How Long Does it Take An Employee to Be Fully Productive? 

In the last few weeks, we’ve had several articles on the costs of hiring a new employee. Companies need to focus more on employee retention because the costs of replacing an employee add up quickly.
Remember, the costs are not simply limited to recruitment. You can save thousands on recruitment simply by hiring Recruit Shop. But you also have to account for the lost productivity and training that go into hiring a new employee and, even after all of the training is done, statistics on when an employee is most productive are not friendly towards employers.

Employees Take a Long Time to Acclimate

Very few new hires work their hardest and best right away. In fact, according to an article in Training Industry Quarterly, it takes at least 1 to 2 years before an employee is “fully productive”. That means that even after an employee has been hired, they may not be as productive as the previous employee for 2 years. You’ll be losing out on potential value for months to years after your previous employee has left.

Why Does it Take So Long to Adjust?

Employers often think that a new hire will adjust quickly once they’ve been brought on staff. The general assumption is that all the employee needs is some training, and suddenly they’ll be experts at their job. Yet no matter how much experience someone has coming in to the new position, adjustment is going to take a great deal of time:

  • Time spent getting acclimated and understanding their first tasks.
  • Time spent asking questions and trying to figure out where things are.
  • Time spent feeling uncomfortable about whether they’re doing their job right.

There is time being shy before openly talking to co-workers, time being unsure about the products and services of the company, time spent figuring out what to do. It’s not all the employee either, as after any new hire it’s not uncommon for the employer to struggle to figure out the best role for them and how to maximise their talents. Sometimes weeks are passed with an employee doing very little because no one can figure out what they should do next.
There are countless reasons that employees take a long time to adjust. But no matter the specific cause, the time it takes a new employee to be at their peak productivity is much longer than most employers believe.

What This Means For Your Business

Your business’s goal is to maximise your ROI. When it comes to employees, there are traditionally two very important parts to making sure you get the most from the money you invest in your employees:

  • Hire the Right People
  • Keep Those People

Recruit Shop can help you with the first. But once you have those new employees, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re keeping them around, because the costs of losing that employee can affect your business for years to come.

34 replies
  1. Sad
    Sad says:

    I have been in my new job for only 9 days, and my manager expects me to remember and be able to perform the job right away. I have been working from 9 to 12 hours a day, and she never say anything to encourage me but the blaming. I even have a serious anxiety to go to work. 🙁

    • Change
      Change says:

      I feel the same way. I just got over the 6 month mark and I still feel there is a lot I don’t know. I never get feedback and if I feel I’ve done something right, I never get any encouragement or positive feedback. It’s nice to hear your doing your job well from time to time, although my boss isn’t the type of person to give good graces to anyone. I feel there are a lot of people in our position, and employers are wondering why employees jump from job to job.

      • Sue Forrest
        Sue Forrest says:

        A really late response, some six months later – I hope things are moving along better for you now. The big problem that I have seen as a constant is that the first six months are the most important, yet the most neglected. I always make sure that I have a robust induction plan in place, one on one support with a catch up meeting each week for the first month (extending out to less frequent as time goes on) so that there is full focus – otherwise feedback, if any is just a fly away comment and provides little context or opportunity for a discussion. This process involves two way feedback – it is not a meeting to discuss how the employee is ‘working out’, it is for the supervisor and the employee to talk about how things are going, where further assistance is required, what is working and what is not and how to adjust to rectify those issues. This is as much about the supervisor acclimatising to the new employee as it is for the employee acclimatising to the workplace. This is a lot of effort, but well worth it, employees are more engaged and productivity and values are sustained way past the probation/induction period. It is well worth remembering new hires are a new set of eyes that can bring so much growth into the business. What I would recommend is that you be proactive and request a regular meeting in a bid to seek feed back and so that you can ask more questions in areas that you may be stuck. You could even ask if your supervisor would be willing to be your mentor, this will put more focus on your relationship. Perhaps you can take my advice when you become the person that needs to train or supervise new employees in the future 🙂

    • Deborah Dietrich
      Deborah Dietrich says:

      Upset and Unjust
      I left a job I had been doing for 7 months because there was not enough work to do.I got a job offer closer to my home for more money. I took the job.Mined you have have a lot of experience in the field I am in. The first week was great. The second week they throwing everything at me and by the end of the third week I was called into the bosses office and told I was not up to speed and they were going to have to let me go. It stinks and I feel I was not given enough time to get up to speed. Now I am unemployed again . Not liking it!!!!! the working world is just not fair!!!! It is upsetting and unjust.

