Have you heard of shift shock? It’s one of the latest workplace trends that is getting a lot of attention online. People are talking about it on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and in the forums. As a result, it’s a topic that our healthcare recruiters and I have caught wind of. 

The shift shock trend is in alignment with other trends we’ve written about on our recruitment blog – quiet quitting, quiet hiring, and lazy girl jobs. Below, I’ll dive into this trend, explore what it is and discuss how to avoid and prevent it from happening. 

What is Shift Shock?

Shift shock is the realization that your new job is not what you thought it would be when you signed the employment contract. It happens when new employees (usually Gen Z or young workers) start a new job and experience a disconnect between their expectations of a job and reality. The role is different than what you were led to believe during the recruitment process. 

Shift Shock Survey

A survey by Muse is gaining tracking online because of the significant findings about this trend. The survey found:

  • 72% of respondents said they’ve experienced shift shock
  • 29% said their shift shock included the job and company

What is even more alarming for employers is that many people would consider quitting very quickly after getting hired:

  • 80% of the respondents said it’s acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it doesn’t live up to your expectations
  • 41% would give a new job two to six months if they felt shift shock
  • 48% would try to get their old job back if they felt shift shock 

How to Avoid Shift Shock?

Shift shock is something that neither an employee nor an employer wants to experience. It’s a losing proposition for both parties. Here are some things that candidates can do to avoid experiencing shift shock when taking on a new role:

  • Give careful thought and consideration before agreeing to take on a new job
  • Set clear expectations of what you want during the interview process
  • Ask lots of questions – don’t leave things open for interpretation
  • Extensively research the employer. Read up about them on Glassdoor, LinkedIn and other sites. 

If you experience shift shock once you start, give it some time. Work in the role for a few weeks and evaluate the role and company. See if your poor first impression wears off over time. Often, you’ll need some time before you fully understand a new role and company. 

If you are still experiencing shock after some time, weigh the pros and cons and have a conversation with your manager. They may be able to help you ramp up and integrate better into company culture. 

How Can Employers Prevent Shift Shock?

When you have an employee experiencing shift shock, you are faced with a situation where you’ll lose them and have to hire to fill the role again. Not ideal. Here are some ways you can prevent this situation from occurring:

  • Avoid trying to sell top candidates on the job – avoid sugarcoating things
  • Write accurate job descriptions – Don’t leave out important details
  • Be upfront and honest about the details of the job during the interview process
  • Discuss the challenges of the role
  • Have a strong onboarding process
  • Offer new hires the support and resources they need to be successful

A Final Word On Shift Shock

Shift shock is not a new concept. There have been many people who take new roles and they are not what they expected. This happens for many reasons. To avoid it, both candidates and employers need to do their part during the recruitment process. 


Read About More Workforce Trends From Our Recruitment Team

4 Workforce Trends You Can Expect to See in 2024

What’s a ‘Portfolio Career’ and Should You Jump on this Popular Trend?

Work Trend Report: What Are Our “Digital Debts” Costing Us?

Kelly Meadows Healthcare Pharma Recruiter

Kelly Meadows

Kelly Meadows is the Vice President and Practice Lead in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare business at IQ PARTNERS; she and her team partner with the best Healthcare organizations in Canada and internationally. Kelly specializes in mid-level Management to Executive roles across several related industries, including Healthcare, Nursing, Medical Aesthetics, Medical Device, Pharmacy, Digital Health, Bio-Tech, Science, Dental, Animal Health, Clinical Research, and Vision Care. Kelly has a distinguished career within a variety of niche Canadian sectors, having worked amongst the top leading companies. She is the go-to person in Canada when it comes to headhunting top talent across all disciplines. Kelly has partnered with some of the most recognized employers in the country.

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