The New Hire Who Left Your Company Quickly
Calum Halcrow ·
Culture, Team Dynamics
Why people sometimes leave shortly after joining your team, and what to do about it.
If you manage a team, sooner or later you’re going to run into a situation in which a new hire decides to leave very soon after they joined.
This can be really frustrating. You spent months running a recruitment campaign. You interviewed many candidates. You whittled your preference down to a small few, you made your choice…and they accepted! You patiently waited out their notice period and finally, the big day came: their first day. You did everything right up to this point and beyond, paying special attention to their needs and ensuring they were settling in okay. The team likes them and they like the team back. It’s all going swimmingly. Then suddenly, they want to talk. They break the news that they’ve decided to leave and before you can say “probation period in effect” they’re out the door after 24 hours notice.
You’re left feeling rather foolish. You have to explain to your team that the new hire has left. Will they think that they took one look under the hood and decided to get out while they could? On top of the slight, you’re now back to where you were previously: in need of another person. Will the other candidates still be interested? It’s been two months since you turned them down - they’ve probably accepted other offers, and would they even accept your offer knowing they were not your first choice? Problems.
What happened, and what can you do?
First, empathize with the new hire. When someone is looking for a new job they typically apply to many companies. If you make them an offer first, they may accept because they see your company as “good enough”. Finding a new job is an uncertain situation and they might be thinking that your offer may be the only one they get. They are eager to get a job quickly as they want to continue earning.
It may be that other companies they applied to have a longer assessment process. It may take them a couple of months longer to make an offer than you (especially if the other company is big and you are small). It may be that the candidate really wants to work with that other company but isn’t sure if they’ll make an offer. They may have already started working with you by the time they get that other offer.
They may find that after working with you for a few weeks the job isn’t what they expected. If they get a convenient way out, they will gladly take it before they get in too deep.
For you, these possibilities just make hiring all the more difficult. But all is not lost. There are a few to handle this phenomenon:
Recognize that this can happen and plan for it. Don’t place new hires into key roles from Day 1. Put them in non-critical roles until they are fully onboarded and showing signs of sticking around. This gives them time to get comfortable with your company before getting into the “real work” you’ve hired them for. A stint in non-critical work can be less challenging for them and therefore provides a gentler (and therefore more successful) onboarding. It also gives time for those applications they made to other companies to go cold.
Place redundancy into your staffing. Aim for a situation where any one of your teams can continue to be reasonably productive (for a while at least) with one less person. That way, when you’re bringing in that hire to join that team, if it doesn’t work out the team can still manage until you find another person.
Nail down your offer → first day → onboarded process. Sometimes companies put a lot of focus on the assessment part of their recruitment process but neglect the on-boarding part. This can give a bad impression to the new hire, increasing the chances of them accepting an offer elsewhere. The trick to nailing this is to communicate with the new hire very clearly and be very accommodating with requests or questions they have. Always be prompt, respectful, crystal-clear, and courteous. This goes for all communication, but it is especially important with new hires as they are paying close attention to all the details of every interaction. It’s an uncertain time for them which puts their radars on overdrive. Continue with this attitude after their first day too. Make sure they are properly managed, and that their manager is looking out for their success.
Hiring is tough, but with perseverance and good planning you’ll flesh out a great team. Good luck!