Effective onboarding is vital for setting the stage for a new employee's experience and long-term success within an organization. Consequences of losing an employee during the onboarding process or within the first year of their hire can be significant, both in terms of time and resources (Davila & Pina-Ramirez,2023; 2018; Shufutinsky & Cox, 2019). On average, replacing a departing employee can cost an organization anywhere from 20% to 250% of that employee's annual salary (Shufutinsky & Cox, 2019.) Beyond the financial aspect, intangible costs such as the loss of institutional knowledge and cultural cohesion are challenging to quantify.
This article explores common reasons for early employee attrition on the first day and examines strategies for organizations to mitigate such instances. Additionally, the significance of implementing a structured and inclusive onboarding process, aligning employee expectations with company culture and values, will be examined.
Reasons for Losing an Employee on Day One
The reasons for losing an employee on their first day can often be traced back to various factors (Davila & Pina-Ramirez,2023;2018; Shufutinsky & Cox, 2019):
1. Mismatched Expectations
Miscommunication or a lack of clarity during the hiring process can result in a misalignment of expectations. When employees discover that the actual work environment, culture or job role does not align with what was presented during the recruitment process, they may decide to resign immediately.
2. Poor Onboarding Experience
Ineffective onboarding experiences can leave new hires feeling disconnected, unsupported and undervalued. If they encounter disorganization, lack of guidance or a lack of a warm welcome, it can create a negative impression, contributing to their decision to leave.
3. Cultural Misfit
Company culture plays a vital role in employee satisfaction and engagement. If the new employee finds that their values, beliefs or work style do not align with the organization's culture, they may feel out of place and opt for an early departure.
4. Lack of Clarity in Role and Expectations
New employees seek clarity regarding their role, responsibilities and performance expectations. If these aspects are poorly communicated or if there is a disconnect between what was discussed during the interview process and the actual job requirements, it can lead to frustration and an early departure.
Strategies to Minimize Employee Loss on Day One
To prevent the loss of employees on their first day, organizations can implement the following strategies (Davila & Pina-Ramirez,2023;2018; Hyman, 2018).
Clear Communication and Expectation Setting
Employers should ensure transparent and accurate communication throughout the hiring process. Clearly defining job responsibilities, expectations and the company culture allows candidates to make informed decisions and reduces the risk of surprises or miscommunication that might lead to early departures.
Robust Onboarding Program
Implementing a well-structured onboarding program is vital for setting a positive tone from day one. Design a comprehensive program that provides new hires with the necessary information, resources and support they need to acclimate to the company. Assigning a mentor or buddy to guide them through their initial days makes them feel welcomed and supported.
Cultural Fit Assessment
During the interview process, evaluate candidates not only for their qualifications but also for their alignment with the company culture. By assessing values, work styles and preferences, organizations can identify candidates who are likely to thrive in their environment (Chillakuri, 2020; Davila & Pina-Ramirez,2023;2018; Shufutinsky & Cox, 2019).
Continuous Feedback and Check-Ins
Regularly checking in with new hires to gather feedback on their onboarding experience and addressing any concerns or issues promptly is essential. Providing channels for open communication allows employees to express their thoughts, seek clarification and receive guidance. Employers can proactively address potential problems and retain valuable talent.
Learning and Development Opportunities
Demonstrating to new employees that the organization values their growth and development is essential. Offering training programs, mentorship opportunities and clear career paths can increase their engagement and commitment to the company.
Losing an employee on their first day is a costly and demoralizing experience for any organization. It underscores the need for a well-structured and engaging onboarding process that aligns employee expectations with the Company's culture and values. By implementing these strategies, organizations can reduce early attrition, retain valuable talent and create a positive and productive work environment. Clear communication, robust onboarding programs, cultural fit assessment, continuous feedback and a focus on learning and development contribute to a successful onboarding process and long-term employee success.
- Davila, N., & Pina-Ramirez, W. (2023;2018;). Effective onboarding (1st ed.). Association for Talent Development.
- Chillakuri, B. (2020). Understanding Generation Z expectations for effective onboarding. [Generation Z onboarding expectations] Journal of Organizational Change Management, 33(7), 1277-1296. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-02-2020-0058
- Hyman, J. (2018, September). Onboarding fail: How you can prevent great hires from leaving too soon. Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffhyman/2018/09/12/onboarding-fail/?sh=64aa7d6f4700
- Shufutinsky, A & Cox, R. (2019). Losing talent on day one: Onboarding millennial employees in health care organizations. Organization Development Journal, 37(4), 33-51.
About the Author
Lisa Marie Wark, PhD, MBA
Ms. Wark is a multifaceted and solutions-focused senior management executive, business owner, and consultant accomplished in strategy planning and execution, operations leadership, P&L management, digital marketing and communications, and continuous improvements in medical practices. She is an action-oriented strategist adept in identification of areas of opportunity to positively impact patient care.
View Part 1 of this 5 part series here: Part 1: Quiet Quitting: What to Know and How to Prevent It