The honeymoon phase of a new job is getting shorter and shorter. Just 38% of new employees who have worked at a company for less than six months plan to stay at their organization for three or more years, according to a recent report from Qualtrics. That percentage is slightly smaller for frontline workers, 34% of whom say the same.
According to the report, 65% of new hires say they’re highly engaged with their job, a 1% decrease from the year prior, compared to 68% of longer-tenured employees. Sixty-six percent of new hires say they feel included at their company, a 4% drop from the year prior, compared to 73% of all other employees.
In the past, the employee experience looked like a U-shaped curve, where new and long-tenured employees both had more positive experiences and engagement than other workers.
“This year, we saw a pretty dramatic departure from that,” says Qualtrics’ chief workplace psychologist Benjamin Granger. “Instead of seeing a U-shaped relationship, we saw more of a hockey stick, where the new hire attitudes were lower than the overall average, which is not something we had seen before.”
While Granger says his team hasn’t definitively pinpointed why new employees are becoming so quickly jaded, he’s identified two hypotheses that most strongly explain the trend. First, as employers raised salaries to keep up with competitive wages, workers accepted new jobs offering higher pay or more lucrative benefits, only to discover they didn’t like the role attached to the salary.
The second hypothesis is that organizations are spending far less time onboarding employees than on talent recruitment. By their own account, HR leaders have deprioritized the onboarding experience. While 50% of people executives say talent attraction and hiring are a top priority, just 41% say the same for onboarding, according to a separate Qualtrics survey of HR executives.
Other data points echo a similar sentiment. Recent insights from Korn Ferry found that employees who left within the first six to twelve months cited feeling out of sync with the company’s culture or mission, didn’t understand their impact, and discovered their responsibilities were not as advertised.
It’s imperative that HR and talent management teams treat the hiring and onboarding process as sister experiences, ensuring that whatever red-carpet treatment candidates receive in the recruiting process continues once they become employees. Managers should also be familiar with the organization’s onboarding process.
“It’s frequently surprising how often we run into large organizations that don’t have an ongoing dialogue between those two groups,” says Granger. “A really simple starting point is making sure that the teams responsible for new hire onboarding, especially for high-volume roles, thread messaging that [new employees] hear before they even apply.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com