The Answer to New Employee Retention - Not Just Onboarding

Roberts Eglitis

Newly hired employees quitting is a huge burden. Not only does it consume recruiting resources, but also slows down the progress of the internal teams involved. Moreover, high new employee turnover negatively affects overall business growth. 

The standard HR playbook for preventing new hires from leaving is to create and improve onboarding processes. But while a good onboarding experience definitely helps new hires acclimatize into an organization, it doesn't address another root cause of the issue: mismatched expectations.

The scale of the issue - how many new hires are quitting? 

According to a study by Jobvite, approximately 30% of new hires quit their jobs within the first three months of employment. In a survey by Robert Half, 91% of respondents admit considering quitting within the first month at a new job, while 28% actually do. In other words, about one-quarter to one-third of new hires quit within the first 90 days! 

To put these numbers into perspective, the average cost of hiring a new employee is about $4,700, according to SHRM HR Benchmarking Report 2022. Therefore, for a hypothetical company of 1000 employees, using the average U.S. annual turnover rate of 18%, the recruiting costs associated with early turnover alone would amount to a conservative estimate of almost a quarter million dollars.

Disclaimer: These are some back-of-the-napkin maths for establishing a generalised idea, based on averages. The real numbers, of course, differ highly from company to company and role to role. 

1000 (number of employees) x 18% (average U.S. turnover rate) x 28% (new employee quitting rate) x $4700 (average cost to hire) = $236 800

That’s without counting in losses for teams not operating at full capacity due to either missing employees or new employees getting up to speed. In conclusion, new employees quitting is a huge deal. 

The cause(s) of employees quitting early

So what causes new hires to quit after only three months on the job? As you might have guessed, it's more a combination of factors rather than a single, straightforward reason. Forbes Council member and BrightHR CEO Alan Price cites mismatched employee expectations as the number one reason new hires quit early. The second factor, according to Price, is poor management experience, and the third - lack of opportunity. All of these aspects essentially boil down to managing new employee expectations.

What can we do?

Based on all of this, how do we reduce new hire attrition? The key word is consistency. We have to make sure that the culture and the expectation setting don't start with the onboarding, not even with the interview, but rather — with the job description. And most importantly, the messaging stays consistent throughout the hiring process, onboarding, and further employee training.

To achieve this, you must start including information about the role beyond requirements as early as possible - within the publicly available job posting. For example, include a 30-60-90 day plan, a day in the life section or perhaps a message from the hiring manager to let potential candidates know what it would be like to work at the company and allow them to make more informed decisions. At the end of the day, we're all interested in finding a great match on both sides, so try to be transparent and consistent instead of generic from the very beginning. 

This way, not only can you attract more people to your open position by showcasing the open position, but also start qualifying candidates and therefore — the to-be new hire — more precisely even before the intro call. 

Combined with a smooth hiring process and thought-out onboarding, this allows you to retain more of the new hires you’ve worked so hard to make as the position is more likely to be as advertised from the perspective of the new employee. 


“Since we began using Hyperjob, we've noticed a significant bump in replies from candidates. Regular ads can be a bit boring, but Hyperjob's got this eye-catching format that has impressed both the candidates and the hiring managers.”

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Krists Vitols

Team lead for tech recruitment team

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