joined new companies in the past six months are eyeing the exits, according to new data from Lattice.

People are quitting jobs they just started. Here’s what managers can do
[Photo: ONOKY – Fabrice LEROUGE/Getty Images]

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When you started your first job, someone probably advised you to stay in it for at least a few years. At the very least, it was critical to tough it out for a full year to really determine if it was a fit while avoiding the appearance of job-hopping.

When I began my career as a recruiter in the mid-2000s, one of the major screens we were taught to apply was a review of their job history and longevity at companies. On the flip side, once a great candidate joined a new company, I’d often set a reminder to check in nine or ten months later as they approached their one-year mark.

As companies focus on hiring and retention during the Great Reshuffling, it’s critical to recognize that, at least in the current environment, this approach no longer applies.

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In a survey Lattice conducted of 2,000 U.S. employees, over half of all employees who had been in their role for under six months reported that they were actively looking for something new (52% of those in their current seat for under three months and 59% who have been in their role for three to six months). 

So while many companies are already struggling to hire in such a highly competitive market, they are also at risk of losing many of their most recent joiners. Here’s how to retain them and even benefit from the trend by opening up a new talent pool.

Get onboarding right

The three-month mark is a common refrain among HR leaders. This is the point at which a new employee will either feel ingrained in their role and the company culture enough to stay—or they won’t. Even if you’ve already established an onboarding program, given the shift to hybrid work, now is the time to revisit it.

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New employees, who spent the past two years doing many things virtually, will expect a seamless and compelling experience, regardless of location. You need to go beyond the IT and HR checklist and connect them with the mission and values of the company through a mix of experiences. 

A good onboarding program should also support developing connections with other employees both within their team and cross-functionally. Spend time creating structured ways for new employees to meet—each other, their immediate team members, and other members of the organization they once may have gotten to know around the coffee maker. 

Managers are also central to onboarding success and your onboarding program should provide resources and guidance for setting early expectations, providing an onboarding buddy and identifying issues early. Perhaps the most important impact they can have is simply through building trust with new employees and opening up honest two-way communication. 

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Look closely at the data—and don’t jump to conclusions

Go beyond looking just at aggregate scores for engagement surveys or attrition and make sure that tenure is one of the key demographic cuts that you review. Bring in onboarding surveys, exit surveys, 90-day performance reviews, and attrition data as well to get a holistic view of how your new hires are doing and where they might be struggling. If you don’t have access to each of these data points, consider investing in building the process around them. 

The potential challenges are going to look different within each organization and solutions need to be relevant to the specifics. For one organization, maybe new remote engineers are showing more engagement concerns. In another company, it could be that there are challenges across departments with understanding what future growth at the company could look like. 

As you dig into potential concerns and plan actions, don’t forget recruiting data. If there are challenges with new employees succeeding, consider whether you are targeting the right profiles. If you find people leaving for “fit,” review whether you’ve been sufficiently assessing values alignment. As companies work so hard in this market to hire, some are inevitably moving forward with candidates they might not otherwise. Don’t let that be you.

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Tell an open and authentic story about your company and team

The old adage that interviews are a two-way street has never been more true in this age of employee empowerment. Candidates are choosing where to invest years of their careers, yet often are limited to a few minutes of rushed questions. After starting a new job, the moment of truth arrives and reality is often very different than advertised.

When the market is so competitive, it’s tempting to tell candidates what they want to hear in an attempt to close. It’s crucial to provide potential candidates with a realistic picture of what makes your organization unique. Just like a candidate can be an amazing person but not right for a particular company, the reverse is true too. 

Candidates need enough information that they can self-select in and yes, sometimes self-select out. Be intentional and thorough in building resources for candidates, so they can better determine whether or not your organizational values align with what they’re looking for. 

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Millions and millions of employees have joined new employers in the past six months and many are lukewarm about where they’ve arrived. This is a risk for companies, but one that can be addressed with focused people-forward strategies.

Beyond that, however, there’s an opportunity for agile companies to benefit by sourcing candidates specifically from this new hire group. Any risk for attrition in the Great Reshuffling is also an opportunity for your organization to benefit. 


Dave Carhart is the vice president of People at Lattice.

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