Why Your New Hire Isn’t Working Out

BY C. Lee Smith
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If your product had a 60% failure rate, alarm bells would be going off. You’d be concerned that customers would stop buying your product. And you’d take immediate action. What if your hiring process failed 60% of the time? Would you start trying to fix the problems that led to so many new hires who weren’t working out? This is not a theoretical question. The latest research indicates that a significant number of new hires have failed to meet expectations. Or they’ve simply left the organization. Here is an analysis of what’s been happening and what you can do to fix it.

The Problem with Your New Hire

We’re all optimistic when a new employee joins the company. The pressure is on for this person to pick up where their predecessor left off. We even imagine that the new hire can excel in areas where their predecessor was lacking.

In too many cases, a new hire leaves the company after you've invested time and money into training them. And you’re forced to begin the recruitment process again. Other times, the employee struggles to fit in with the rest of the team or has trouble serving customers with the kind of standards you want. They leave and you're asking what went wrong? Before you restart the recruitment process it's worth analyzing what went wrong and thinking about what you can change the next time around.

According to Leadership IQ, "89% of people working within recruitment stated that when new hires don’t work out for a company, it’s often due to a lack of soft skills.” Depending on the type of position you’re trying to fill, the soft skills of communication, emotional intelligence and decision-​making are key. In particular, being skilled at communication impacts an employee’s ability to get along with coworkers and customers.

When an employee lacks soft skills, they may struggle to find their place on the team. As a result, they never feel like they fit in their job or the company.

Changed Hiring Environment

In today’s hiring environment, companies have been rushing to onboard people. They’ve also changed requirements regarding experience and formal college degrees. That strategy may not cause a huge issue because hard skills can be taught. With a few days of training, your new hire will understand how to update the critical Excel worksheet or the current CRM system.

But improving a person’s soft skills poses more of a challenge. To know exactly what you might be getting before you extend an offer, ask your top candidates to take a psychometric assessment. Review the results to determine the work behaviors of each candidate. A person with a mindset that brings about great attention to detail might be exactly what you need on your team. On the other hand, a person with low drive may be a problematic employee if you need a team member who is focused on high output.

Improving the Hiring and Onboarding Process

Kim-​adele Randall, CEO of Authentic Achievements, believes ”More background and reference checks will weed out candidates who are not qualified or who have a history of bad behavior.” Psychometric assessments can serve as an effective tool to flag candidates who may exhibit toxic workplace behavior in certain situations. When you require all candidates to take these assessments, you have a broader understanding of their mindset and motivations. And when an assessment reveals that a person has a tendency to bully others, you’ll know how to manage that aspect if you decide to extend an offer.

Hiring outcomes also fall into trouble because a new employee realizes the job wasn’t what they had imagined. One way to fix that part of the process is to use temporary or contract workers. For jobs that are not complex, the training effort may not be significant. And if the worker likes what they’re doing on a daily basis, you may be able to convert them to employee status. Otherwise, do your best to give serious applicants an honest preview of the position. Consider giving them an assignment and review their work before you make an offer.

Upgrading Your Onboarding Process

Back in the day, the onboarding and orientation process may have lasted only a day or two. At some companies, after the new hire met people in their department and was possibly taken out to lunch, they were left to figure out the culture on their own. Ouch.

Many of us can remember being the new kid at school. It took weeks or even months to find our place. During that time, we probably weren’t focused on learning. The same thing happens when you let a new hire struggle. If you don’t match them with work buddies, they’ll flounder, feel that nobody cares about them and possibly leave.

Some industry experts aren’t sure whether the 60% failure rate for new hires is a bigger problem than it has been historically. They also point to the fact that employees no longer expect to work for a company for life as they did generations ago. While shorter employment stints may be the new normal, you’ll still want to do your best to find a new hire who will enjoy working with your team for the long term.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.