Early Turnover: Reasons Why Employees Leave Their Jobs in the Initial Six Months 

Last updated Nov 4, 2023
  • Companies must focus on retaining top talent; unfortunately, many new hires leave within the first six months.
  • Common reasons for early attrition include an ineffective onboarding process, misaligned expectations, poor management experience, work-life imbalance, and lack of growth opportunities.
  • 89% of employees believe that a well-executed onboarding process greatly contributes to their level of engagement at work.
  • Strategies employers can utilize to retain employees include creating an effective onboarding process, investing in training and development, providing mentorship programs, promoting employee wellness, and prioritizing career growth opportunities.

Attracting and retaining top talent is one of the most important goals for any business.

Unfortunately, companies are experiencing a concerning trend of new hires leaving within the first six months.

Inc. provides a breakdown of employee turnover rates within the first six months of employment.

  • First Week: 16.45%
  • First Month: 17.42%
  • Second Month: 16.77%
  • Third Month: 17.42%
  • Fourth Month: 10.97%
  • Fifth Month: 5.48%
  • Sixth Month: 14.48%

This represents a significant loss for the business in terms of time and money invested in recruitment.

If your company has faced this issue, rest assured you’re not alone – but it certainly begs the question: why?

The reasons employees leave a job in their first six months vary greatly depending on different aspects such as onboarding, management style or lack thereof, compensation expectations, and more.

A Sprout Solutions study titled “The Great Resignation Part 2: The Journey to the Great Retention” found that 42% of employees who left their previous jobs cited inadequate pay and limited professional growth opportunities as the leading cause of why they left.

Understanding the factors causing early attrition can help you create strategies to prevent them from occurring in the future.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss key issues that result in employees leaving jobs much earlier than expected and how leaders can overcome these hurdles.

Why Employees Quit Within the First Six Months

Employees quit during the first six months because of a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Ineffective Onboarding Process
  2. Misaligned Expectations
  3. Poor Management Experience
  4. Work-Life Imbalance
  5. Lack of Growth Opportunities

Each of these reasons can significantly impact an employee’s decision to leave a job within the first six months.

Organizations must identify and address these issues to increase retention rates and promote employee satisfaction.

Below, we will explore each of these factors in more detail.

Related: The real costs of employee turnover

1. Ineffective Onboarding Process

The onboarding process is a crucial stage in an employee’s journey, as it sets the tone for their experience within the company.

Based on a survey conducted by BambooHR, 89% of employees believe that a well-executed onboarding process greatly contributes to their level of engagement at work.

Moreover, these employees are 30x more likely to experience overall job satisfaction.

New hires can feel disconnected and underprepared for their role if the onboarding process is poorly executed or non-existent.

A lack of proper training and guidance during this time can lead to early dissatisfaction and resignation.

Related: Onboarding – crucial to engagement and retention

2. Misaligned Expectations

Misaligned expectations occur when there is a disconnect between what the employee expects from their role and what the organization can provide.

This could be due to a lack of communication, unclear job responsibilities, or unmet promises during the recruitment process.

According to a study conducted by ThriveMap, nearly half (48%) of workers have quit their jobs due to unmet expectations.

When asked about the factors that differed from their expectations, respondents identified job responsibilities (59%), working environment (42%), work hours or shift patterns (35%), and salary or benefits (29%) as the main reasons.

When employees realize that their expectations do not align with the reality of their jobs, it can lead to disappointment and a lack of motivation.

3. Poor Management Experience

Effective communication is vital throughout the entire employee journey, and managers play a crucial role in ensuring employees clearly understand their job responsibilities.

When managers fail to provide support, guidance, or recognition, it can lead to a negative experience for employees.

According to a 2019 SHRM study, 58% of employees who left a job reported their manager as a significant factor in their decision.

Over the past five years, the cost of this turnover has amounted to over $223 billion.

4. Work-Life Imbalance

Work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for individuals, especially with the rise of remote work.

In the Philippines, over 73% of employees prioritize work-life balance, overall well-being, and happiness over a pay raise or promotion.

When an organization fails to promote a healthy work-life balance, it can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction among employees.

Heavy workloads, unrealistic expectations, or a lack of boundaries between work and personal life can cause this imbalance.

5. Lack of Growth Opportunities

Employees who are ambitious and driven to excel in their careers often look for growth opportunities within the company.

CareerAddict revealed that 82% of professionals stated that they would consider leaving their job if their career opportunities were not up to par.

Moreover, a 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that high employee turnover rates were linked to limited career development opportunities. 

33% of the surveyed individuals cited a lack of career growth opportunities as a major reason for their departure.

A lack of these opportunities can lead to feelings of stagnation and boredom, ultimately resulting in an employee seeking a job elsewhere.

Key Takeaway: Employee retention in the initial six months is a critical issue for businesses, with various factors contributing to early departures. Understanding and addressing these factors is paramount to reducing turnover and maintaining a healthy, productive workforce.

Strategies Employers Can Implement to Retain Employees

In today’s competitive job market, employee retention has become a top priority for organizations.

Employee turnover not only costs companies time and resources but also hinders productivity and can negatively impact company culture.

To retain employees, organizations can implement the following strategies:

1. Create an Effective Onboarding Process

Having a well-designed onboarding process is crucial in setting the tone for an employee’s experience with the organization.

It should not only focus on completing paperwork but also include an introduction to company culture and values, introductions to colleagues, and clear job expectations.

A positive onboarding experience can help new employees feel welcomed, valued, and motivated to stay with the company.

Automating onboarding tasks can also streamline the process and make it more efficient.

Some of the tools organizations can use for onboarding include BambooHR, Zenefits, and Sprout Recruitment.

2. Invest in Training and Development

As mentioned earlier, a lack of training and development opportunities is a major factor in employee turnover.

Organizations should invest in their managers to create a positive work environment that promotes continuous learning and development.

Doing so makes employees feel supported in their career growth, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.

Moreover, investing in employees’ skills and knowledge can also benefit the organization by increasing their capabilities and productivity.

This creates a win-win situation for both the employee and the company.

Some valuable software for employee training and development include LinkedIn Learning and Skillsoft.

3. Provide Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs can be beneficial for both new hires and more experienced employees.

New hires can have someone they can turn to for guidance and advice, while more experienced employees can develop their leadership skills by mentoring others.

This not only creates a positive work culture but also helps employees feel connected and valued within the organization.

4. Promote Employee Wellness

As discussed earlier, work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for employees.

Organizations should promote a healthy work-life balance by implementing flexible work arrangements, offering mental health resources, and encouraging employees to take time off when needed.

5. Prioritize Career Growth Opportunities

Employees often leave their jobs due to a lack of career growth opportunities.

Therefore, organizations should prioritize creating clear career development plans for employees and providing them with avenues for growth.

This could include attending conferences, taking on new projects, or being promoted to a higher position within the company.

Key takeaway: Investing in employees is crucial for retaining employees in a competitive job market. Strategies that make employees feel valued and supported contribute to a positive company culture, leading to increased productivity and reduced turnover.

Final Thoughts

While there are various reasons why employees may choose to leave their jobs during the first six months, organizations can take proactive measures to retain top talent.

By following our guide above on effective strategies, your organization can increase job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately retain valuable employees.

Partnering with an executive search firm like Curran Daly & Associates can provide you with the necessary support, advice, and strategies needed to successfully navigate this competitive job market.Contact us today to start building a stronger, more loyal workforce for your organization.

By: Curran Daly + Associates


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