Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong

6 min read
Feb 18, 2016

Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong - by TINYpulseTurnover is a big deal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in April of 2015, a massive 2.7 million employees quit their job. And that rate has been on the rise for the past 12 months. It’s no surprise — Gallup says the job market has been experiencing great improvement since the bleak era of the Great Recession.

As more jobs are being created, employees will be tempted to seek better opportunities. So in order to hold on to your top workers, you’ll need to start strengthening your retention strategies and find ways to improve the work environment. To kick things off for you, we’re debunking nine myths about employee retention.


1. It’s all about the money

There’s a common misconception that employees leave for better pay — always. But when HR Bamboo picked apart the reasons why people left their jobs, it turned out that money only ranked third on the list.

Although our Employee Engagement Report found that nearly one in four employees would quit for a 10% raise elsewhere, that eagerness to jump ship ties into the work environment. From dissatisfaction with the work culture to conflicts with coworkers, there are countless reasons why people choose to leave their job. But the fact of the matter is that it isn’t always about money. So don’t expect that you can keep your employees sticking around by fattening up their wallets.


2. Small businesses can’t compete against larger, big-name organizations

Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong - by TINYpulse

SOURCE: giphy.com

It’s the case of the underdog getting outshined by a celebrity. It’s true that start-ups and smaller organizations don’t always have the resources to offer perks and amenities that big shots like Google do. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to keep your employees from getting sucked up by bigger organizations.

A study by TechnologyAdvice listed the most desired perks from employees were:

  • Flexible work schedule or ability to work remotely

  • Free gym membership

  • Free food or catered lunches

  • Casual dress code

  • Mentoring or developmental programs

These are all perks that small organizations can implement for little to no money. In terms of free food or catered lunches, you don’t have to do it every day. Even having food catered once a month or holding potlucks every other week are great perks any small business can offer.


3. You can keep employees around with high-profile awards

You know the deal: employee of the month, bonuses, and mugs. These will surely keep people loyal to your organization, right? Wrong. As much as these awards make sense to you, they don’t to employees. Especially since our research found that not even one in three employees feels strongly valued on the job.

The longer an employee has to wait to get recognized for their contributions, the more they start to feel unvalued at work. And considering that only a handful of people get chosen for these awards, imagine how many people go without receiving any recognition. Employees want recognition now, not later. So even if it’s just a pat on the back or a quick “hey, great work on so-and-so project,” these simple praises will do wonders for your employees' motivation.


4. Employees are easily replaceable

Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong - by TINYpulseSOURCE: 4gifs.com

When an employee leaves, you may think you can easily just hire on someone to fill that position. However, the cost of turnover isn’t just about money spent on classified ads. TalentWise discovered that when an employee leaves, they take about 70% of their knowledge with them. Not so replaceable anymore, huh?


5. Recruitment and retention aren’t related

Recruitment is when you look for candidates, then bring them on board. Retention is keeping them there. When put this way, it seems like they’re two completely different entities. But the two are actually intertwined.

Retention starts when you’re screening candidates. During the interview. When you offer someone the job. Before you even bring someone on board, you need to determine whether or not they’ll fit into your company culture and if this is the right job fit for their career path. If you hire someone based solely on their skills, both parties might come to find that the newcomer just can’t mesh well with their colleagues or doesn’t enjoy the nature of the work.


6. You don’t need to measure turnover

Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong - by TINYpulseSOURCE: giphy.com

Do numbers really matter for turnover? High or low, every company faces turnover, so you never have to worry about keeping track of how many people have left. If there’s an actual problem within your organization, it’ll be obvious.

Reality is, it’s not always obvious. Whether you go from a 3% turnover rate to 30%, or the numbers just remain at 10%, the issue at hand is still that employees are leaving. You need to keep track of the ups and downs of your organization’s turnover rate to establish a trend or get to the bottom of the issue. How will you know if you’re actually improving your workplace or if it’s regressing if you don’t keep track of the numbers?


7. Low turnover means your employees love their jobs

Low turnover rate making you say "hooray"? We say nay to that. There are typically two types of people who stay at their jobs: those who actually love it and those who stay out of sheer laziness. With the hours spent looking through job postings, writing cover letters, and going to interviews, it takes a lot of effort to find a new job. And some people don’t have the motivation to do that, so they’d rather stay unhappy at the job they already have.

And there’s your problem. A disengaged employee isn’t doing your bottom line any good. You don’t want someone who just shows up to clock in and clock out. You want someone who will put in every single ounce of effort into their work. So leverage a tool like pulsing surveys to get down and dirty into employee sentiment. You might have thought your workplace was all rainbows and unicorns, but a pulsing survey is the ideal way for employees to air their dirty laundry.


8. The company is to blame when an employee leaves

Everything You Know About Employee Retention Is Wrong - by TINYpulseSOURCE: giphy.com

People are quitting. It must be the company’s fault. The company culture isn’t working. A process is broken. These are all assumptions that you can easily make when people quit, but the company isn’t always to blame. Sometimes people love the company and the culture but loathe their boss.

Before promoting someone, first take into consideration how this person has recognized their peers. Do they do it often and inspire their coworkers? What about communication — do they provide clear information to their peers, or do they hoard it so they make their colleagues look bad? If they don’t exemplify these qualities as an employee, there’s a good chance they won’t do so as a leader. Skills like project management can be learned, but personality can’t.


9. You have no control over turnover

You can’t stop people from leaving. It’s the choice they made, and you have no influence over it ... is what a bad boss would say.

Leaders do have control over turnover. If they invest in their employee’s development, ask for their feedback and act upon it, and frequently recognize good work, then you can bet people will be willing to stick around longer. Use a tool like pulsing surveys to stay on top of employee sentiment and nip issues right in the bud. If you solve issues before they become a nightmare, you can definitely prevent a number of employees from quitting.

Quitting is typically the last resort for employees. Once they’ve reached their limit and see no improvements in the workplace, they’re going straight for the door. So make sure you create a transparent environment that also fosters two-way communication. That way, both employees and leaders will be receptive to workplace issues and finding solutions to improve the culture.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. 



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