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Challenges in Onboarding: Why New Hires Consider Quitting Within 6 Months

The Shrinking Honeymoon Phase

In today’s professional landscape, the honeymoon phase of a new job is noticeably shorter. A recent report from Qualtrics reveals that a mere 38% of employees with less than six months of tenure at a company plan to remain for three years or more. For frontline workers, this percentage drops slightly to 34%.

Engagement Trends

The report highlights that 65% of new hires express a high level of engagement with their job, reflecting a 1% decline from the previous year. In contrast, 68% of longer-tenured employees report similar engagement levels. Meanwhile, 66% of new hires indicate feeling included at their organization, representing a 4% decrease from the prior year, compared to 73% of all other employees.

The Shift in Employee Experience

Historically, the employee experience resembled a U-shaped curve, with both new and long-tenured employees reporting more positive experiences and higher engagement than their counterparts. However, this year has marked a significant departure from this norm, as observed by Qualtrics’ chief workplace psychologist, Benjamin Granger. Instead of a U-shaped relationship, there’s now more of a hockey stick trend, where new hires’ attitudes lag behind the overall average—an unprecedented shift.

Possible Explanations

Granger and his team have not conclusively identified the reasons behind this accelerated disillusionment among new employees. Nevertheless, they propose two primary hypotheses that may offer insight into this trend.

  1. Salary vs. Role Satisfaction: As employers increased salaries to compete with market rates, new hires accepted roles that offered higher pay and more attractive benefits. However, they often found themselves dissatisfied with the actual job responsibilities associated with the salary.
  2. Onboarding Neglect: Organizations appear to invest significantly less time and effort in onboarding compared to talent recruitment. According to a separate Qualtrics survey of HR executives, only 41% consider onboarding a top priority, whereas 50% prioritize talent attraction and hiring.

Reinforcing the Trend

Supporting evidence from Korn Ferry underscores these concerns. Employees who depart within the initial six to twelve months of their employment often cite reasons such as a misalignment with the company’s culture or mission, a lack of understanding about their impact, and a disconnect between the promised and actual job responsibilities.

Unifying Recruitment and Onboarding

It is vital for HR and talent management teams to treat the hiring and onboarding processes as interconnected experiences. The red-carpet treatment that candidates receive during recruitment should seamlessly transition into their employee journey. Managers must also acquaint themselves with the organization’s onboarding procedures.

Benjamin Granger emphasizes, “A simple starting point is ensuring that the teams responsible for new hire onboarding, particularly for high-volume roles, align the messaging that new employees hear before they even apply.”

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