      • Cyndi
        Cyndi says:

        Know that what happened is not your fault!! Most managers that I have known at numerous companies do not know how to manage or mentor! The business culture nowadays is a throw away proposition. You never know what you’re going to get when you accept that offer. Just listen to your gut in the interview process, ask those questions & hope for the best!

      • Kmonster
        Kmonster says:

        First of all I feel for you. It probably was not your fault. A lot of employers have a very immature view of what a new hire goes through. This can be especially worse if you are hired through a head hunter. The working manager/super may have unrealistic expectations. This can be a big issue if your manager and coworkers have been working a system from day one. They know everything and think everything is simple. Combine this with the skeleton staff most places run and there can be little support for a new hire. Employers are quick to throw you in the deep end. They keep the swimmers and fire the others. Yes the working world is cruel and poorly run. I hope you can find a good fit one day.

      • Violet
        Violet says:

        Hello. I’ve been working for a company for 15years. Got fired. And now, I’m starting a new job training today! It’s very hard to start over when you have been doing the same job for 15years!

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      That’s discouraging. I’m starting a new job too. Been there 2 weeks 1 day training. The girl that trained me, overlaps the last hour and makes me feel like a ding a ling and she’s very rude. Good luck! Let’s keep our stick on the ice 😊

  2. DC
    DC says:

    Upset and feel like a Failure
    I started a new job only one month ago. I really thought this was going to be my dream job and could see myself here for many years. My first week consisted of the normal, onboarding, introductions, meetings and training (which was mostly reviewing a manual created for my role – no real hands on). Into the second week I was shadowing the person I was replacing and although she was fairly thorough, she went really fast so it was difficult to take notes and recall. By the end of the 2nd week, I was starting to do light work on my own and through week three and most of week four (with one day completely out because of an offsite all day meeting), I was left to my own devices. The whole time I was working through these tasks, I knew I was not at my fullest yet mostly because of the amount of time that had passed, yet the workload kept piling up. My boss and I had a meeting to discuss and he advised me this was temporary and would ease soon when a second person was hired but that I was doing a good job. He did mention to be mindful of the SLA’s and to try and stay within them. As I continued to push on, I felt like things were taking a turn for the worse as work kept mounting despite busting my hump every day, even working late to try and keep up as best I could. Then, on that Friday in my fourth week, I got a feeling something was very wrong. All day, it appeared as though I was being ignored and made to feel outcasted by the team. My team had a meeting that morning where my boss said: “No man is an island on this team and I don’t want anyone to feel that way, we are a team and need to work together as one team”. I felt someone better after the meeting but noticed for the remainder of the day my boss kept darting in and out of one of the empty offices shutting the door and having conversations with others that just gave me an uneasy feeling. Finally, 4:30pm came and everyone jumped up and ran into a conference room. Was there a meeting I missed? No, I was not invited and shortly after having returned from the restroom was cornered in the hallway by my boss who said: “Do you have a quick minute”. We went into an office where I was promptly told that today was my last day as they felt like I was just not ramping up quick enough and there had been some errors made that were brought to their attention by other managers in the company. I was completely blindsided. When asked how this could happen, the response I received was “we thank you for your work over the last four week but we have made this decision in the best interest of the company. And that was that. I was asked to gather my things, hand in my badge and leave the building. So taking all this into consideration, I had a total of 18 days in which I was actually working on my own and I wasn’t ramping up fast enough? How can any company expect to reach that kind of decision in only 18 days? I feel like such a failure having tried so hard and felt I gave it everything I had and even went above and beyond to try and expedite the learning curve, yet I was just cast to the street like yesterdays trash. I keep asking myself what was it I did that made this happen and was there something I could have done to prevent it. Was this my fault, or was there something else going on that I was not privy to? I will never know and now have to start my career search over again with this mightly ego blow. Also, I had passed up another job offer to take this one too, so that of course didnt help me feel any better. I hope I can bounce back from this.

