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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kiernan

How Inaccurate Job Descriptions Make New Hires Wish They Never Applied at All

Updated: Jan 10

Inaccurate job descriptions can have a domino effect of negative consequences.

Here's how inaccurate job descriptions can give employees "buyer's remorse" from the start and hurt company culture, retention, and reputation.

Have you ever purchased something and immediately regretted your decision? I have. The feeling of regret overwhelms you with negative thoughts in line with statements like- “I should have known better”… “I knew this sounded too good to be true”. These are things you do NOT want new hires thinking during their first few days at your organization.

Meme about job descriptions not matching reality

The onboarding phase is critical to retention of top talent. According to SHRM up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days. If onboarding is done right 69% of employees are likely to stay with the company for at least 3 years. A successful onboarding experience all starts with setting the right expectations of what the employee’s role will be with the company and how they will be contributing to the strategic mission of the organization.

Unfortunately, many companies underestimate the significance of precise job descriptions, leading to a domino effect of poor onboarding experiences, low employee engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately high turnover rates. Here are some of the ways inaccurate job descriptions may be negatively affecting your onboarding experience.

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Set Unrealistic Expectations with New Hires

Often when a new hire comes in there is this sense of euphoria - they are excited to be with your company, contribute to the organization, and perform the job they understood they would be performing from the job description. However, that euphoria can die pretty quickly when the candidate realizes the job isn’t what they expected.

Obviously, this was not the intention of hiring managers and HR professionals- in many cases the job description just fell out of date. But that shift from positive to negative can be powerful and leave the new hire wondering if they made a mistake.

As a result, employees might feel overwhelmed or underutilized, leading to frustration and disengagement from the outset. wrote a whole article in 2023 on what employees should do when this happens - and a lot of the steps include preparing/looking for another job.

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Setup a Poor Onboarding Experience

According to a study done this year (2023) by Fortune in conjunction with Paychex- 80% of new hires who receive poor onboarding experience plan to quit. 80%!

The bar is high to provide an exceptional onboarding experience. If done incorrectly, so are the costs. According to BambooHR subpar onboarding can cost up to 200% of an employee’s salary. That’s not a stat to have the CFO bring to the table during a leadership meeting.

Having a job description that accurately communicates the role requirements, culture, and employee’s place in the company’s overall strategy is the first step to a positive onboarding experience.

Frustrated employee

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Contribute to Low Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

In the same survey from BambooHR 52% of employees who had an ineffective onboarding experience felt negatively about the company as a whole. Conversely, 89% of employees who had an effective onboarding were engaged at work.

When employees discover discrepancies between their expectations and the reality of the job, their engagement and satisfaction levels naturally suffer. A disengaged workforce is less likely to be committed to their tasks, leading to decreased productivity and subpar performance.

Moreover, employees who feel misled by inaccurate job descriptions are less likely to have a positive perception of the organization, affecting overall employee morale.

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Contribute to Reduced Retention Rates

Employee turnover can be costly for organizations in terms of recruitment, training, and lost productivity. Based on the US median salary of just over $70k organizations could spend up to $140k per role to backfill those roles based on turnover.

Inaccurate job descriptions can result in employee dissatisfaction and disillusionment, leading to a higher likelihood of turnover and higher expenses for the organization. When employees realize that their actual role does not align with the promises made during the hiring process, they may seek new opportunities that better suit their expectations.

This loop becomes a vicious cycle of increasing costs between expenses lost on the onboarding and development of the new hire and new costs as the process restarts with another candidate. In addition, it erodes company morale as other employees notice the high turnover.

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Impact Company Culture

A high turnover rate due to inaccurate job descriptions can have a detrimental impact on company culture. According to Harvard Business Review, concerns from dysfunctional teams and poor leadership are 2 of the top 3 contributors to a negative reputation.

In addition to poor morale, a bad company reputation can cost at least 10% more per hire. Frequent departures disrupt team dynamics, leading to decreased collaboration and trust among team members.

A weakened company culture can affect overall employee satisfaction and the organization's ability to attract and retain top talent in the future.

Inaccurate Job Descriptions Lead to Legal and Ethical Concerns

Inaccurate job descriptions can lead to legal and ethical issues. When job responsibilities deviate significantly from what was advertised, employees might feel that their rights have been violated, leading to potential legal disputes. The employee could initiate a wrongful termination lawsuit, potentially costing the company thousands in fines.

Inaccurate job descriptions can also result in compensation professionals experiencing difficulty with achieving pay equity initiatives. If an employee succeeds in a equal pay discrimination claim they are entitled to compensation consisting of back pay and damages. Depending on the country, some of these awards can be up to 5 or 6 years or more from the date the proceedings were filed.

Additionally, misrepresenting job requirements can lead to underqualified candidates being hired, affecting the organization's efficiency and performance.

Make Job Description Management Part an Integral Part of your Talent Strategy

Keeping job descriptions up to date and accurate requires a team effort and exceptional communication between internal stakeholders and HR team members. Although it can feel mundane, job description management is critical to ensuring an exceptional onboarding experience. After all, it is our organization's first impression to potential new hires - nail it every time.

Mosh JD can help take HR teams from chaos to clarity. Visit Mosh JD today to learn more and request a demo.



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