Over the past two years, we’ve been hearing a lot about the Great Resignation—or as some would call it, the Great Reassessment. The trend reflects the record number of employees who are switching jobs, revaluating their work roles and reprioritizing their lives. A recent Harris Poll in partnership with USA Today found that:
- 1 in 5 employees who quit their jobs during the last two years regret it. A similar number feel remorseful about starting their new job.
- Only 1 in 4 new employees say they like their new role enough to stay.
- And 1 in 3 recently hired employees are already looking for a new job.
- About 1 in 3 miss their work-life balance or say the new position is different than they expected.
- About 1 in 4 realize they didn’t fully evaluate the new role before accepting it or miss their prior employer’s workplace culture.
- From another perspective, about 39 percent of employers say the person they hired didn’t meet their usual qualifications.
- And according to LinkedIn’s Economic Graph Team, an increasing number of new hires, 4.3 percent, are boomerang employees. They’re returning to their former employers 17 months later on average. Several workers are even offering tips on social media on how to ask for an old job back.
While this trend of employees switching their jobs certainly isn’t new, the frequency has greatly increased.
Where are employees coming from?
The obvious challenge to those contemplating switching jobs is to clearly evaluate why they’re leaving their current employer. Are they moving away from a bad situation or being attracted to a great opportunity? Are they fully interviewing you, their prospective employer, so that they can understand what it’s really like to work there? And do they know the most important aspects of the culture that must be in place for them to perform well and to love their job? Because the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence; sometimes, it’s just different grass (and at some bad employers, it might be spray-painted!).
The great commitment
Once employees answer these questions and decide to accept a position at another company, it’s time for them to make the Great Commitment. This is important for new hires who may find themselves “on the fence” in their new role because of concerns about relationships with their colleagues, organizational politics or alignment of responsibilities.
To perform well, they should decide to stay with you for a sufficient period and make a genuine effort. This means embracing the assignments, engaging with colleagues, developing strategies and goals, guiding the team, taking responsibility for outcomes and working toward a common purpose.
What can they learn?
Whether they ultimately decide to stay with you for three months or three years, think about what they can learn from the experience. The job I hated the most in my career was also the one I learned the most from. The culture was 180 degrees from my norm, but I knew that going in. And while there were many challenging days, I learned how to lead in difficult circumstances, how to navigate conflict and how to behave in a manner that would make them respect me. And my next job was a well-deserved promotion. Even if they aren’t a perfect fit for the role, you can help them gain valuable insights and knowledge and walk away with a positive experience.
Examine potential bias
We all have unconscious beliefs about certain groups and environments. New co-workers may exhibit behaviors that trigger past negative experiences for new employees. Attitudes or stereotypes can cause us to assume things that aren’t true. Your personality may differ from the employee’s, and they may not mesh well with their new workgroup. It makes it hard to get to know them. Likewise, your employee may feel put off because they don’t feel as welcomed as they expected.
Rather than blaming it all on one side or another, reflect on how the way you show up contributes to the situation. Try making small adjustments to your behaviors, reexamining underlying assumptions and approaching situations differently to help them adjust.
Bringing your best self
After the unending stress of the pandemic and two years of remote work, some employees are focused on bringing their true authentic selves to work. That may show up in their appearance, communication style or how they manage conflict and collaborate with others.
The key is to encourage them to bring their best selves—the one that they would want to see as a co-worker. That best self should be emotionally intelligent, allow their passions and interests to shine through and be a positive influence on the environment.
Leaders have a major role to play in modeling behavior that leads the rest of the team in welcoming and integrating a new member. They should express value for the skill sets each person brings, bridge cultural differences and help them operate as a cohesive group. This is about recognizing and welcoming a variety of perspectives and leveraging the values of differences.
So, commit to helping them make a commitment. There is no perfect workplace. There’s only a place where they can hopefully contribute and improve. And working in a mismatched environment isn’t necessarily bad for the employee. It’s a learning opportunity. I had a conversation with a Gen Z recently who framed it appropriately: “Hard places are where you have to grow.”
Editor’s note: this article was modified to include an employer’s perspective. You can find the original version here.
Want more advice on how to help employees who are switching jobs? Give them a copy of 10 Important Questions to Ask in a New Position.