Basic Retention Pitfalls Are Happening: Here's How to Avoid Them - Zupnick Associates

(by Jordan Johnson)


Despite our best efforts to avoid, retention mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. And they always cost the company money, both in terms of lost productivity and the costs associated with the hiring process, don’t they? 

When new hires are brought into an organization, they do not usually reach optimal productivity levels until they have been at the company for some time and have learned the various procedures, systems, and had a chance to settle into their role. 

Of course, the timeframe for this varies by organization and role, but it’s clear that losing employees costs money. Before we jump into how to avoid those pesky mistakes, let’s answer a big, and important question:

Why are organizations making these mistakes?

On the surface, many different factors could lead to employees leaving their role or organizations losing employees. Here are some of the reasons why organizations may have to look for someone else:

  • The hire wasn’t fit for the role, which the hiring manager did not spot during the recruitment process.
  • A general lack of trust, respect, or responsibility.
  • The company culture is toxic.
  • There is no room for growth or career progression.
  • Employees have unresolved issues with peers.

The list could go on. However, this article will examine two of the biggest retention mistakes that lead to employees heading for the exit. 

The Disconnect Begins Between Upper Management & Regular Workers

Any disconnect between upper management and the rest of the workforce can have an effect on an organization’s retention rate. The feeling of disconnection can happen as the result of many different factors. 

For example, in organizations with tall management structures that have many levels between upper management and the regular workforce, it can be challenging to communicate effectively

Depending on company policy, feedback may only make it up one or two levels of the management chain, causing the people at the bottom to feel unheard when it comes to actual change. 

Other reasons why employees may feel disconnected from upper management include:

  • Managers refuse to act on feedback.
  • Employees feel unappreciated.
  • There is little work flexibility.
  • There aren’t enough resources provided to employees.
  • Company culture isn’t inclusive of all employees.

Therefore, organizations looking to bolster their employee retention rate should keep channels of communication wide open.

Focus on feedback

Upper management who regularly act on feedback from employees at all levels of the organization actively demonstrate that they care about their employees and that their opinions are welcome and valuable, which can be highly motivating.

Building mutual expectations 

Even though upper management generally has more expectations on their shoulders, it’s still a two-way street. Mutual expectations that are regularly met can help build trust in an organization while reducing friction and increasing employee retention. 

Promising Unattainable Benefits

The second of the ‘big two’ retention mistakes an organization can make is promising benefits that many of the workforce will never see or use. This can lead to employees feeling duped and generate a sense of mistrust.

A fine example of this is the various types of insurance benefits employers offer. Insurance can often seem ideal for the candidate, but the contribution amount offered by employers varies from company to company, depending on their contribution strategy. As a result, it can often leave employees paying large premiums or stuck in plans that have huge deductibles. 

Here are some examples of benefits that are commonly unattainable or less than valuable:

  • Insurance with high premiums.
  • Unlimited vacation time at the manager’s discretion.
  • Overtime opportunities that never surface.
  • “Secure” employment opportunities.
  • Employee discount programs for popular retailers.
  • One-size-fits-all compensation packages, such as child care assistance.

Poor Communication on Benefits & How They Work

Forward-thinking businesses now offer complex compensation packages with benefits that are generally tailored to the employee, often at the expense of a reduction of overall salary, as the benefits still cost the organization money.

But when employees don’t know precisely what they are getting, the value of the overall package is reduced. Employees may also think they were getting a better deal than they are, such as with the various types of deductible insurance.

If you are looking to retain your top people, then making clear the benefits and opportunities available to them, including how to access them, is paramount.

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