Managers: You have 18 months to engage your new hire before they get itchy feet

January 27, 2023, 11:26 AM UTC
It may seem like only yesterday that your new hire joined the team. But just a year and a half into the role, they are probably eyeing up pastures new, according to new research.
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After months of onboarding a new hire, integrating them into the company, and training them to be an essential cog in your team, no manager wants to go through the pain of finding their replacement.

Fortunately, we can now pinpoint the exact moment that workers go from feeling elated about their new job to having reality hit hard. 

Research has revealed it takes new hires just a year and a half to suss out exactly what their job entails—and decide that it’s not for them, after all. 

The global recruitment firm Michael Page commissioned a study that asked 5,000 employed adults when they start to think about new pastures and found that 18 months into a role is the average.

What causes your workers to go from that new job buzz to getting itchy feet? Not being valued for their contributions, deteriorating work conditions, and expectations not meeting reality are among the top reasons.

“Once the honeymoon period of a new job is over, it’s possible that you realize it wasn’t quite the right fit for you all along. When these thoughts start to manifest, it is only a matter of time before something has to give,” said Michael Page’s UK&I managing director, Doug Rode. 

“There is nothing worse than being miserable in your job, so unhappy workers should address any concerns with their employer and attempt to find a solution,” he added.

These are the top 10 reasons your workers are thinking of leaving, according to the study.

  1. I didn’t think I was being valued for my contribution
  2. I felt like I was being underpaid
  3. The working conditions had started to deteriorate
  4. I found the work too stressful
  5. It wasn’t quite like how I expected when I accepted the job
  6. I wanted to peruse different opportunities
  7. I was working too many hours
  8. I felt like I had hit a ceiling with how far I could progress
  9. I didn’t agree with changes being made from the top
  10. The work was no longer challenging

The study went on to find that one in five workers started to feel job doubt when finding themselves working more hours than they had anticipated. Meanwhile, an additional 19% are disgruntled that they didn’t see a pay rise after their first 12 months. 

Once workers started to feel frustrated with their employer, they ramped up their job search. The research shows that new hires allowed these feelings to bubble for up to four months before applying for new roles and that it took just three more months to land one. 

And according to the study, 22% of employees are already planning on ditching their jobs within the first half of this year.

How managers can retain workers after the 18-month mark

The study also offered some insight into what makes the grass greener on the other side.

Many of the respondents are looking for a company that empowers them to have a good work-life balance with 52% wanting a minimum of 28 days leave and 43% wanting progressive hybrid, flexible and remote working policies. Meanwhile, 46% want a competitive company pension contribution and 27% want good parental or family leave policies.

Plus, a well-designed and equipped office environment wouldn’t go amiss for almost a third of the respondents. 

But if overhauling the office’s design and policies isn’t possible, Rode promises that there are a few tangible things that managers can do right now to retain workers after that 18-month mark.

“Provide training and development opportunities, including accreditations and certifications which will help your people progress in their careers,” he says.

By getting to know your workers better, you can get a clear sense of the areas they want to progress in and which stretch opportunities might excite them. 

“Offer a clear progression roadmap to motivate them, and a personal development plan to give them clear, positive actions,” he adds.

And if they are going above and beyond, taking on extra work or developing their skills to be better at their job, be sure to highlight and praise it. 

 “Even the most dedicated and self-motivated employees will feel discouraged if the only feedback they receive is negative. Similarly, praise and positive feedback will give uninspired employees a second wind,” Rode stresses.

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