Why Is a New Employee Looking to Transfer?

by Evil HR Lady on January 13, 2020

An employee who has been here only three months just quit. In his exit interview, he said there wasn’t enough work to do within his department, and he was bored, so he looked to move on. I asked why he hadn’t applied for any number of open positions we have. He said he didn’t because his manager said he couldn’t change jobs when he’d been here less than a year. This is true. Is this a policy we should keep?

To read my answer, click here: Why Is a New Employee Looking to Transfer?

Leave your own answer in the comments!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 13, 2020 at 5:28 pm

I’m not in total agreement with EHRL response. Why is it reasonable to lose a person an org already spent money onboarding and training instead of being open to the right fit for the employee and the org even if that’s within first weeks of hire? When an org has a policy, it’s not always intuitive to a newer employee to work around it and who would help her/him to that. Policy is more than a guide – usually it means: here’s a rule – follow it or there are possible negative consequences. Otherwise, there’s not a need for a policy.

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Kathy January 13, 2020 at 6:11 pm

I have often seen and sometimes been been the new employee who doesn’t get a reasonable amount of real work assigned for months on end. I’ve seen new employees given useless “mickey mouse” work just to occupy them for a year and more. As a long time employee I was reorganized into a new department in which no one had any assigned responsibility for almost a year. Team member proposals to take on a valuable task or project were rebuffed with “no, it’s not our charter” until people became afraid to remind the boss again, “I have no work.” I’m curious about why this is so common and what bosses and new/reorged employees can do about it.

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jdgalt January 13, 2020 at 6:43 pm

“This is for a good reason. You hire people because you need them to do a specific job.”

That’s supposed to be true, but it doesn’t sound like it actually was, or the letter writer wouldn’t be sitting there with nothing to do. If the manager doesn’t know what the new employee will need to be doing, he should not be hiring yet.

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Analyst Robot January 13, 2020 at 9:07 pm

I had the same experience. I was at “old job” for 8 months and had nothing to do so I found a new job. Problem was that the whole department was just pretending that they were working, so if I asked for an exception so I could transfer, then I would have exposed my department for the fraudulent work that they were doing. Not the connections I want to make at a company.
So technically I left because I wouldn’t be eligible for a transfer until a year. But the reality is that I didn’t want to work for a company that hires people to pretend to work.

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Mr I-M-Outtahere January 13, 2020 at 9:24 pm

I’d’ve probably stayed with my prior employer, but my assigned client only respected people who’d been with the company at least a decade. (He also droned and repeated himself, and preened during meetings, but I can keep a straight face). I can’t stand being sneered at and disrespected (and yes, that’s what I said during the HR exit interview). Note: I had directly-transferrable prior experience at a similar firm. No, I wasn’t allowed to seek a job transfer within the company for several intolerable months. Naturally I bailed!

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MariaRose January 14, 2020 at 12:03 am

If that employee was “bored” by the job because of a lack of “exciting work”, that was definitely a not needed position for that department. Now if I was the HR who had done the hiring, I would definitely be following up on this turnover because at 90 days in that position, no one should be “bored” but fully functioning in the position. Between the department listed needs and the employee’s idea of the job, there was a gap in the information of the exact job’s skills. My impression of a when a fast turnover occurs is that this job was merely a stepping stone to next. The only thing I would change is a better-detailed discussion in the hiring interview about the long-term view of the candidate and the job being offered.

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Elizabeth West January 14, 2020 at 11:18 pm

Well, fully functioning after 90 days depends on the job. I once had a clerical job in a laboratory that took six months to completely learn. But the hiring manager knew that, and what’s more, she told me upfront. And there was no lack of things to do!

I agree with you; communication may have fallen off during hiring. And like Suzanne, I think the LW should also check what’s going on in the department and see if this is a symptom of a larger issue or just a meh employee.

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Observer January 14, 2020 at 4:07 am

So, here is the problem with this policy. People don’t really care what you need, any more that most employers care what their employees need. And (at least in the US) that means that they can leave the job, whether you need them for the job or not. So, as an employer you can either fix the job (if that’s possible) or you can lose that person IN THAT JOB. If fixing the job is not realistic, you are almost certainly going to lose that person in that position and the only choice you get is if you get to retain this person in another appropriate role or not.

But, OP, you REALLY need to have a serious chat with the supervisor AND to do a serious evaluation of your culture and onboarding.

If someone asks to transfer, the obviously are not happy in their position. What did the supervisor do when he was told how unhappy his employee was? And why did the employee not feel able to talk to anyone else about the issue?

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Sahara K January 14, 2020 at 8:01 am

I was once hired for a job in a large corporation. I was busy during the first four months, but my workload dropped off considerably thereafter. Eventually, I was laid off after I had worked there approximately 2 years 8 months. The main reason I did not look for another job was this: After working in my new job for about 6 weeks (and while I was still busy), my husband suffered a minor stroke and could not go back to his work for several months (he was self-employed). I had to keep working to keep our company-sponsored health insurance. I did not know what would happen with his health, so I kept that miserable job for too long. After I was laid off, I could not find another permanent job for about 1-1/2 years. I had discussed my lack of workload with the HR department and one of the vice-presidents. I was hoping that I could perhaps work part-time in another department, but that did not happen. I did, however, get 2-3 months of severance pay when they laid me off.

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