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How to Reduce Turnover: Put the R Back in RJP (Realistic Job Preview)

December 12, 2017


Working at Select International has a number of perks - one of them being the opportunity to interact and get involved with individuals from several different organizations. Each of these organizations has its own unique set of challenges, some more organizationally-specific than others. However, recently there have been some consistent pain points emerging from our clients across industries. Specifically, as unemployment rates continue to remain low many organizations are experiencing two primary issues:

  1. A Battle for Top Talent. Low unemployment rates means that the majority of individuals in the workforce have jobs and there are a limited number of available applicants. As such, organizations are struggling to fill their open positions and more and more organizations are finding themselves in a battle for top talent.

  2. High Turnover Rates. Again, because there are many organizations trying to fill open roles, there are A LOT of employment opportunities available to individuals (including current employees). Organizations who are not employers of choice might find themselves losing their best employees to more attractive competitors.

In other words, not only are organizations competing for talent in the available applicant pool, they are also trying to retain their talent. There are several reasons why someone may quit or accept a job, but one major factor surrounds the notion of fit.

Job Fit and Organizational Fit

Fit can take a variety of forms, but the most prevalent are job fit and organizational fit. That is, how well is the individual suited for the role in question (job fit) and how compatible is the individual with the organization (organizational fit)? Do their values, goals, and expectations align with those of the job/organization? If a high level of congruence exists between the individual and the job and organization they are likely to be well suited for the role and will be more likely to accept an offer and to stick around. But how do prospective employees evaluate whether or not they will “fit” in the job and/or organization in question?

One option is to measure fit with an assessment. That is, we can evaluate the job or organization in question and develop an assessment to measure traits that would align with the tasks and responsibilities necessary for success in the role, as well as assess cultural fit with the organization. Organizations can then select the candidates who are deemed to be the “best fit”.

However, prospective employees will often make these fit judgments on their own before even making it to the assessment stage of the selection process. They do this by evaluating the information that is available to them through the selection process or other research they engage in independently. Because we know that individuals are seeking out this type of information, many organizations have adopted the practice of creating Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) to provide an overview of what to expect to prospective employees.

Realistic Job Previews

RJPs will often include the following:

  • Specific information about the job requirements and duties

  • The environment that the individual will be working in

  • Other information surrounding the organization’s culture

The goal of implementing an RJP is to provide an accurate portrayal of the job and organization in question. This typically requires providing both the pros and cons of the role. However, as mentioned earlier, organizations are struggling to fill roles and keep their roles filled. In this type of economic climate, it is understandable that these organizations want to showcase the positive aspects of the job and the great perks offered in an effort to boost job acceptance rates, and ultimately, their workforce. So, lately, it seems as if the RJPs have lost their R and are simply job previews that only include the pros.

Related: Warning: This Job is Not Perfect (Realistic Job Previews can Help)

While this strategy may seem to make sense if the goal is to increase the number of prospective employees who accept job offers, it has a serious negative impact when it comes to the turnover side of the coin. Specifically, if the job is painted in rose-colored glasses, once candidates accept and are in the role, they may be in for a rude awakening. For example, a manufacturing organization's RJP may have showcased their amazing break room with fancy recliners and a snack bar, but failed to mention the fact that you only get to use that room for five minutes per day and are required to be on your feet working in a hot factory for the remainder of the time. [Okay, that might be a bit extreme, but you get the point.]

This is why it is Crucial to put the "R" Back in "RJPs"

This is more important now than ever. If we provide a truly realistic preview of the job, then the prospective employees will have an accurate idea of what they are getting into and be able to decide if the role is right for them. Further, once on the job, these employees will be faced with far fewer surprises. This should result in lower turnover rates among employees which would ultimately improve the status of the organization. 

So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to implement an RJP that showcases all of the great things about your organization, be sure to be honest and balance it out with the not-so-great aspects of the job or organization so you don’t find yourself in a situation where the majority of your newly hired workforce quits. Trust us, you'll want to keep the "R" in RJP! You can get started with these 5 Tips for Creating a Realistic Job Preview that will Reduce Turnover.

High-Volume Hiring in a Tight Labor Market

Alli Besl, Ph.D. Alli Besl, Ph.D. was a Research Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. Her areas of expertise include: employee turnover, selection and recruitment.