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ever is said in realistic job previews should de¬nitely be approved at higher
levels, so that managers are all delivering basically the same message in the
best possible way.
To strengthen the RJP process, it is strongly recommended that organi-

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zations faithfully conduct exit interviews or exit surveys that allow departed
employees to make comments. By analyzing exit comments, you can
quickly determine what issues have been glossed over, over-promised, un-
delivered, and misunderstood. These are the issues that need to be more
openly discussed during the pre-employment period.

Engagement Practice 2: Hire from Pool of Temp-to-Hire,
Adjunct Staff, Interns, and Part-Time Workers
As the saying goes, before dyeing the whole cloth, it is best to ¬rst test a
small piece of the cloth. When workers come aboard on a contingency
basis, they have a chance to experience the ups and downs of the job ¬rst
hand before they and the organization have made the commitment to a
full-time relationship. Many of those who wouldn™t ¬t the culture or
would ¬nd it not to their liking can then decide to self-select out. Those
who decide to stay and perhaps take on a full-time role will have gone
through the most realistic job preview of all.

Engagement Practice 3:
Hire from Current Employee Referrals
The research shows that the ¬rst-year turnover rate for employees hired
through employee referrals is signi¬cantly lower than for those hired
through more formal recruiting methods, such as want ads.7 Why? The
main reason is that current employees tend to realistically describe the job
and workplace to those they are referring. They have a vested interest in
maintaining the friendship, and they are generally motivated to minimize
surprises and ˜˜inoculate™™ the referred individual against possible disap-
Many companies have begun the practice of offering attractive mone-
tary incentives or other types of rewards for successful referrals.

Engagement Practice 4: Create a Realistic Job
Description with a Short List of Critical Competencies
When search teams create too long a list of job requirements and compe-
tencies that the ˜˜ideal candidate™™ must have, they are unwittingly narrow-
ing their pool of candidates, since fewer candidates could possibly pass the
screening. They are also laying the groundwork for another problem later
on”that the new hire will not be able to meet the performance expecta-

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

To prevent either of these problems, take care to create a realistic list
of only the ¬ve or six most critical competencies needed for success, prefer-
ably stated as natural, motivated talents, not as technical or knowledge re-
quirements. For example, a successful customer service representative needs
not just the knowledge of the company™s products, but also the natural
ability to not take customers™ anger personally. The more your organization
has done to determine which competencies distinguish top performers
from average performers in various job categories, the easier it will be to
list them.

Engagement Practice 5:
Allow Team Members to Interview Candidates
When those who would work with the new hire as teammates are allowed
to take part in the interviewing process without the manager being present
in the room, they are free to answer the candidate™s questions forthrightly.
Likewise, the candidate is likely to feel less inhibited about asking questions
of peers that might be uncomfortable to ask if the boss were present.
This practice has two added advantages: The ˜˜two-heads-are-better-
than-one™™ factor typically leads to better candidate selection, and it also
creates greater participation and ˜˜buy-in™™ from team members while send-
ing them the message that their opinions count.
All interviewers need to be told up front that they are expected to
provide solid reasons for voting ˜˜yea™™ or ˜˜nay™™ on a candidate. Some
companies assign each interviewer a speci¬c focus area for their question-
ing, such as ¬tting in, technical skills, business acumen, and so on.

Engagement Practice 6:
Hire from Pool of Current Employees
This one is easy to understand. When you hire or promote from within,
you are taking less of a risk of turnover because the inside candidate is
already wise to the ways of the organization. It™s also a great way to increase
morale by encouraging all workers about their career prospects within the
company. However, be advised that, to be on the safe side, you still need
to give current employees the same realistic job preview you would give
to outside candidates.

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Engagement Practice 7:
Create a Way for Candidates to ˜˜Sample™™ on-the-Job
The traditional way of doing this is by asking the candidate a hypothetical
question, such as ˜˜What would you do if an unhappy customer threatened
to go to your manager and complain about your service?™™ An even better
method is to ask a behavioral question, such as, ˜˜This job will frequently
challenge you to deal effectively with unhappy customers. Can you tell me
about a time when you dealt with a particularly unhappy customer and
how you dealt with the situation?™™
Better yet, many companies have begun using CD-ROMs that simul-
taneously test the applicant™s aptitude for the position while also providing
a glimpse of on-the-job realities. Wells-Fargo Bank, for example, requires
bank teller candidates to watch a CD-ROM of an angry customer ap-
proaching to complain about an incorrect account balance, then freeze-
frames the video and asks the candidate to select from among three possible
responses to indicate how they would respond.
After Federal Express realized that 10 percent of ¬rst-time managers
were leaving the company, it began conducting an eight-hour class called,
˜˜Is Management for Me?™™ that aspiring managers must attend before they
can of¬cially become candidates for management positions. During the
class, current FedEx managers speak to the class, realistically describing the
daily challenges of being a manager”the longer hours, increased workload,
and the headaches relating to people management and discipline, plus the
fact that they are never ˜˜off-the-clock.™™ FedEx considers this program a
success, partly because of the 20 percent dropout rate. They believe the
program helps weed out management candidates who would not adapt
well, and who might be motivated to get into management for the wrong
reasons, such as their belief that it is the only way to advance.

