Kompendium’s Retention Blog Part 1

Voluntary First Year Turnover (VFYT)

Recommendations to Reduce Voluntary First Year Turnover

Understanding what one organization must do to combat Voluntary First Year Turnover (VFYT) requires an understanding that context matters. Each organization cannot simply apply the benchmarks, or those tactics employed by the Fortune 500 and expect the same or similar results. Analogous to the effectiveness of a lock and key, a key works very well in one door but would not work at all in others because the lock’s inner workings were engineered specifically for a unique key. That key is worthless when facing another lock. The same goes for combatting VFYT; a referral program might show a 12% overall improvement in retention in one experimental organization but may not be as effective for all organizations the same way.

The VFYT turnover literature suggests that turnover is a complex phenomenon. For our purposes, we will break down VFYT into chunks of activities that impact the decision of an individual to stay or leave their new organization for one year.

The first step in the process is what is known as pre-hire activities; from the candidate’s perspective, this commonly begins with a job posting. Next, it is common to have an application process, feedback about their application, and first contact with a recruiting professional. The following steps are usually a first interview or a phone screen, then an onsite interview, possibly a tour, and the offer stage. The offer letter is sent, generally, via email, the offer is accepted, and then the onboarding starts.

Dependent upon the industry, there are many different responsibilities put upon pre-hire candidates. Traditionally, there are a set of references needed, verification of credentials and education, criminal background check, and a health screening. Once the candidate passes all onboarding, they are provided a start date and give their current employer notice. Depending on the level of this search, the new hire might not start for up to 4-weeks.


During pre-hire activities, the candidates have expressed an interest in working for the organization. That process should be made as simple as possible. A straightforward process means providing concise information about the job in all postings. Strip out any information that might inadvertently turn off or confuse candidates. For organizations without a lot of resources in HR, reviewing competitor advertisements for similar roles is a good indicator of what should and should not be included in a posting.

Next, the online posting should lead a candidate to a place within the organization’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), where they can easily apply for the role. It is not uncommon for a 50% drop-off due to requiring candidates to apply for a posting from a third-party website when they arrive at the ATS step. This drop-off signifies that the ATS steps are burdensome, confusing, or the application process is too long. The organization needs to ensure that this step in the hiring process includes the minimum number of steps and no more.

A candidate becomes an applicant once they have successfully applied for the job. Most ATS systems will immediately send a welcome email that provides a snapshot of the next steps. It is advisable to inform applicants that if they do not hear anything about this role, they are encouraged to look at other positions and invited to join the company’s talent community (more on talent communities later in the paper).

The qualified applicants should receive a personal notice or phone call from the responsible person to recruit that specific role. The steps in the process should be re-explained, and the applicant should have the opportunity to report any scheduling conflicts upcoming that might impede a speedy interview process.

Once the hiring manager has reviewed the candidate’s profile and wants to meet with them, the candidate should receive a schedule for the interview day. The schedule provides the candidate with specifics about the individuals they will meet, the location(s), and how long they should plan to be there that day. Information should be attached with the agenda regarding directions to the interview site, specific advisory information about the area if needed (roadwork in progress, for instance), and where to park. If the candidate meets during lunchtime, have food available or plan one of the interview steps over lunch.

Internally, the recruiting team (recruiter, hiring manager, and others involved should clear their schedules for the times allotted for the meetings), and have backup plans in case something unexpected delays any of the interview team members. Organizations must understand that all steps in this process are for evaluation for both sides of the hiring process.

All the interviewers should have a role in the process. All should be familiar with the job description, have reviewed the resume, and be ready to take active roles in the interviews. There should be notes taken and an evaluation form filled out and returned to HR quickly to decide the next steps.
Consistent with the other steps in the Pre-hire phase, let the candidate know what to expect following the interview. Then, the HR team must ensure those steps occur as reported to the candidate. Timely feedback is essential and an excellent opportunity to establish how important the candidate is to the organization.

Companies or individuals looking to learn more about how Kompendium can assist your organization in developing detailed plans for retention, please get in touch. The next installment of Kompendium’s Retention Blog will deal with Orientation and the first 90-days.

Kurt D. Geiger, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CDCS




kəmˈpendēəm – strategic Human Resources for small and growing businesses.  


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