It is estimated that one out of every five newly hired employees will quit within their first year. Up to 20 percent of those who resign will leave during their first 45 days. The solution to reducing a company’s turnover rate can begin with a conversation.

By initiating a discussion about the challenges of the first year of employment, and coming up with strategies to deal with them head on, employers can encourage new hires to become productive, long-term members of the team.

A variety of issues can arise with new employees during the first year of employment. Employers complain about common bad habits among new hires: making comparisons to previous jobs, expecting to advance too fast, resisting the new company culture or not mixing well with other employees.

New employees have complaints of their own, most of which can be attributed to the stress of learning new skills, developing new relationships and working extended hours to get up to speed. The stress is often compounded if the employee moved his or her family to a new town for the job.

The good news for both employers and employees is these difficulties are normal, and solutions exist. On the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a psychiatric tool that ranks life’s most stressful events, changing jobs ranks just after the death of a close friend. Employers can help ease new hire stress and prevent some of the complications related to it by understanding its scope, preparing for it, and having an open conversation about it before the employee’s first day with the company.

Onboarding Eases Stress
Employees should accept that the first year of any new job will be stressful. They will have to do the hard work necessary to adjust to and cope with the pressure of change. Employees cannot lose sight of the fact that they have chosen this new path. Put energy into integrating with the new company instead of comparing new circumstances to old ones. Acclimate to the new company culture. Do not keep one foot out the door.

If employees feel unhappy in the first few months, they must remember they are experiencing a normal stress response and things will most likely get better as they become more familiar and comfortable in the new position. Commit to the new job for a full year. After a year has passed, schedule time to reevaluate the situation. Employees will be able to more accurately gauge their level of satisfaction with the new job after they have had ample time to adjust.

Employers should proactively address common transitional issues with all new hires. Encourage employees to talk when they are troubled. Involve the recruiter if necessary. One of the most effective strategies can be developing a comprehensive onboarding process designed to integrate new employees into the company and cultivate their talents.

Onboarding, also known as organizational socialization, is a structured process of welcoming
and acclimating new employees. These programs can reduce new hire stress by familiarizing people with company culture, policies and personnel, and by giving employees the resources they need to learn how to do their jobs effectively.

Reducing stress is only one of the benefits of establishing an onboarding program. These plans also can minimize the amount of time it takes for new employees to reach their full potential while maximizing their job satisfaction and loyalty to the company.

To make an onboarding program maximally effective, human resources experts recommend that the process last a full 90 days. Consider providing the following tools and resources to each new employee as part of a comprehensive onboarding plan:
  • a seasoned mentor or coach;
  • a clear statement expressing the company’s mission, goals and values;
  • an in-depth job description that includes objectives and responsibilities;
  • regular performance reviews;
  • organizational charts with names and titles that show the chain of command;
  • a career development plan with short- and long-term goals; and
  • formal and informal introductory meetings with key players.
Initiating a conversation about stress, and creating a plan to manage it, does not have to be expensive, but the cost of not having it can be very high. Industry analysts have placed the price tag for employee turnover as high as $37 billion annually. By addressing the challenges of the first year of employment and giving new hires the best chance for success, companies can save money, increase productivity and lower turnover rates.

Justin Wilkins is a specialist of Kimmel & Associates’ industrial/ power and mechanical divisions, with a focus in the South-Central United States. For more information, call (828) 251-9900, ext. 555, or email