Engagement Practice 8: Survey or Interview New Hires
to Find Out How to Minimize New Hire Surprises in the
In recent years many employers have started the practice of having recent
hires complete evaluations of their experiences during the company™s re-
cruiting and new-hire orientation processes. Based on feedback received

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

from written questionnaires, personal interviews, or both, the organization
learns what the new hires were surprised to learn during their ¬rst thirty to
ninety days on the job, what they expected and had not received, and
things that were not discussed in interviews that should have been.
Why wait until after new hires have left to ¬nd out what they were
disillusioned about”better to ¬nd it out while there is still an opportunity
to do something about it.

How Prospective Employees Can Do Their Part
The main thing that a job candidate can do to gain a more realistic under-
standing of the job or workplace is ask questions. Some applicants will ask
questions and others will not. A hiring manager must not wait for job
candidates to ask questions, but should make it clear that all questions are
welcome and that no question will be considered a stupid one. Hiring
managers and everyone on the interviewing team should always invite
more questions”in every job interview with every candidate”even after
giving realistic job previews.
All recruitment materials should also invite candidates to ask questions,
particularly the literature that is used in on-campus recruiting efforts and
any that is distributed to entry-level recruits.
Here are other ways for employees to minimize the potential for disil-
lusionment when starting a new job:

• Make a list of questions to ask before every interview.
• Ask friends and acquaintances what they know about the prospective
• Research the prospective employer on the Internet.
• Ask to be interviewed by employees other than the hiring manager.
• Ask to be given a tour of the facility.
• Consider starting the job as a consultant or temp staffer, if possible,
to gain a better feel for the workplace before making a full-time
• Directly ask everyone with whom you interview, ˜˜Is there anything
about this job, the culture, or the work environment that new hires
are sometimes surprised to ¬nd out after they start?™™

Remember, you will be interviewed in a manner that tells you how
employees are being treated. It is up to you to take or turn down the job,
but at least you™ll know what you™re getting into.

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The Beginning or Ending of Trust
Forging the psychological contract with a new employee in the interview-
ing and orientation phases is fundamentally a matter of establishing trust. If
it is discovered that the employee lied about having a college degree, the
trust is broken. If the employee realizes that the manager lied about how
much travel would be involved in the new job, the opportunity for trust
is lost.
Without trust, there can be no viable working relationship. Without
taking the time and making the effort to establish trust from the start, man-
agers are risking the waste of their most precious asset.

Employer-of-Choice Engagement Practices Review
and Checklist
Review the engagement practices presented in this chapter and check the
ones you believe your organization needs to implement or improve:

To Match Expectations with Reality:
1. Conduct realistic job previews with every job candidate.
2. Make a signi¬cant percentage of hires from pool of temp, adjunct,
and part-time workers.
3. Make a signi¬cant percentage of hires from current employee refer-
4. Create a realistic job description with a short list of most critical
5. Allow candidate™s future coworkers to participate in job interviews.
6. Make a signi¬cant percentage of hires from pool of current em-
7. Build into the interviewing process a way for candidates to gain a
˜˜sample™™ of on-the-job experience.
8. Survey or interview new hires to ¬nd out how to minimize new
hire surprises in the future.

1. ˜˜First Day at Work™™ Report, Reed Company, UK, January 2003.
2. B. L. Brown, ˜˜Career Mobility: A Choice or Necessity?™™ ERIC Digest
No. 191, ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Educa-

The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

tion, Center on Education and Training for Employment, Ohio State
University, Columbus, 1998.
3. Kelly Beamon, ˜˜Just Say No,™™ National Business Employment Weekly,
Employment Briefs, November 24, 1998.
4. Emma Lunn, ˜˜Foibles . . . the First Day,™™ The Guardian, September 29,
5. John Paul Kotter, ˜˜The Psychological Contract: Managing the Joining-
Up Process,™™ California Management Review, Spring 1973.
6. Source: Allstate Insurance, published in Kansas City Star, February 3,
7. Brown, op. cit.


Reason 2:
The Mismatch Between Job
and Person
By treating people with
diverse skills as an
undifferentiated resource
. . . companies forfeit the
chance to make substantial
gains in productivity,
pro¬tability, and personnel

— ”V©« A§·¬

has shown that 80 percent
Research conducted over the last twenty-¬ve years
of workers feel they are not using their strengths on a daily basis.1 We hear
the voices of these workers in the survey comments of both those who left
and those who stayed:

• ˜˜Job functions are boring and monotonous.™™
• ˜˜My job responsibilities are not challenging.™™


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