Dear BDC: How Do I Best Manage Expectations? / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Thirty-one percent of new hires quit a new job within six months. Why? Un-met expectations. Find out how to manage employee expectations.

Dear BDC,

I’m really worried. Two of my employees quit this month because, “their job wasn’t what they were expecting”. Both under the age of 30, they were naturally very sociable with the rest of the staff and I’m anxious others will follow their lead.

The thing is, I thought they weren’t meeting my expectations- not the other way around! How do I make sure all expectations are managed and met to prevent other employees leaving?

Expectant Employer

Dear Expectant Employer,

Managing expectations is difficult. You’re not alone in this struggle. According to research from HR software company Bamboo HR, 31% of new hires quit a new job within six months. And do you know what topped the list of reasons for leaving? Unmet expectations.

But you don’t have to contribute to this discouraging statistic- if you learn how to manage expectations on behalf of both parties.

Related Article: Dear BDC: How Do I Fire Someone?

Set expectations for employees from onboarding

Lay everything out clearly during the onboarding process. Studies show that the quality of an onboarding process is related to employee turnover. According to The Wynhurst Group, employees who participated in a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to stay with the company more than three years. Set aside budget to do so. Seventy-six percent of firms are noticing this trend and are investing in a formal onboarding system.

But how thorough an onboarding program is necessary? Depends on the position and job requirements, but according to Aberdeen’s On-boarding Benchmark Report, nearly 30% of top performing companies have a six-month onboarding program.

Lay out everything here: compensation, job responsibilities, time-off procedures, office conduct rules, dress code, on-the-job training opportunities and even the possibility of promotion. Remember, all this should be in writing and signed by both you and your employees. From there on out, develop a set schedule for employee performance evaluations. If expectations aren’t being met, these regular check-ins will facilitate open communication and set people back on track.

Meeting employee expectations

You may have been ambiguous during onboarding, but employees have every right to demand certain things from you as well. There are legal obligations to employees such as accurate payment of wages, maintaining a safe work environment, fair feedback and a thorough explanation of company policies and job responsibilities.

But there are other expectations that might not be so evident. For one, make it a point to onboard your new employee personally, ensure everything communicated is crystal clear. Thirty-three percent of new hires prefer their managers, not HR, do the onboarding. They also want on-the-job training, a review of company policies, company and equipment walk-through, and a workplace mentor.

Related Article: Dear BDC: How Do I Give Constructive Criticism?

Still, expectations go beyond the onboarding process and employees desire much more from their jobs than a paycheck. Modern employees are looking for purpose, possibilities, education opportunities, flexibility and the chance to innovate. Allow them to voice their goals at the onboarding process and let them know how you can help make these possible.

To ensure doing your job as a manager (hopefully both legally and as their leader), permit employees to provide feedback and to share their evolving wants and needs during quarterly check-ins.

Look Expectant Employer, the cost of replacing an employee within the first year of onboarding can cost up to three times his annual salary. Communicate clearly with employees from the get-go and save a few (hundred thousand) dollars.

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