What’s the big issue?

Over a third of new recruits quit within the first year of starting, figures from The Work Institute have revealed.

Why does it matter?

This leaves bosses facing the tricky task of keeping the trust of remaining employees, while stumping up the cost of hiring a replacement – as much as 150% of annual salary, according to Gallup. In other words, it’s potentially damaging and expensive.

What’s going on here?

People are leaving new jobs so quickly because basic relationships within and between teams have become so complicated, and organisational structures are increasingly confusing. And because the expectations that new recruits typically have – of themselves and their employer – don’t align with their experience once they start a new role.

There are other factors at play, to be sure. However, research by employee engagement specialists Imperative found 98% of new hires claiming one or more of their key relationship needs were not being met, leaving them feeling disconnected, devalued and, therefore, at risk of quitting. Moreover, a majority didn’t feel their managers had the means to help them build the internal networks needed to survive and thrive in a new, and often challenging, environment.

Naturally, there’s a witty name to go with this phenomenon; kudos to whoever came up with ‘decruitment’. Forget the ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ – and please, don’t get us started on ‘loud hiring’ – decruitment is fast becoming one of the hottest workplace issues. It’s easy to imagine the eye-rolling and muttering of ‘snowflake’ and ‘suck it up’ from less than sympathetic bosses, but that kind of reaction not only misses the point, it minimises the potential value of new employees’ contributions.

What can be done?

Investing in relationships improves outcomes, whether in a football team, a hospital emergency room, or a business. And allowing everyone to have a say in what goes on increases their sense of ownership and commitment.

This is illustrated by the IKEA effect. When we build pieces of furniture that arrive flat-packed from IKEA we sometimes struggle with the instructions, or fudge some of the steps. But in the end we value what we’ve made more than if we’d bought it pre-assembled.

Researchers have proved this many times, for example by asking people to put a price on an IKEA piece they have just built. They invariably price it higher than the same item made by strangers, even when theirs is obviously imperfect. As any craft-maker will tell you, we believe that the effort we put into making something gives it unique value. Imagine the power of spreading that kind of belief throughout your business.

Easier said than done? Maybe, but by no means impossible. Simple, practical steps aimed at building trust and encouraging participation can put those crucial internal relationships on the right footing from the start. Allowing all voices to be heard can reveal hidden potential, even in the rawest recruit, and may deter decruitment.

There are other ideas being floated. How about ‘detirement’ – bringing retired folks back into the business, with all their experience and perspective. Or ‘returnships’, where people who have left the business are tempted back for a short stint to plug a gap. Fixes like these might have their place, but they also add to the growing complexity in talent management. Not to mention the urgent need for less awful jargon.

But if making up new terminology is helpful, how about rebranding HR as Human Relationships? That might encourage more of us to make the necessary investment in building those crucial employee connections and relationships.


This article was first published on LinkedIn.

Cover image source Szabó Viktor

Gilmar Wendt is the Founder and Principal of GW+Co.
Contact him on gw@gilmarwendt.com @gilmarwendt