Shift Shock: What It Is & How to Avoid It

Shift Shock: What It Is & How to Avoid It

From the Great Resignation to the 4-day work week, today’s job-market and daily workplace have changed drastically. Now, a new term has emerged: shift shock.

Let’s take a look at what shift shock is, and how your company can tackle it head on.

What is shift shock?

Today, millennials and Gen Z employees make up 46 percent of the US workforce. According to a recent Muse survey, an astounding 72 percent of respondents in those generations said that they’ve regretted accepting a new role after starting it—even those who considered the role to be their “dream job”.

So why is this happening? The answer is quite simple: misled expectations. New hires experience shift shock when they start a job and realize that the role or company is very different from what they were led to believe. Sometimes it can be both, with 29 percent of employees saying that they experienced shift shock because they were misled about the role and company. 

With shift shock on the rise, companies are facing even more problems with employee retention. In fact, 80 percent of employees feel it’s acceptable to leave a new job before 6 months if it doesn’t meet their expectations. If they experience shift shock immediately, 41 percent of new hires would leave as early as 2 months. As boomerang employees also become more common, it’s not surprising that 48 percent of new hires who experience shift shock try to get their old jobs back.

Why is shift shock trending now?

As the Great Resignation lingers and companies continue to hire for remote positions, more and more new hires are experiencing shift shock.

One of the main reasons for this is that companies are still struggling to convey expectations when interviewing candidates virtually. Without having new hires onboard and meet their coworkers in-person, introducing them to company culture and helping them get adjusted to their roles can be challenging as well. 

On top of this, many companies are also struggling to understand how candidates’ expectations have shifted. As a result of COVID-19, candidates’ priorities have drastically changed when it comes to benefits, PTO plans, work schedules, and career development opportunities. Companies who fail to embrace these shifts will not be able to compete for top candidates, and those who are not upfront about what they do and do not offer will not be able to retain them.

How can your company tackle it?

Since shift shock is a result of misled expectations, the key to avoiding it is being realistic and transparent when talking to candidates about the role they’re applying for and your company. To help you tackle this head on, here are some tips:

Role Expectations

Whether it’s about responsibilities, salary, benefits, working hours, or WFA policies, it’s crucial to be upfront with candidates about role expectations during the hiring process. This starts with job descriptions. Clearly stating what a role entails in its job description will immediately help convey expectations. What will the person’s day-to-day look like? Is it a 9-to-5 job or is your company flexible with schedules? Is the role in-person, or can the employee work remotely full-time? 

Once candidates advance to the interview stage, it’s imperative to reiterate these expectations. Walk them through the role and ask them if they have any questions. Doing so will make sure you’re on the same page with no surprises if you end up hiring them—which not only increases the chances of them staying at your company, but also helps set them up for success.

Company Culture Expectations 

Of course the role itself has a huge impact on whether a candidate accepts an offer, but company culture is also important. In fact, one third of candidates would pass up the perfect role if the organization’s culture wasn’t a good match. Another study found that 32 percent of employees who had left a job within the first 90 days listed company culture as the reason. 

Look for candidates who will be a “culture add” to your organization, not a “culture fit” — meaning employees who not only embrace your values, but more importantly add to your company’s diversity by offering different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. You also need to define your culture clearly during the hiring process. What exactly are your core values and mission statement, and how does your workforce embody them? What Employee Resource Groups do you have? How often do your employees volunteer, and for what causes? 

This is where employee referrals can be extremely helpful. It’s likely that candidates your employees refer share similar values and are looking for the same kind of culture—which decreases the chances that they will experience shift shock and increases the chances of them staying at your company. According to recent data, 45 percent of employees sourced from referrals stay at their companies for longer than 4 years.

Looking for more retention strategies? Check out our latest eBook to learn how else you can keep your employees in for the long haul.

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