Disappointments and Unmet Expectations: Understanding Employee Turnover


In our recent studies on hiring dynamics, we’ve delved into why employees stay in a job long-term and why many leave within the first year. A brief Google search reveals eye-opening statistics on this topic:

  • Approximately 25% of all new hires leave their jobs within the first 12 months. In some industries, this number can be even higher, sometimes exceeding 100%.
  • About 73% of resignations stem from dissatisfaction with the current job rather than the pursuit of new opportunities.
  • Replacing an employee costs, on average, 150% of their annual salary, considering both direct and indirect expenses.

These facts highlight significant aspects of employee behavior and their consequences, emphasizing the importance of understanding and managing employee expectations.

Source: SHRM Better Workplaces on a Budget Recommendations 2019, Betterworks, etc…

Why Employees Stay and Why They Leave

Employees tend to stay in their jobs due to three main factors:

  1. Bonding with colleagues and the company.
  2. Opportunities for growth and development.
  3. A sense of contribution and purpose.

Conversely, the primary reasons employees leave are:

  1. Unmet expectations.
  2. Frustrations.
  3. Disappointments.

The Gap in Onboarding Policies

Most companies have onboarding policies aimed at integrating new hires into the organization. These policies typically focus on how well new hires understand the job and perform their tasks. However, they often overlook a crucial aspect: how well the job aligns with the new hire’s expectations. Forbes.com recommends focusing on Role Definition, Goal Setting, Performance Indicators, and Work Culture during the new hire’s first week. Yet, unmet expectations remain the main reason why 25% of new hires leave within 12 months. It’s clear that a deeper exploration of expectations is needed.

Unmet Expectations: The Energy Drainers

A disappointment or energy drainer occurs when life circumstances don’t match expectations. The equation is simple:

Energy Drainer(ED)=Life Circumstances(LC)≠Expectations(E)

In other words: When faced with an energy drainer or disappointment, there are only two ways to address it:

  1. Change the circumstances.
  2. Adjust the expectations.

We all know that adjusting expectations or “live with it!” do not last long.

Managerial Strategies to Address Expectations

As a manager, addressing unmet expectations is critical. Here are some strategies to ensure new hires’ expectations align with their job roles:

  1. Explore New Hire Expectations: Shift focus from the company’s expectations to the new hire’s expectations. Ask new hires to list their five most important expectations for their new job. Give them time to prepare and follow up every two weeks for the first few months.
  2. Identify and Fulfill Needs: Understand the new hire’s needs and ensure the job can meet them. For instance, if a new hire needs freedom, they should be placed in a role where they, to some extend, make their own decisions.
  3. Leverage Talents: Identify the new hire’s talents and ensure they can use them in their new job. For example, a new hire with a talent for communication should have opportunities to utilize this talent, or they may lose motivation and engagement.
  4. Regular One-on-One Meetings: Insist on one-on-one meetings every 2-3 weeks. Never cancel these meetings and use a fixed agenda to focus on the new hire’s expectations and motivation in relation to the individuals needs and talents.


Managing expectations is crucial in retaining new hires. By focusing on understanding and aligning with their expectations, identifying their needs and talents, and maintaining regular, structured communication, managers can reduce turnover and build a more committed, motivated team.

Hiring the best people and keeping them as long as possible is hard work.

Motivation Factor® enables you to identify what to pursue and where to focus your energy so you can boost your motivation.

Imagine if you knew exactly what motivates you and your staff. Motivation Factor helps to verbalize your vision – and provides you with the tools and structure to work professionally with your motivation and/or your employees’ motivation.

Motivation and research

Recent brain research tells us that our motivation is rooted in our individual needs and talents. When it comes to personal change and the development processes, it is essential to focus on what drives you towards the goal, and it is equally important to know what to avoid in order to stay motivated. With this knowledge, you can maintain determination and focus along with motivation and willingness to adapt. Learn more about Motivation Factor tools and programs here.

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