If you recently started a job and you’re already thinking about leaving, you’re not alone. According to a survey by BambooHR, a human resources software company, 31 percent of new hires quit within the first six months of being on-boarded.
The top three reasons that employees bailed out:
- They didn’t want to do the job
- The work didn’t match the job description
- They didn’t like the boss
Hiring is a complex endeavor for both candidate and employer. While some attrition is normal in any corporation, it may be in your best interest to try to turn things around before you give notice.
Consider the Cons
“I actually had someone quit on HipChat a few hours after they showed up,” said Vip Sandhir, founder and CEO of HighGround, an employee engagement software solutions provider.
Sandhir says the hire, a gifted product engineer, lived more than two hours from the office. During the interview process, the team asked about the distance, but the engineer reassured everyone that it wasn’t an issue. On the first day, however, the new hire instant-messaged the group: “Hey guys, this is not going to work for me. I appreciate everything. Thanks.”
After the employee left, Sandhir said, “I called him because I had to understand what happened… and he told me the commute was crappy and he didn’t want to do it.”
While the HipChat quitter isn’t an extreme example of not thinking through a job’s more negative aspects, nobody knows how they’ll feel about a job until they’re in it. If you’re aiming for a successful first six months in the position, carefully weigh any drawbacks before signing a contract. Don’t minimize your concerns: If you avoid addressing them, they may take on a life of their own once you’re actually working.
Use Your Words
Marc Fischer, founder and CEO of Dogtown Media, a mobile app developer in Los Angeles, found himself confused when a new hire quit—and wouldn’t tell him why. “He was really talented,” Fischer said. “He interned and I brought him on full time. Then he came to me and said he had to go.”
Although Fischer prodded, the employee still couldn’t articulate his reasons for leaving. It was particularly frustrating because Fischer invests a lot of time recruiting and training talent. “When I don’t get clear feedback from someone, I start thinking it must be my fault,” he said. “And if I don’t have a good exit interview, then I can’t course-correct for the future.”
In order to increase retention of good hires, both Sandhir and Fischer eschew more traditional strategies for onboarding and evaluating new employees. They make sure candidates understand the scope and expectations of their roles, and encourage open communication by checking in with new hires at 30-, 60-, and 90-day intervals.
While these CEOs are proactive, it’s still incumbent upon employees to be candid about their experiences on the job. “At some point in your career, you have to be able to have an adult conversation about how you feel,” Sandhir said. “I’ve had conversations with employees and a lot of times it’s politics or coworkers, sometimes it’s the work. You have to listen because you want that person to stay and be productive.”
Speaking up is often the path to getting what you want. Fischer cites a developer who asked point-blank for a raise to match market value. “It hurts from a financial standpoint to bump up his salary that much, but it makes perfect sense because I want to retain him,” Fischer said. “He’s that good and I want to reward him for adding value.”
Better Off Gone
On the other hand, sometimes leaving is for the best. Sandhir had a senior-level hire quit after four weeks. The reason: her former employer offered her a founder position after receiving an influx of cash from an angel investor. Sandhir could only offer congratulations.
It’s also possible that you’ll find yourself in a situation that is simply a very poor fit. As a mentor once advised Fischer, if someone wants to quit, they’re going to be gone before they even give notice—and if they stay, they can’t be counted on. If it’s really not working out, your lack of commitment will be evident and no one will be getting what they need or want. If that’s the case, there’s no shame in leaving quickly; it’s likely your smartest option.