How to Avoid New Employee Turnover

Posted by Bruce Tulgan

Our ongoing research at RainmakerThinking reveals the five most common causes of new employee turnover. Use the following list as a guideline for avoiding high employee turnover rates.


employee turnover

1. Overselling the job

This is the number one cause of voluntary departures within the first twelve months.  Too often hiring managers continue the “attraction campaign” with job candidates until they have accepted the job, and sometimes until the new employee is already at work. In an effort to sell, sell, sell the job to the candidate, sometimes companies make promises they cannot keep. Or, at the least, they present the job as something it is not, obscuring the downsides while overemphasizing the upsides.


The only way to avoid overselling candidates is to be honest and up front about the realities of the job, as early in the process as possible. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is usually more helpful to try scaring candidates away than to lure them into a position. You can be confident that whatever candidates remain interested, even after you’ve made the job’s downsides crystal clear, will be much better aligned to the needs of the position and your organization.


2. Overlooking red flags in the selection process

The number two cause of new employee turnover leads to early voluntary and involuntary departures. When hiring managers are so eager to fill an open position that they overlook obvious concerns that arise in the selection process, they set up new employees for failure.  Perhaps a job candidate is looking for work conditions or rewards that are unrealistic.  Or perhaps the job candidate shows up late to the interview or keeps checking his/her handheld device, or there are misspellings in the resume.


Be rigorous in selection and do not overlook those red flags.


3. Insufficient onboarding

The number three cause of early voluntary departures is failing to provide a thorough and effective onboarding and up-to-speed training for new employees.  When it comes to managing new hires, there is a simple rule:day one is the most important day, day two is second most important, and so on.


Make sure your onboarding process provides meaningful and engaging schedule combining formal orientation and training, a series of well-planned one-on-one meetings with every individual with whom the new employee will be working (most important the new hire’s new manager), observational attendance at key meetings with proper debriefs, extensive work product reviews with debriefs, and other structured activities. The goal is to establish real connections between the new hire and the organization, it’s vision and mission, the team, key individuals, and the work.


4. Handing off a new employee to a hands-off manager

This is the number four cause of early employee turnover.  Imagine the whiplash experienced by new hires who are enthusiastically recruited with an intensive hiring and onboarding process, only to be deposited into a low-structure, low-support workplace?  Whatever investments you make in hiring and onboarding will be squandered if new employees are welcomed then (more or less) by weak disengaged managers.

Once you’ve invested in attracting, selecting, and onboarding a new employee, it is critical to hand that new employee off to an immediate manager who will provide regular guidance and support.


5. New employees conclude that their immediate manager doesn’t have enough to offer in terms of ongoing career development

This is the number five cause of departures within the first twelve months, but the number one cause of voluntary departures within 12 to 36 months.


Most people today want strong, highly-engaged managers who can help them achieve their career goals. This is especially true of the most ambitious and motivated high-performers – they are looking for leaders who can help them gain the skills, knowledge, projects, and connections that will get them to the next level.


It doesn’t take long for new employees to determine whether a manager is either willing or able to provide the kind of guidance and support they need in order to succeed. Once they’ve come to the conclusion that a manager is NOT, it is usually too late. That great new employee is almost certainly looking for a new and better opportunity somewhere else and checked out of doing their job for you at the same time.


If a manager describes a new employee as “pushy” or “aggressive,” you may want to dig deeper. It could be that the employee is simply trying to get more from their manager and growing increasingly frustrated when they aren’t able to get what they need. The leaders and managers in your organization must be prepared to provide guidance, direction, and support. They must also be in a position to advocate for their direct reports when it comes to obtaining resources, assigning tasks, and building connections either outside or inside the organization.

Interested in booking Bruce Tulgan?

Visit or call 1.800.345.5607 for more information.

Posted by Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan is the best-selling author of numerous books including Not Everyone Gets a Trophy (Revised & Updated, 2016), Bridging the Soft Skills Gap (2015), The 27 Challenges Managers Face (2014), and It’s Okay to be the Boss (Revised & Updated, 2014). He is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking, Inc., a management research and training firm, as well as, an online training service. Bruce has written for the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, HR Magazine, Training Magazine, and the Huffington Post. Follow Bruce on Twitter @BruceTulgan, or visit his website at

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