We all know the excitement that comes from starting something new, whether it be a new job or a romantic relationship. But that initial bliss tends not to last, leading to either acceptance, growth, or disappointment. Learn what makes the honeymoon phase last and how to keep it going.
In this article:
First impressions last: what makes or breaks your new job enjoyment
Shifts and adjustments: adapting to work life after the honeymoon phase
In the long run: what you need to do to keep the spark alive
What is the 'honeymoon phase' at work?
When you first hear you’ve been hired, you might feel a hit of excitement. You’re visualizing yourself in your new position, all the growth potential, and where you might be in a few years. The opportunities seem endless, and the initial excitement can boost your sense of self-esteem and help you feel creative and engaged.
Except, just like with starting any new relationship, that bliss doesn’t usually last. The realities of life kick in, and they might not live up to your initial expectations. The honeymoon phase at work can last anywhere from a few days to weeks to months. It all depends on your expectations and whether or not they were met.
What influences the honeymoon phase?
Imagine stepping into a party where the vibe, music, and guests either make you want to dance all night or sneak out the back door. A company’s culture and work method are the same, where every aspect is going to affect your excitement to stay:
- Educational match. Going from being overeducated in one place to a more appropriate one increases the honeymoon period and long-term satisfaction.
- Extroversion vs. introversion. Extroverts are social and outgoing, and if the new job doesn’t meet their expectations of social interactions and workplace dynamics, they could feel greater disappointment than introverts.
- Newcomer socialization. Studies show institutionalized socialization is necessary rather than letting newcomers figure things out on their own.
- Growth opportunities. Without any room to improve or a clear path of development ahead, satisfaction and enthusiasm tend to diminish.
- Autonomy and empowerment. Rarely do we like to be micromanaged. The more trust and freedom we’re given with our responsibilities, the more likely we are to feel engaged.
- Recognition and feedback. It’s a must for feeling seen, heard, understood, and respected in the workplace. Recognition leads to better performance, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging if you are genuinely proud of your work.
- Work-life balance. Companies that promote a healthy balance between work and personal life can prolong the honeymoon phase. Employees need to feel their job supports their outside interests and needs to stay healthy, content, and motivated.
- Expectations. The higher or more set in your expectations about the new job, the more chance you have for disappointment. It’s best to enter with an open mind and be willing to adapt to the job.
What to expect when this phase ends
Job satisfaction for newcomers often follows a U-shaped curve, where you start on a high after first joining. Then, satisfaction drops after some time, followed by potentially increasing again. This is known as the hangover effect, where initial excitement wears off, and it’s time to face the realities of the job.
Whether or not the new realities seem manageable depends a great deal on your expectations. If they were sky-high, the differences might feel jarring.
In general, stress and disillusionment naturally happen as the novelty wears off, but if you can view it as a growth opportunity and shift your expectations, the hangover doesn’t have to last. There may still be potential, even if it’s not as exciting as you thought it might be.
However, if you realize the job isn’t a good fit for you at all, it might be time to look for a new job again.
Strategies for maintaining motivation at work
If you don’t want the hangover effect to be too long or intense, it’s best to go in with clear strategies for long-term motivation.
- Socialize. Feeling on your own at work can be incredibly isolating and harm your mental health. Making an effort to create or join social activities and build strong relationships is at the forefront of work and life satisfaction.
- Set clear goals. The more manageable and realistic our goals, the more likely we are to achieve them and appreciate doing so.
- Seek feedback. Feeling lost at work can make anyone flounder, but seeking feedback can help. Take in both the positive and negative and use it as a tool for growth.
- Embrace challenges. Keep an open and creative mind while you look for meaning. Think about how you can use the challenges presented to learn, grow, and perhaps even exceed your original expectations.
- Focus on work-life balance. No matter how hectic things feel at work, remember that your health and relationships are what keep you strong.
While the length and severity of the honeymoon phase are different for everyone, there are steps you can take to increase your job satisfaction. Arm yourself with strategies that foster growth, connection, and adaptability.
How long does the honeymoon phase last in a job?
The workplace honeymoon phase can last from a few days to months. Your expectations usually dictate the length. For example, if you quickly realize you don’t fit their company culture or that the work hours they promised aren’t the reality, the phase likely won’t last long.
What shortens the honeymoon phase at work?
A mismatch in job expectations, poor workplace culture, lack of support or feedback, and an overwhelming workload are the biggest facts that shorten the honeymoon period.
Why do people leave their jobs after the honeymoon phase?
If you realize the job you got isn’t at all what you signed up for, you’re more likely to keep looking for other positions. Disillusionment with the role or company, lack of growth potential, or even burnout can lead to leaving the job quickly.
The length of the honeymoon phase is different for everyone, but it often depends on expectations versus reality.
Strategies that can help you stay motivated even after the honeymoon phase ends include goal setting, seeking regular feedback, and finding meaning in your work.
Preventing burnout by taking preemptive action toward a work-life balance and meaningful work you enjoy is key to long-term job satisfaction.
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- Frontiers in Psychology. The impact of career growth on knowledge-based employee engagement: the mediating role of affective commitment and the moderating role of perceived organizational support.
- Sustainability. Employee recognition, task performance, and OCB: mediated and moderated by pride.