An employee who has been here only three months just quit. In his exit interview, he said there wasn’t enough work to do within his department, and he was bored, so he looked to move on. I asked why he hadn’t applied for any number of open positions we have. He said he didn’t because his manager said he couldn’t change jobs when he’d been here less than a year. This is true. Is this a policy we should keep?
This type of policy is pretty standard, and many companies have 18-month or two-year restrictions before an employee can post out of a job.
This is for a good reason. You hire people because you need them to do a specific job. If they immediately look to leave, the original hiring manager will be out of luck. You want to hire people who will be happy in the offered job — at least for a couple of years. And, in theory, they should need that time to prepare for the next step.
Situations like this tell you a bit about what’s going on in this employee’s former department, and so you’ll want to tackle that before you tackle policy. It could be a fluke; everyone makes hiring errors. And sometimes work is just tedious.
Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, no matter how much we want it to be. That’s why we call it work — sometimes the boring things have to get done, and that’s why you hired this person. It could be that no sane person would find these tasks interesting. But, chances are, there are good aspects of this job, and either there was a lack of communication, inadequate training or an overwhelmed manager who did everything herself rather than training her new staff.
Here’s how you can fix the underlying problem before taking a look at your policy.
Did the job description used for recruiting and hiring reflect the actual position, or was it a sales document trying to convince candidates that this was the best job ever? Or perhaps it was something someone (no one knows who now) typed up in 2007, and it got recycled every time the position was vacant?
Was the job interview a two-way conversation between the hiring manager and the candidate, or was it an interrogation of the candidate? If it was the latter, it wouldn’t be easy for a candidate to determine if this job was a good fit. The hiring manager leaves these types of interviews knowing a lot, and the candidates often are clueless. Lots of people think this is how managers should conduct interviews, but it can result in mismatches.
Make sure your job descriptions are accurate (even if that means admitting there are unpleasant and dull parts) and that your managers have conversations and allow candidates to ask questions.
Does your company have a formal onboarding program? Do new hires find it helpful? Are computers, desks and other tools ready for the new hire on the first day, or do they find themselves twiddling their thumbs while waiting for IT to find them a laptop?
Who is responsible for new-hire training? In lots of companies, each position is unique, so it’s up to the manager to handle this. But is the manager prepared for this? Even if the job is unique, chances are the software isn’t. Could you send the new employee to an outside training? Could a peer be the primary trainer rather than the manager? How is the documentation for this position?
Fixing any one of these could lessen the chance of boredom in the first few weeks or months at work.
Is the manager so busy doing everything that she doesn’t have time to train the new hire? The new hire is bored while the manager runs around like crazy with too much to do. She thinks she can’t take a break because then things won’t get done. But if she could slow down for a little bit and hand over some of the work, everyone would be better off.
If this is the case, you need a culture change. Everyone needs to understand that the new hire needs to be a priority. You need this person — that’s why you hired him. So make sure managers have the time they need to focus on bringing the new person up to speed.
Should you change your policy?
Without knowing the ins and outs of your business, my general answer is no. Employees need to do the work you hired them to do before moving on — whether in a lateral move or a promotion. That doesn’t mean you can’t make exceptions. If you hire a junior accountant who learns like lightning and is fabulous, and a senior position opens up, sure, promote her early. But if you hire a junior accountant and she immediately posts for a marketing position, that’s a sign of a bad hire or a dreadful manager.
Keep these as general guidelines and encourage employees to come to you if they have problems with their positions. Often you can solve problems through better communication and precise training.
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