Jobs and the Future of Work

3 ways to avoid feeling lost in a new job

New research shows 39% of participants across seven countries plan to leave their current positions within the next three to six months.

New research shows 39% of participants across seven countries plan to leave their current positions within the next three to six months. Image: Unsplash/Hunters Race

Eli Joseph
Associate Faculty, Columbia University
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Future of Work

  • With more people on the move than ever before, enabling successful job transitions is more challenging.
  • Employees must learn to grasp new processes, cultures and skills.
  • Organizations can help by customizing work value propositions to individual preferences.

A new role – whether via promotion, a switch to a different company, or taking on a novel task within the existing job – can significantly enhance a person's career. Nevertheless, in today’s highly collaborative and ever-changing professional environment, accomplishing a successful transition is now more challenging compared to the past, even for individuals who are highly skilled and dedicated.

According to a survey from McKinsey’s 2023 State of Organizations report, 33% of employees in nine European countries, 40% of employees in the United States, 45% of employees in the Middle East, and a substantial 60% of employees in India expressed intentions to depart from their current positions. Further findings suggest that 39% of participants across seven countries stated that they plan to leave their current positions within the next three to six months. In Europe, it is indicated that 35% of the individuals who plan to leave their jobs cite unsustainable performance expectations.

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With this rate of turnover, managers and employees often struggle to meet the expectations established by their organizations. It's not just a matter of mastering the tasks; employees also require time to grasp the company's culture, procedures and communication methods. That investment in time, finances and other resources for training a new colleague is squandered if employees depart within six months or a year.

As employees continue to reshuffle, individuals are revising their perspectives towards work – feeling lost in the process. In response, organizations can adapt by customizing employee value propositions to cater to individual preferences. This approach can contribute to bridging the divide between the desires of contemporary workers and the needs of companies. Managing

successful work transitions is vital for both the individual's career advancement and the overall success of the company. Here are three ways to ensure smooth transitions:

1. Understand the company’s processes

When a new role has been established in an organization, there is a possibility that old processes have been replaced by new ones in order to fulfil new strategic objectives that may have arisen due to emerging market trends, technological advancements and new regulations. Whenever a new process is introduced within an organization, it has the potential to influence the morale of the workplace. These new processes can modify task execution, reshape the organizational framework, and in some instances, lead to the removal of responsibilities or positions. Hence, it is vital to assess employee morale before, during and after the implementation of a new process to gauge its overall efficacy.

There are companies that have similar job titles, but these roles carry out different responsibilities depending on the company’s needs. Hence, they may also have new processes that may fit the current needs of the organization. Through communication and proper evaluation, senior managers and the incoming individual must agree when it comes to understanding the company’s past and current processes.

When a new process yields positive outcomes, it tends to foster a positive working environment. Conversely, if the process introduces new challenges that lead to negative morale, the executive team should utilize feedback from employees and front-line managers to assess certain errors and correct it accordingly.


2. Gather information about company culture

Sometimes the issue of being acclimated into the new role does not have to do with an individual’s skills. Cultural fit plays a huge role on how in individual feels comfortable within the company. Future success within a company hinges on the influence that the individual can exert within their new surroundings. Hence, your level of adeptness and comprehension while navigating the new culture will either magnify or impede your overall impact. An understanding of the company culture can also establish an individual’s boundaries in the workplace.

Companies that prioritize both performance and people gain a lasting competitive advantage.
Companies that prioritize both performance and people gain a lasting competitive advantage. Image: McKinsey

One important factor in adapting to company culture is how employees are currently redefining the boundaries between their work and personal lives. McKinsey’s research reveals that employees' work-related preferences – such as flexible scheduling, remote work options, chances for career progression, fulfilling tasks and fair compensation – varies based on factors like age, work history and more. Enterprises that effectively nurture and skillfully oversee their personnel regarding such preferences – the so-called "people and performance winners" – gain a lasting competitive advantage.

3. Reskill and seek continuous training

In a disruptive workplace, not all skills are created equal. Certain skills are not only experiencing swift growth in demand but also extending their influence across a broader range of professions. This impact forces individuals and businesses to reshape the nature of work.

Skills transformation is a must in the modern workplace.
Skills transformation is a must in the modern workplace. Image: PwC

According to PwC’s 2023 Hopes and Fears survey of nearly 54,000 workers across 46 countries and territories, 58% of employees are expected to significantly transform their skills in the next five years. These employees must embrace the journey of continuous learning, letting go of outdated knowledge, while acquiring new ones to enhance abilities and welcome different approaches to work to avoid getting left behind in the job market.

Transitions are a constant occurrence in the workplace. As these changes continue to manifest in industries such as technology, cybersecurity, education, banking, retail and healthcare, it is imperative that managers and employees must be curious and hyper-collaborative in their new roles. These traits will ensure a successive transition between their current and future endeavours.

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