Recently, Dale Carnegie Training conducted a European study that found employees who had been with the company less than one year but more than six months experienced the most dangerously low levels of employee engagement. This anemic commitment to the company not only results in low morale, satisfaction and productivity, but left unchecked, can also lead to disastrous issues with employee retention. Here’s why this period of time is such a risk factor — and what good employers should be doing about it.
This is a vulnerable time
It’s not life or death, but this is a tricky time in terms of employee retention and satisfaction. In many ways, it’s akin to the end of the early days of marriage. “Most research shows that the first six months is a honeymoon phase at work. Many workers are excited by the new job and are exploring what their role is. After that they may realize that reality doesn’t meet their expectations,” says career coach David Couper.
It’s also an awkward time
These new employees may not be straight out of orientation, but they are still the “new” kids at school. “At the 6 to 12 month mark, the initial excitement of a new job has worn off and yet you’re still new enough that you may not be up-and-running at 100% efficiency,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine. The solution to improve employee satisfaction is simple–continued communication and training post-orientation. “It’s important there is a lot of feedback and open communication between the new employee and their boss, mentor, or HR contact assigned to help them onboard into their new role,” says Ceniza-Levine.
Employees can feel isolated
Employees who feel connected to their boss and colleagues during orientation sometimes feel like they fall through the cracks after a few months. Dale Carnegie trainers found that the most important factor affecting engagement is the relationship between direct supervisor and employee. Therefore, that person needs to take responsibility for new hires being integrated into the company through additional training and mentoring. They should also encourage new employees to interact with each other through planned programs or simple happy hours, which can increase satisfaction. Celia-Levine did this in her role as a corporate trainer: “I encouraged [new] hires to seek each other out. This way, they had a built-in support system all throughout their first year.”
They may be given unrealistic responsibilities
With head-counts still being kept low, many new employees are being hired for jobs that were once filled by two or three people. “Many face unrealistic expectations regarding deliverables, deadlines, and bottom-line results especially in an economy focused on short term revenue generation and profitability,” says Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide. Good supervisors give new employees reasonable goals, are clear about what those goals are, and then provide the tools and training necessary to reach them. “Schedule regular meetings to make sure that everyone is on the same page with respect to progress, expectations, and any barriers that may exist,” suggests Cohen.
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