How to avoid losing new employees in the first 6 months

Recruiting the best people takes time, money and effort, but it pays off in the long run through the value they bring to your business.

That’s why developing a strong retention strategy is vital to avoid losing your new recruits within a matter of months. Here are 5 tactics to encourage a longer-term commitment from new employees.

  1. Provide a realistic job preview
    The first day of a new job can be overwhelming, especially when it’s not what you were expecting. Alison McLeod, Oceania Recruitment Director at EY, says if the job description and work culture don’t match the reality, employees will start planning their exit.

    “I remember sitting in on a job interview where a previous employer told the candidate things about the work-life balance at the company and training commitments that just weren’t accurate. It sets up a false expectation and people won’t stay with an employer if they feel misled.”

    McLeod advises giving candidates a realistic preview of the job – and that includes the good and the bad elements. “This takes courage, but in the long run, it’s better to be honest. No jobs are perfect in every way.”
  2. Invest time in thorough onboarding
    Onboarding isn’t just about setting an employee up with the basics they need to get started. McLeod sees onboarding as a longer-term process that increases employee engagement by making them feel welcome, introducing them to your company values and giving them the tools that they need to succeed.

    “Onboarding doesn’t finish after the first day and it involves more than giving them a manual of company polices,” she says. “It should also include ongoing discussions about what an employee is expected to deliver, the goals that they have, and how you can support them.”
  3. Set clear expectations that you both agree on
    Some employers give new recruits a list of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on day one and revisit them during a formal performance review. Emily Wilson, Managing Director & Co-Founder of recruitment agency FutureYou, says this approach creates a disincentive to stay with an organisation.

    She suggests making performance part of a broader conservation with them that can shape ongoing career development. This helps them to envision a longer-term career with you.

    “Employees and hiring managers should agree on what success looks like in the role,” she says. “Rather than just offering them a contract and a job description, it’s a good idea to develop a plan on a page and agree to a set of goals and work out how they can be supported to achieve the goals."
  4. Provide support and feedback
    If employees feel supported, they’re likely to stay for the longer term. McLeod says support can be provided through constructive feedback and recognition of their work.

    “Recognition is really important to people, so make sure people know that their hard work and success is being noticed,” she says.

    Wilson says support can also be provided in more formal ways. “I just recruited a CEO for a medium-size business and the company has provided an external coach to support him in the transition to the new role,” she says.

    “It can be a 6-month search for a CEO role, and they want to make sure the person feels supported and knows that they’ve invested in them to assist with the transition.”

    Of course, this type of approach can apply to all new hires – whether CEO or graduate – and takes different forms based on their level and requirements. A new starter workshop or one-off coaching session could be examples.
  5. Offer valuable training from the very start
    Employees may stay for longer in an organisation that invests in their future. McLeod says learning and development doesn’t always require a big training budget because much of it can be done on the job.

    “A lot of organisations have adopted the ‘70:20:10’ model for learning and development. The 70% is made up of what they are learning or practicing on the job, while the 20% can include mentoring or coaching and the 10% is the formal learning through courses.”

It’s disappointing – and costly – when great talent walks out the door, especially if they’re a new recruit. But a sharp retention strategy can help you to keep employees well beyond the first six months, encouraging a valuable longer-term commitment to your organisation.