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Job shift shock: the trend that intimidates HR professionals

Have you ever felt that you didn't fit in from day one at your new job? Did you feel like you weren't given the space to adjust? Yes, this is job shift shock. Let us explain why this trend isn't something new and how HR professionals can save the day.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

recruitment and retention strategies

Picture Hannah, an experienced marketing specialist with a track record of success, eagerly joining a renowned tech firm. She joins the tech firm filled with hope, but soon encounters a wave of stress and self-doubt. 

She grapples with feelings of being unprepared for the challenges ahead and questions her fit in the new environment. 

This emotional turmoil is the crux of job shift shock. It’s about more than just a mismatch of expectations, it’s about the personal struggle of finding one’s footing in an unfamiliar setting.

What is job shift shock?

Job shift shock, also known as new hire’s remorse, is characterized by the psychological stress and emotional dissonance experienced by individuals transitioning into new roles. 

This stress can stem from feeling unprepared, overwhelmed by new responsibilities, or a sense of cultural misfit. 

It goes beyond the practical aspects of role alignment, delving into the deeper emotional and psychological challenges that come with adapting to a new job environment.

This term, while not historically labeled, has existed for decades, often manifesting as a brief period of adjustment. 

However, in today’s rapidly evolving job market, job shift shock has emerged as a critical issue, impacting not just employee well-being but also organizational stability.

The roots of job shift shock can often be traced to a variety of factors: bad past experiences, misleading job descriptions, a disconnect between the company’s external image and internal reality, or a lack of transparency during the recruitment process. 

72% of employees have experienced job shift shock

The relevance of job shift shock in today’s workforce cannot be overstated. In a rapidly changing job market, where the balance of power is shifting towards employees, understanding and addressing this phenomenon has become crucial for organizations.

A survey by The Muse in 2022 laid bare the extent of this issue: a significant 72% of 2,500 respondents experienced job shift shock, with 29% feeling a misalignment with both the job and the company culture.

These numbers are more than just statistics, they are a clear indication of the changing dynamics in the workplace. 

In an era characterized by the ‘Great Resignation’, employees are increasingly willing to leave jobs that do not align with their expectations or values. 

80% of respondents in the same survey stated it was acceptable to leave a job within six months if it failed to meet their expectations. 

This growing sentiment highlights the urgent need for organizations to proactively address job shift shock, not only to retain their workforce but to foster a positive and productive work environment.

But how do the HR professionals play a pivotal role in all of this? 

It’s the onboarding process that matters

Effective onboarding must be carefully planned and executed. 

It should begin even before the employee steps into the office, with pre-boarding activities like sending out a welcome pack, company information, and setting clear expectations for the first few weeks. Pre-boarding and onboarding are your opportunities to avoid beating around the bush and get to the point.

Show your new employees that you are willing to have them in the company so that you can grow together.

The process should then be continued with structured orientation programs, mentorship initiatives, and regular check-ins. 

By providing a clear understanding of the company’s values, expectations, and culture, the onboarding process can significantly reduce the occurrence and impact of job shift shock, ensuring a smoother transition for new hires.

Related: Preboarding: what makes it different from onboarding?

Use tools so you can focus on the real value

In an era where technology is increasingly ingrained in our work lives, leveraging platforms like Workable for onboarding can be a game-changer. 

Workable is not just a tool for recruitment, it’s a comprehensive platform that facilitates a seamless and engaging onboarding experience. By automating the mundane and time-consuming aspects of the onboarding process, Workable allows HR professionals and managers to focus on the human element of welcoming a new employee.

Workable’s features include customizable onboarding checklists, document management, and automated task assignments, which ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. 

Additionally, Workable provides analytics and feedback tools, allowing HR teams to continuously refine their onboarding processes based on real data and employee feedback.

This technology-driven approach not only streamlines administrative tasks but also creates a more personalized and engaging experience for new hires, further reducing the risk of job shift shock.

Continuous improvement mindset

As we look towards the future, it’s clear that addressing job shift shock is integral to the broader conversation about employee engagement and retention. 

The onboarding process is just the starting point of an ongoing journey of employee development and integration. 

Companies need to adopt a continuous improvement mindset, seeking feedback and making regular adjustments to their onboarding and overall HR strategies.

Ultimately, the question remains: How will your organization evolve its strategies to address the ever-changing dynamics of the modern workforce and reduce the incidence of job shift shock?

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