5 reasons why new employees fail

Example of new employees failing

No one wants their new employee to fail. The hiring process itself can cost thousands of dollars, after all, and starting the process all over again a few months later can be a serious blow to productivity and morale.

To prevent new hires from falling short in the probation period, we need to first learn why they fail. And more often than not, it’s the fault of the employer, not the employee.

Here are five reasons why new employees fail.

The hiring process was too fast

Blame the newbie recruiter, the over-eager hiring manager, or the demanding CEO – no matter what the reason, hiring cycles get rushed. And when the process gets rushed, two things happen.

First, the company doesn’t learn everything they need to know about the candidate. The hiring team doesn’t probe to see how the candidate fits in with the company values and culture, or skips the reference and employment checks.

Second, the candidate doesn’t learn everything they need to know about the company. They might not have time to ask about the mission, or the communication process, or the management style – all of which can have a huge impact on their ability to thrive in the role.

In short: when a candidate gets hired without both sides knowing everything they need to know, you’re setting everyone up for a disaster.

The job posting varied from the actual job description

If a job posting has any differences from the actual job’s responsibilities, duties, and requirements, they need to be communicated to the candidate before a job offer is made. Otherwise, the new hire could potentially be thrown into a role that they’re not qualified for – and they might lack the skills and experience to do it properly.

Even if the changes to the job description are duties that the new hire can easily take on, it can still throw the employee off to learn that the role they signed up for has changed.

There was no (or too little) onboarding

We’ve talked about the importance on onboarding before. There’s a crucial difference between job training and onboarding – and the latter plays a crucial role in setting new hires up for success.

Starting from the moment you make them a job offer, an onboarding program connects a new hire to your culture and values, shows them how their role fits into the structure and strategy, and helps them to develop relationships with their coworkers.

Here’s an excerpt from our free eGuide on onboarding:

“Onboarding is your chance to show an employee what it means to be working for you, and why it was a brilliant decision to accept the job. Successful programs strike a fine balance between educating and training new hires, while also making them feel valued from day one.”

However, when you don’t onboard new hires fully, they’re much more likely to leave (or asked to leave) before their probation period is finished.

There was too little (or too much) feedback

Feedback costs nothing to offer, and yet a lack of it is one of the major reasons that employees leave their jobs.

When a new employee strays from the department’s goals, does management steer them gently back on track, or burn them alive? Ideally, ongoing feedback and check-ins are folded into the final stages of your onboarding program. But if they’re not, a new hire can quickly feel isolated and unengaged.

At the same time, new employees need to be able to make their job their own. If you have taken the time to match the perfect candidate to the role, then you should be able to take a step back and let them start, well, working.

Particularly if the role involves management or leading a team, offering too much guidance to a new hire can send the message that you don’t trust them.

That’s not to say you should be completely hands-off – but you need to find the right balance. Give new hires the tools they need to learn and grow, and schedule check-ins to see how they’re moving along. Then give them some space to find their own way.

They were simply a bad fit

Of course, it’s not always the employer’s fault. Sometimes, a new hire is simply a bad fit. They might have misrepresented (read: lied about) their experience or skills. Or, despite all the training and onboarding you throw at them, they might be unable to integrate into your culture and team. It happens. Learn from the process and try again.

See also:
Why people quit (and how to prevent it)
What to do when an employee resigns (a step-by-step guide)
How to tell a new hire they didn’t make it past probation


– Subscribe to the Hiring Insider newsletter
– Follow Workopolis_Hire on Twitter
– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast
– Post a job on Workopolis now


Previous Post 6 job candidates you should never hire


Next Post Going with the flow: 5 simple ways to improve employee engagement

Scroll back to top