Here’s Why Your New Employees Quit – and What You Can Do to Keep Them

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There’s possibly nothing more frustrating than spending weeks and sometimes months recruiting for a role, only to have your new hire leave shortly after starting. But, unfortunately, this is a reality for many Australian businesses, especially when 40%1 of new employees quit within six months of starting.

Having a newly recruited employee leave in the first few months of their employment can be disruptive in many ways. Not only does it increase the costs and time of recruiting, onboarding and training a new person for the role, but it can also negatively impact the productivity and morale of others at the company. And when many of your new employees start quitting so soon after starting, it can even affect how job seekers view your organisation, i.e. your employer brand.

To start building a strategy to retain your new hires, first, it’s important to understand what motivates them to want to leave in the first place.

Top reasons why your new employees quit so soon

Chart outlining reasons employees left their jobs (from lowest to highest)

Career changes: Change in working hours or conditions; trouble with boss; change in responsibilities at work; change in a different line of work; retirement; dismissal from work Other life changes: changes in residence; child leaving home; foreclosure of mortgage or loan; pregnancy; marriage; death of a close family member

Believe it or not, most job seekers don’t start a new job with the intention of leaving only a few months later. In fact, with the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory citing career events as having the biggest impact on stress and happiness after family and health events, it’s safe to say that the reasons why most of your new employees quit so soon into their new jobs are reasonable.

Chart of reasons new hires who left their jobs within the first six months of hire

New hires who left their job within the first six months said the following would have helped them stay in their jobs (highest to lowest): receiving clear guidelines to what my responsibilities are; More effective training; A friendly smile or helpful co-worker would have made all the difference;To be recognized for (their) unique contribution; More attention from the managers and co-workers

According to research conducted by bambooHR, many of the reasons why new employees quit within their first six months are because they went through an incomplete onboarding process. For example, 23% of new hires said if they had received clear guidelines as to what their responsibilities were it would have helped them stay in their new role. Other factors that would’ve encouraged new hires to stay was more effective training (21%), a friendly smile or helpful coworker (17%), recognition for their unique contributions (12%) and more attention from managers and coworkers (9%).

What you can do to retain your new hires

Fortunately, many of the reasons why most new employees quit so soon after starting can be easily addressed. Whether your organisation has a problem with employee turnover, or you’re simply looking to improve the onboarding process for your new hires, here are three tips you can start implementing today to help retain new employees past the first few months.

1. Be clear about what the role will entail from the very beginning

With the number one complaint from new hires who left their role in the first six months being that they didn’t receive clear guidelines around their responsibilities, it’s crucial to be transparent about what the role will entail from the very beginning of the recruiting process. So during the interview stage, give candidates an accurate representation of what the role will be like to avoid any disappointment or confusion when they start.

When new hires do start, make sure their manager sits down with them to explain what their responsibilities and day-to-day duties will look like. It is also beneficial for managers to create a two-week plan that focuses on bringing their new employee up to speed on things like internal terminology, important systems and tools they will need to effectively do their job, and other teams within the organisation they will be working closely with.

If the new employee is hired to fill in for someone who is leaving the company, try to plan their start date a week or two before the current employee leaves. This will give them a chance to be trained by someone who has actually been in the role.

2. Implement a buddy system

78% of employees spend more time with coworkers than they do with their family

While many new employees quit because they didn’t receive clear guidelines about their role, a great deal also leave because they lacked friendly coworkers. With 78% of employees spending more time with their coworkers than they do with their family, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the kind of relationship employees have with each other can be a deciding factor to stay or leave a job.

As a result, to help retain your new hires, consider implementing a “buddy system”. This can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety many new hires face when trying to figure out the social dynamic of a new workplace, while also helping to integrate them better into their role, team and the overall company culture.

3. Ensure managers are regularly checking in with new hires

Once a new hire has been in their role for a few weeks, it’s easy to think the hard part is over. After all, they have had their training, a buddy to rely on and probably a routine in place— your work is done right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, especially when 40%1 of new employees quit in their first six months. As a result, it’s important to set up regular checkpoints with new hires throughout their first few months to ensure they are fitting in well and don’t have any major concerns or questions.

If their manager doesn’t already have weekly or biweekly one-on-ones set up with your new hire, ask them to put something in the calendar. Almost 1 out of 10 new employees cited not having enough attention from their managers as the reason for leaving their job, so scheduling time in for new employees to interact and catch up with their manager can go a long way to helping retain them.

While it may seem like onboarding a new employee stops when they show up for their first day, in reality, it extends through to their tenure at the company. After all, whether your new employees quit after a few months, or after a few years, any kind of employee turnover is disruptive to the organisation and team. So take these steps to ensure you are supporting and retaining new hires as they develop and grow at the company.

1Methodology: This research was conducted by Lucid on behalf of Indeed among 1,000 Australian job seekers in 2019.

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