Leaving from unrealistic expectations

On the Job

April 11, 2007|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun columnist

Bad bosses, inadequate pay and lack of opportunities are the often-given reasons for workers leaving a job.

But here's another reason: unrealistic job expectations.

That's according to 48 percent of 2,046 human resources and development managers surveyed by Novations, a workplace consulting and training firm in Boston.

"There's not a lot of attention paid to giving candidates information about what is expected on the job in order for them to decide that this is something that they want to sign up for," says Tim Vigue, an executive consultant at Novations who works with clients on hiring and retention issues.

The survey examined the number of employees leaving within the first year of employment and their reasons for doing so. (The survey has a margin of error of 3.75 percentage points.)

It found that 33 percent of employers are losing between 10 percent and 25 percent of first-year employees. Another 11 percent of companies say that between 25 percent and 50 percent of first-year workers depart. And about 54 percent see less than 10 percent of new employees leaving, while 2 percent are losing more than 50 percent of their workers.

Making the right employer-worker match is becoming even more crucial as the war for talent heats up. In numerous surveys, employers say it's getting harder to find qualified workers, and they expect competition to get worse.

"The misunderstanding is that it's tougher so I have to grab whoever I can, instead of looking at this as a long-term battle," Vigue says. "Each hire is more important because the talent war is tight."

Besides unrealistic job expectations, employers gave other reasons they believe their new workers are leaving so quickly.

They include:

Failure to grasp the unwritten and unspoken rules of the organization: 39 percent

Poor communications with immediate supervisor: 33 percent

Failure to develop a sense of belonging and purpose: 26 percent

Inadequate technical skills: 23 percent

Not understanding the link between the job and organization goals: 21 percent

Failure to connect with key employees: 18 percent

Inability to establish trust and credibility quickly: 13 percent

Poor people skills: 13 percent

To avoid a situation where the job you've accepted is not the one advertised, Vigue offers several suggestions, such as asking the right questions about what you can expect. And as obvious as this sounds, do your homework by talking with former and current employees.

Also, ask to observe some workers in their office environment so you know the "good, bad and ugly," Vigue says.

On the other end, employers should be upfront about what they expect.

After all, an employer should want to hire a worker who wants the job based on realistic expectations.

Send your stories, tips and questions to working@baltsun. com. Please include your first name and your city. On the Job is published Monday at www.baltimoresun.com.

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