The Disconnect Between Upper Management and the Workforce - Zupnick Associates

(by Jordan Johnson)


Although the United States is seeing some of the highest levels of employment and economic growth in decades, retention mistakes committed by organizations are seeing workers from all industries leave their jobs in record numbers.

Every individual has their own metric for what makes a good job, but there are some general themes. Employees want to be paid fairly, feel appreciated and valued, and have access to critical benefits such as quality health insurance.

With over 50% of Americans now feeling unhappy in their jobs, human resource teams must look into why this is to ensure their organizations can retain top talent.

Does the Root Problem Lie in Retention?

The short answer is yes. More than half of the workforce feel they can get a better position elsewhere; anyone in HR knows retention is a top concern.

Retention problems are costing US organizations money, a lot of it.

Why is There a Disconnect?

One of the two biggest contributors to low job satisfaction is the disconnect between the workforce and upper management. It’s a multifaceted problem, but it generally comes down to a lack of communication in the hierarchy. 

Managers Don’t Act on Feedback

Feedback acts as both valuable information for an organization to improve and as a system for employees to offer suggestions and provide value. 

When feedback is constantly ignored, employees may begin to feel underappreciated and undervalued – especially when feedback relates to their quality of life and overall job satisfaction.

Conversely, organizations that engage with their stakeholders and are seen to value their ideas and opinions will almost certainly find they are getting a higher retention rate, along with some potentially brilliant ideas for the organization.

There is Little Work Flexibility

Flexible working can greatly benefit an organization and its employees, but when the option isn’t available, employees run the risk of suffering burnout.

There are different ways organizations can offer flexible working environments, such as condensed four-day workweeks, remote working, or a mix of both. 

Applying an employee-first approach to scheduling will allow the whole organization to see the benefits, both in terms of increased production and employee retention.

The Company Culture Isn’t Supportive

Having a positive company culture is paramount for employee retention and productivity

If an organization’s culture seems to suggest that those at the top aren’t interested in creating a positive place to work for its employees, new talent will simply look elsewhere, and you will struggle to retain your top people.

What Can be Done?

So we understand the problems, but what are some general concepts organizations can apply to see improvement in retaining talent?

Give Back With Stakeholder Feedback

Feedback from the people who are involved with an organization is always valuable. 

Gathering, processing, and acting on feedback from stakeholders shows the employees of an organization that management is listening and open to change.

Offer Flexibility Where You Can

Flexible working is gaining traction for all the right reasons. Forward-thinking organizations that are offering work flexibility are going to be in a good position to keep their top talent.

Governments also realize the necessity of flexible working, with Belgium being the first to mandate an optional condensed four-day workweek for their citizens. It’s unlikely the US will see such progressive laws in the near future, but that only serves to widen the gap between organizations that prove they care about their employees.

Build that Positive Company Culture

Company cultures can exist without input from management, but those which are successful are almost always designed. 

That doesn’t mean management controls the culture, but they provide guidelines, provisions, and opportunities to employees to make the workplace a great place to be.

Here are some things to think about when promoting positive workplace culture:

  • Management doesn’t control the culture.
  • The culture should have the interests of the employees at heart, not the organization and its bottom line.
  • Management should lead by example by showing employees more trust and giving them more responsibilities where possible.
  • Learn by trial and error. If something isn’t working, change it up.

Workplace culture is a nuanced, living, breathing entity. It’s challenging to get right, but it’s one of the most significant factors of workplace satisfaction.


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