  3. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I have started a job and been there 12 days. I’m trying my upmost but there are so many processes to learn. I take notes where I can and it is all so consuming, overwhelming and frankly very hard. I do have one to one training and it is very fast paced. My trainer, I feel is doing his best and I have been thrown into the deep end and the expectations of the company are that I need to be up to speed take calls, follow processes fill the rebroke forms, advise and follow compliance/scripts all at the same time. I feel there has been little room to process the learning and when one thing is completed, I must grasp move on to the next.
    It’s been a painful journey so far, and because of the pressure felt, I am now going backwards and struggling to take on board the learning, working. I know the management probably now regret hiring me, and I feel I am literally surviving hour to hour. I am disappointed in myself and the company and I’m trying to hang in until I at least get my first pay, as I’m worried if I leave I will not receive anything. I have always worked well in previous customer services roles but this is something else. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not suitable for them, or they’re not suitable for me, but I think the trainer must be exasperated with me. This no longer feels like training but an ordeal, and I feel I’ve forgotten the little bits I had learnt and am all over the place. Do u have any advise? The insurance consultant job had stated in their job spec that no experience in insurance was necessary as long as you have banking/customer services experience they would train you, which I have. I think they’ve got it wrong as the role seems to require highly experienced competent fast pace which I simply do not, at this early stage am equipped or can maintain. Just tooo much 😬☹️

  4. Suwe
    Suwe says:

    I have completed almost two months and they expect me to know things without being told. The person who had trained me had issues with my boss and was always criticizing. I kept an open mind and tried to adjust but feel that the others were kind of ignoring me and making me feel like an outsider. I am new to the country and the culture. I feel left out.

  5. Logan-Manzer Jennifer
    Logan-Manzer Jennifer says:

    I really like this article you wrote, it totally strikes home for me. Thank you for the reminder it takes time to be fully productive – my gut feelings on this tells me since 2007 when “Social Media and On Line Jobs” became available – people are disposable and replaced no matter what the cost. I worked at a company for 10 years and I was still learning, this never stops – people need to be patient and not expect everything in the first 1 year or 2 – and be kind to everyone while they are learning.

  6. Chris
    Chris says:

    I really feel bad reading all of these horror stories. I actually looked this up as a manager to see if I was spending enough time with my new hire. I have trained and hired people that are awesome I could not do my job without them. As a manager each time I train I look at new methods and what works for each trainee. I have devoted 4 hours a day to my newest employee and was trying to make sure that was enough when I came across this article. For those who have been slighted and blamed in your positions, my deepest apologies. As a manager all my employees mistakes are my mistakes! I try to give my employees as much time as they need to acclimate and the truth is they don’t start feeling comfortable until about a year. Everything I know I teach them I do not hold anything back they should be able to pick up where I leave off and vice versa. When things get to hectic I jump in and help them with daily tasks until we are all back on track. We have group work days where we all gather our stuff at one big table and each of us works together to keep up to speed with the other. I also never stop training and giving them the opportunities for suggestions to make us more efficient as a team. I am truly proud of my team and could not do my job without them. It is a shame that most managers don’t realize that helping train your staff properly only makes them that much better and valuable to the organization.

  7. Sandie
    Sandie says:

    I was a new hired on at Kent’s Market for the deli department I work one day doing just cleaning the next day I worked at the deli counter. Had four hours training had no Idea what to do the man that trained me was very cold and really did not explain a lot if I made a mistake instead of showing me the right way he just did it himself did not want to that time to show me. The next day I went in to work the supervisor told me I was to slow to do the job how can you be to slow with the training they gave me.I am 68 years young maybe my age had something to do with it just was not right or fair on how I was treated.

  8. Tinashe
    Tinashe says:

    I have been on my new job for 3 weeks now, this being the 4th and my employer without any training whatsoever told me to calculate the Bonus for the year for the employees and not only that , prepare the payroll for the month of december and do all the calculations thereof. I am a professional in the field but this is just a new system altogether , i need time to understand the system they use and all. The workload is just devilish i should run the whole HR Dept by myself and Manage the Logistics department aswell. This is just torture and unfair like i dont mind doing all that, i consented to it ofcourse but atleast someone should shadow me for atleast a month or two while i learn. Some bosses can be terrible i tell you

  9. Jess
    Jess says:

    Corporate job 1st day training (end of ALL training to be had), 2nd day do my job, 3rd day let go for learning to slow. (true story).
    I couldn’t imagine the cost towards companies. Let’s face it high turnover = loss of money.

  10. Exasperated
    Exasperated says:

    I’ve have been on both sides of the training. In my last job, it took me 6-18 months to get comfortable with the new tasks I wasn’t familiar with. Because I wasn’t new at the company, my supervisor expected me to grasp everything within days, she expected a lot of me which was why I was moved to her department. 80% of the job was foreign to me and I felt like a brand new employee again.
    Now I’m doing the training at a different company, and even though the new hire knows a lot and is in fact helping, I get frustrated at having to explain myself so many times, and double check their work, (at their request).
    I try to remember how long it took me to learn, but I don’t have time to take away from my responsibilities to shadow them on theirs. “Holding hands” wasn’t part of the job description

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