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Why is my employee turnover rate so high?

Stacey Shaw February 9, 2021

Many employers are navigating a job market that's already fraught with challenges, finding hires that match their needs to come on board only to have the new hires quit shortly after arriving. This endless cycle drains recruiter energy, time, and company resources. So, what causes high turnover?

The culprit: false employer branding

To understand the issue, we're going to look at the issue from the point of view of the job-seeker. Finding a new job is a lot like online dating. Potential applicants spend hours scrolling through pictures, reading about your company’s personality and culture, and crafting that perfect email to hopefully get the job. Falling in love with a job before you even start is easy. Falling out of love when the “rose-tinted glasses” come off is just as easy.

Whether you’re posting to Tinder or Indeed, building a new relationship on a lie is never a good idea.

Sure, you could optimize your “bio” to appeal to the widest range of possible candidates, and you’ll probably get a good number of people who are willing to “swipe right.” However, if you set high expectations that don’t match up with reality, you’re unlikely to find that authentic connection you’re looking for. That’s why avoiding a disconnect between employer needs and employee expectations is so crucial to your recruitment marketing strategy.

Common recruitment challenges infographic

The consequences of “catfishing”

We’ve all heard of the term, “catfishing” to describe when someone misrepresents themselves to potential matches online. Well, it happens to new hires as well, and it can lead to a serious drain of talent, money, and resources for companies of all sizes.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a mismatched hire could cost an employer 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings (not to mention the sunk costs of onboarding, lost business opportunities, and stress that understaffing places on the rest of your team), leaving the company with nothing to show for it. High turnover can also be a threat to your brand should a disgruntled review go viral on social media and employment sites.

As a hiring manager, you understand that in a competitive labor market, there is no one quick fix. However, the best place to start is by taking an objective look at your employer brand and ensuring that your proverbial “profile pic” accurately reflects reality.

Truth in advertising

Telling the truth doesn’t mean that you have to air all your dirty laundry in public. It just means that you need to be more deliberate about how your message will be perceived and the type of person you want to attract. What may seem like an inadequacy to some, can be marketed positively to the right candidate.

Let’s look at one common example: benefits. Every company says they have “great benefits” (it’s like the recruiting equivalent of saying, “I like long walks on the beach…”) but what does that really mean? Specifically, what does that mean to your target candidate? To a young parent, it means vacation time, maternity leave, sick time, and childcare. For a single entrepreneurial type, it might mean creative freedom, investment options, educational reimbursement, and a collaborative environment.

Define your ideal candidate, and talk about what matters to them.

Overpromising or being ambiguous will come back to bite you later when you have an unhappy new hire who believes they were misinformed or outright lied to. Perhaps you’re a small company that can’t afford great benefits, but you value a creative flair and offer tons of freedom. Don’t lie about your flaws; just focus on what makes your company an awesome, unique place to work.

Speak to the kind of person who has the talent you need and would appreciate what you DO have to offer. You can’t please everyone, but that’s okay. For the right person, it’ll be a match made in heaven.

Retaining new talent

Throughout the talent marketing and hiring processes, you should look for opportunities to communicate and provide your candidates with the right information at the right time.

Retention efforts need to start before your ideal candidate ever walks through your door then continue throughout onboarding and beyond.

If, for example, during the interview, you promised them great training, make sure you check in later and ensure they’re satisfied. Keep the hiring conversation going during the onboarding process through tools that allow you to send the right message to the right people exactly when they need to see it.

The bottom line is that along with salary, benefits, and a sense of purpose - truthfulness, and transparency are what today’s employees demand in exchange for “company loyalty”. If your talent marketing efforts try to appeal to everyone with overly broad and generic messaging, you may end up appealing to no one.

In short, try to live up to your profile picture.

Want more information? Insight on an existing challenge? An outside perspective on an internal issue? Contact Wicresoft’s full-service Talent Acquisition Services experts, specializing in advisory, solutions, and operations, to improve all aspects of the talent management practice. We will help you get the results you’re looking for, after all, getting results is what we do best.

This blog was written in partnership with Stacey Shaw and Paul Wills, former President of Wicresoft. Updated 4/9/24