Archive for May, 2012


How much are the “New Job Blues” costing your organization?

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2012 by RWHRMA

The phone rings, and I can see from the Caller ID that it’s a candidate I helped find a new position within the last few weeks.  I can tell you how the conversation will go before I even pick up the phone.   The candidate will beat around the bush a bit and then confide that they’re not sure if they made the right move by leaving their old job.  However, with a few probing questions and a little reading between the lines it always becomes clear that the issue is not the new job, which we both know made sense for their career.   They have a case of what we have come to refer to around our office as “the new job blues” and it will typically clear up within a few weeks.

The “new job blues” doesn’t refer to regrets stemming from legitimate poor career change decisions, but rather to the period of discomfort that occurs when acclimating to a new workplace.  It’s an awkward feeling similar to that of the kid in the lunch room of a new school that is trying to figure out where to sit.  It’s the stiffness of a new pair of shoes.  It’s the pregnant pauses that occur when forced to make small talk with a stranger.  It’s newness and change and most of us don’t like it.  The first few weeks of being the new employee can often feel like a drawn out version of our first meeting with our in-laws.  You’re trying to make a good first impression with everyone you meet while not knowing any of the unwritten rules of the office or getting any of the inside jokes.

Most employees navigate through the two to three weeks of awkwardness and put “the new job blues” in the rearview mirror.  However, what about the ones that don’t make it through?  What is the cost of this churn that happens in the first few weeks, not only in terms of dollars, but in terms of damage to morale?  How much does productivity suffer during this time?  How much more likely is a happy new hire to refer a peer than one that is eating lunch alone in their car?

New hire on-boarding is not a new concept to most of us, but typically this focuses much more on professional orientation then addressing our human need to feel like we fit in.  Having walked many candidates through this adjustment process, I have found the most successful advice I can give is to validate the new hire’s feelings and let them know what they are feeling is normal.  A realtor who sold new luxury homes once told me they had a 10% back out rate due to “buyer’s remorse”, but they were able to bring that down to almost zero by letting the buyers know up front that they were going to wake up the next morning with feelings of doubt and second guessing as a result of making such a major purchase decision.  The realtors gave it a name and began inoculating themselves against the issue with a little preventative education. Perhaps, the adverse effects of “the new job blues” could be lightened by simply letting new employees know the name of the companion they would be sharing their cubicle with for the first few weeks on the job.

Have you dealt with the effects of “the new job blues” in your career?  How have you overcome it?  What are your thoughts on how to make the adjustment easier for others?


Jon Harol, CPC, SPHR

Laboratory Recruiter, Lighthouse Recruiting