How to Overcome the Pitfalls of Employee Retention

4 minutes read

Scare resources in the world of tech recruitment may be great for employees but make for rough waters for employers.

This disproportional supply and demand of tech employees leave employers with little room for error when it comes to keeping the top talent you worked so hard to retain. That’s why we are diving into the most common pitfalls of managing employee retention and how to avoid them.

A Lack of Strategy

Some organizations view retention as an afterthought. Essentially, there is a common misconception that if the company has decent pay and a healthy company culture, everything else will sort of fall into place. But as with any other HR-related function, retention management requires a strategy of its own. And although these organizations may be on the right track regarding salary and culture’s influence on retention, there must be sound strategies and operational initiatives that bring these promises to life. For example, be transparent about salary development, set aside scheduled team-building activities, encourage employees to turn off notifications outside of work hours to maintain work-life balance, and commit to collecting employee feedback regularly. These persistent workflows will help you structure and hold yourself accountable for your retention efforts.



Neglecting the Employee Lifecycle

Starting from search and selection to throwing a goodbye party, the importance of the employee lifecycle stage should never be underestimated. Although employee retention is one of the last phases of the lifecycle, everything leading up to that phase is bound to affect it. For example, during the recruitment process, it is important to ask candidates where they would like to develop their skills, gauge how well they resonate with your values, and determine how well you can meet their professional development needs as an employer. Failing to adequately assess a candidate from the beginning may not be noticeable in the short run, but it is likely to lead to a series of low retention rates in the long run. One way to help ensure adequate assessment is through a data-driven recruitment process. Once the employee is actually hired, it is pertinent to live up to the expectations you set as an employer, or your hire will likely end up disappointed and begin looking elsewhere to have their needs met.

Tolerating Poor Performers

Keeping low performers around will sooner or later drive out top performers. The main reason behind this frustration is that tolerating low-performing employees undermines the importance of high performers’ work. Tolerating poor performers also means that you will likely spend more time and resources on improving their skill set than advancing and enriching the skillset of your high performers. Additionally, if these low performers are managers of a team, then their lack of initiative or skill may take a toll on their subordinates - a scenario that contributes to the saying “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers.”


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Focusing Too Much on Salary

For those thinking that upping employees’ salaries for the next year is the surest way to keep them on board, you’re sadly mistaken. For those who don’t have the means or see the value in blindly upping salary, you’re in luck. The reality of the relationships between retention and salary is positive, many other equally important factors play a role in employee retention. In fact, perception of a particular benefit and its relative impact on retention is likely to vary from employee to employee as nearly everyone in the organization has different priorities and preferences. For example, someone directly out of university may place a high value on new technologies, social gatherings, and the ability to move up within an organization. However, someone with an already established career and a family at home may place emphasis on lenient vacation days and parental leave rather than after-work beers. Understanding what motivates your employees is critical when it comes to aligning their goals with your employee retention metrics.

Encouraging Singular Skills

Most companies recognize the importance of professional development and do in fact have something in place. However, a common misconception is that employees only need to professionally develop in areas that are highly relevant to their position. By neglecting your employees’ professionally related hobbies and interests, you put them in a box that limits their creativity and confines them to their role. For example, a graphic designer may have an eye for detail and might want to learn the basics of coding or even have a knack for writing. Encouraging your employees to have multifaceted skillsets gives them multiple avenues to grow and will encourage innovation and teamwork.



Assuming What Your Employees Want

Thinking that salary is the best way to retention is just one example of the misalignment that managers may have about what contributes to higher retention. This misalignment can happen for several reasons. For example, managers may assume that their employees would want to do the same things, or turn to the most popular and obvious motivators such as salary or praise. But you won’t get to the bottom of what your employees want by Google searches or self-reflection. Rather, you need to talk to them - often. During your performance reviews, or even through one-on-one’s, ask your employees what you could do as an employer to improve retention-building satisfaction. Maybe consider coming to them with a few examples to them in the right mindset, but it is generally best to leave the floor open for creativity and input. These transparent and creative ideas for input are always most effective  Also keep in mind that preferences are dynamic, so what motivated an employee a few years ago may not resonate with them today.