Main image of article How 'Shift Shock' Could Impact Your Next Job

Imagine you’re on the job hunt. You researched companies that seemed interesting to you, submitted your applications and resumes, and endured a few interview rounds. One potential employer offered you a pretty good deal—and you accepted it. But when you showed up to work on your first day, the company was very different from what you believed during the application process.

The Muse, which offers job postings and advice, refers to this dichotomy between the candidate’s expectations and the new employee’s reality as “shift shock.” In a late 2022 survey, 72 percent of 2,500 respondents told the website they’d experienced this phenomenon at some point. Moreover, some 29 percent had experienced shift shock about the job and the company simultaneously.

These statistics have broader implications for job candidates and managers in a range of industries, including tech. First and foremost, it creates a morale and retention problem: some 80 percent of respondents told The Muse it was “acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.” Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) would try to get their old job back if they felt shift shock.

But what’s the root cause of shift shock? Although it seems like the “Great Resignation” is losing steam as a buzzword, workers are still making it clear they want certain things out of a job—and they’ll quit if an employer doesn’t deliver. Work-life balance is just one factor that can drive employees out the door: Some 42 percent of 2,363 respondents recently told Dice (via LinkedIn poll) that they would quit if their company issued a return-to-office mandate, while 45 percent would stick around only if a hybrid option (i.e., returning to the office just a few days per week) was offered.

From an employer perspective, transparency about what the job entails (especially during the application and onboarding process) is potentially a big step toward averting shift shock. Making sure workers are happy with their compensation, job description, benefits and perks is another. For example, the most recent edition of Dice’s Tech Salary Report found a significant gap between the benefits that tech professionals have and want; 72 percent of tech pros told the Report that employer-sponsored training and education were important—but only 46 percent received it. As with work-life balance, a gap in desired benefits will compel workers to quit, especially if they thought those benefits would be available once they accepted an employment offer.   

A company’s DEIB program (or lack thereof) can also impact whether a worker experiences something akin to shift shock. As Jacob Little, Glassdoor Senior Head of People Experience and DEI, recently explained during an episode of the “Tech Connects” podcast, Glassdoor noticed that users were joining companies that had high ratings on its platform—but once they arrived at their new employer, they found an unwelcoming environment. Anxious to keep users happy, Glassdoor partnered with Evolution, a coaching, culture, and leadership development firm, on a two-pronged mission: to boost DEI within Glassdoor, and to better infuse DEI principles into the platform itself.

For managers and team leaders who want to retain their tech professionals (and other workers), it’s important to recognize that shift shock is a very real issue. To prevent it, they must ensure how the organization presents itself to the broader world aligns with internal culture and processes.