5 Reasons Your New Hires Won’t Last


They’re going to leave you.

I know. That’s a hard pill to swallow after all the time and money you’ve spent on marketing, recruitment, job fairs, and pens. (Yes, pens. Have you ever seen how many gazillions of branded pens are floating around at a job fair? It’s insane.)

But even after that, your new hires are going to leave you. (Yes, even after the pens.)

Most of us get a similar sinking feeling in our stomach when we think too much about that. It gives each of us headaches for any number and combination of reasons, but suffice it to say that turnover — especially so soon after folks start — takes a toll on teams, leaders, and organizations.

Often, organizations, managers, and/or executives are tempted to throw their collective hands up when folks leave the organization — especially when it’s within those folks’ first six months — and tell themselves that’s just par for the course.

Or — and HR folks, don’t quit reading after this paragraph — managers and execs might mutter something under their breath about HR/recruitment doing a less-than-stellar job getting “the right people” for the organization. And while it’s true that there isn’t a recruiter alive who’s not made a bad hire (I’ve worked in HR and recruitment for years myself before now seeing and working in it as part of the larger “culture” framework), I think it’s almost always far more complicated than that. (Speaking of bad hires, remind me to tell you about the time I was recruiting for a bilingual position and did a great job filling it. Unfortunately, it was with someone who spoke a different second language from the one for which I was supposed to have recruited. Awkward.)

So with those things said, what are some of the reasons organizations lose folks within those first six months?

1. Your organization’s identity and culture haven’t been clearly defined.

You may have core values in place, but they’re not meaningful behavioral or distinguishing values that help you build an identity and differentiate yourself from other organizations. Further, without that identity, people don’t know what they’re getting into when they apply. A unique and clear organizational identity does two things, both of which are great as it relates to hiring: 1) It attracts people who are interested in working for an organization with those values and with that environment, and 2) it discourages people from applying who aren’t attracted to those particular values and that sort of environment. In other words, it helps you with what we’ll discuss next: getting “the right people” who are “the right fit.”

[bctt tweet=”Without a clearly defined #companyculture, it’s nearly impossible to hire the right fit. #hr #recruiting”]

2. No one can actually describe with any specificity what “the right people” look like.

Now of course, I’m not talking about physical characteristics here. What I mean, though, is that often recruiters are given only the vagaries written in the job description to go on. The problem with that is that even if all the technical and operational skills and experience are described flawlessly by the hiring manager for the job description (and that’s not a given), that still makes it only somewhat more likely that you’ll get someone who has the technical skills to do the job.

3. Now, add to that the fact that when most managers say “the right people” or “the right fit,” they’re not usually referring to technical skills, and we’ve got ourselves a whole separate problem.

You see, often, when managers say something about not getting “the right people,” or someone “not being the right fit,” they’re making a reference to culture compatibility without really realizing it. And it’s not a bad thing, mind you, that they see and feel that. They’re probably right. The problem is that no one has actually defined what “the right people” and “the right fit” are beyond nebulous references to attitude or something along those lines. This, of course, is where a clearly articulated culture, complete with core values that have been integrated into the recruitment process and employment brand, is so crucial.

[bctt tweet=”Core behavioral values that differentiate your organization are key #recruiting tools. #hr”]

4. The job description doesn’t reflect the actual job.

Quick disclaimer: We all know that the reality of a job always includes things not delineated within a job description. Please don’t misread this and think I’m advocating for a Game-of-Thrones-book-length job description containing every conceivable thing that a team member could end up doing. But how cool would it be if you could get Peter Dinklage to show up at a job fair for you?

What’s important here is that the job description that gets put out there gives an accurate picture of what life’s going to be like for the person that ultimately gets the gig. Obviously, candidates will get a better picture as they go through the interview process, but an accurate job description is the first step.

*4.5 The job description doesn’t reflect the culture and identity of the organization. 

I’m sneaking this one in. Call it a bonus. But while we’re on the subject of job descriptions, most of them are just dreadful. They should reflect your organization’s culture and brand. If your organization’s culture is formal and stuffy, then the job description should read that way. (And most do.) But if your organization’s culture is, say, creative; then your job descriptions — yes, even your job descriptions — should reflect that creative vibe.

[bctt tweet=”Job descriptions should reflect an organization’s unique identity, #companyculture, and brand. #hr #recruiting”]

5. Applicants/candidates experience different and often contradictory micro-cultures throughout the hiring process and then again when they get to their team.

Think back to some of the jobs you’ve had, and more specifically, think about the process you went through and the people you interacted with throughout that process.

Typically, the first human applicants speak to is the recruiter. Well, a recruiter is generally going to be pretty good with people. They’re usually sociable, outgoing, cheerful, polite, and so on. Good recruiters are good connectors, and they know how to sell applicants on their organizations. After talking with a good recruiter, applicants will usually have a pretty rosy picture of an organization.

Then, and this will vary of course, there might be an interview with the hiring manager. Say, for example, we’re talking about a credit union (I love credit unions). So in that case, it would most likely be the branch manager sitting down for the interview. That interview will often have a different feel (especially without a well-defined culture, and a recruitment and interview process that’s been aligned with that culture). But, depending how much the manager likes the candidates, that interview can still have a very positive, we-want-you-to-come-here feel to it.

Assume for a moment that all goes well and our imaginary candidates get hired. Following that, they’re exposed to the next batch of people: the trainers. And again, depending how well-defined your culture is, and based on how integrated and operationalized it is, to our new hires, the training group can feel like yet another separate group with its own feel.

And then…this new hires land in their department. They look around, and it feels nothing like what they recall the recruiter describing during that initial conversation. It’s almost like our new hire got four different impressions of what the company was actually like based on the four different “micro-cultures” they were exposed to. That’s the sort of disconnect that can make someone bolt, especially if they liked what they heard at first (or second, or third). Since the spot they’ve landed is so different from that initial depiction, now they’re left not liking the reality of where they’ve landed.

But wait! There’s more! (You’ll just have to imagine me using my very best infomercial voice.) Tomorrow’s post will have five more reasons your new hires are going to bolt. See you then.

***On a different note, organizational culture, alignment, and integration is what I do, so if you’re interested in some formal help with any of these things, email me at matt@themojocompany.com. If you’re not ready for formal help, but would like to bounce ideas around, I’m game for that too. Same email address applies.


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