What’s Killing Your Employee Retention Rate?

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated November 6, 2023

When you factor in the time and money that it takes to recruit, onboard, and train a new employee, the costs start to really add up. 

Some studies suggest the expense could be as high as nine months of an employee’s salary just to hire and onboard them. According to a Center for American Progress (CAP) study, this figure depends on the type of job and their level of prior experience. 

For jobs with high turnover, low pay, and hourly-rates (usually less than $30,000 a year), CAP estimates the cost of replacing these employees is around 16% of their salary. For mid-level employees earning up to $50,000, it costs in the range of 20% of their salary to replace them. For top-level executives, this figure jumps more than ten times, to 213%.  

One unhappy employee might not seem like a big deal. However, if you start to notice a trend and see your employee retention rate dropping, you may need to address some more significant issues within your organization. 

Here we will discuss the biggest issues and how you can fix them. 

Management drama

It’s said that employees don’t leave their job, they leave their boss. The rate of quitting a job due to a poor relationship with a manager is as high as 75%

If this is a one-off, it’s probably a personality clash. However, if you start to notice a trend where a particular manager has high turnover rates, it may indicate something is wrong with their management style. 

Look at what people say in their exit interviews and if there was something specific said about their manager’s style. 

If there is an issue with micro-management, help the manager in question with training on how to delegate. Perhaps the manager feels the staff aren’t adequately trained and is resistant to relinquishing control as a result. Here you may need to address whether your onboarding and training processes are up to scratch. 

The problem could also stem from higher up the ladder. If a manager feels there is a lot of pressure from senior management and it’s their neck on the line, they may want to keep a close eye on everything their team is doing. 

Micro-management isn’t the only reason for a poor relationship. Poor communication between a manager and an employee, or the team, will not only create a divide but lead to mistakes as critical details may not be transferred.

Faulty communication can also lead to misaligned expectations. The manager may create a set of clear goals for individuals and the team, but if these are not shared the team will remain in the dark and miss their benchmarks. 

Equally as challenging are unrealistic or overly-demanding goals. Missing targets is demoralizing and could lead to a lack of engagement. 

These issues can be easily avoided with clear lines of communication, working together to define goals and targets. Additionally, excellent employee onboarding and training, as well as practical management training, can provide confidence and build trust throughout the team. 

Lack of development opportunities 

The best employees are the ones that are hungry to learn more. Why would you want to stifle that enthusiasm by not investing in their development? 

Growth doesn’t have to mean promotions but instead could involve offering opportunities to learn a new skill or become an expert in something they are showing interest. 

If an employee is ambitious and they have a thirst for learning, they may walk when they realize there is no room to progress within the company. Similarly, if they don’t see the company is investing in them by offering training programs to expand their skill set, they may start to feel undervalued and under-appreciated.

To solve this, companies need to provide more attention to their training and development programs. Offer your employees to attend relevant conferences, not just to gain knowledge, but also to encourage networking and idea-sharing. 

Learning and development need to be a constant feature within your organization, and while they may require some budget, you will see the ROI through more knowledgeable and happier employees. 

Overworked burnout

Research shows that up to 70% of employees don’t feel there are enough work hours in the week to complete their jobs.

If your employee is working overtime and still not getting to everything they need to do, they are either highly inefficient or severely overworked. 

If it’s the latter, then it won’t take long for it to start affecting the employee’s work-life balance and for them to feel demoralized and frustrated. Managers need to assess whether the workload they are giving their employees is reasonable.

Performance Management Techniques

In today’s digital world, where working can be flexible, this is an easy fix. Trust your team to get the work done during times that suit them. According to Forbes, 51% of respondents to their Global Talent Trends study carried out in 2018 wished their employer offered a more flexible working environment. 

Employees have access to their emails in the palm of their hand, so it’s less about work-life balance and more about work-life integration. Think about how, as a company, you can enable this integration and encourage flexible working among your employees. 

Salaries don’t match the output

Ambitious employees will always be looking to progress. This includes increasing their salaries. Around 20% of employees will leave for another job paying 10% more.  

The easiest way to rectify this is to offer pay raises to your employees. It is a tried-and-true method for retaining staff to ensure they feel valued. Of course, the individual receiving the raise should feel like they’ve earned it. Raises need to be awarded at the employer’s discretion for excellence and based on the employee’s contribution to the company. 

As we know, staff turnover and retraining new staff cost a business on average 20% of an employee’s salary. So, simple mathematics tells you it’s cheaper to give them the 10% raise they’d get elsewhere. 

If budgets prohibit pay increases, think about how your business can offer benefits that enhance the employee’s life. Give your employee options like an increase in the number of vacation days, flexible working accommodations, stocks and shares programs, improved healthcare plans, and gym memberships. 

Lack of recognition

You don’t want to lose your hardest-working employees. Not acknowledging or appreciating the efforts and achievements of your employees will quickly lower morale and motivation. Human nature shows us that people are unlikely to put in extra effort if they believe it will be taken for granted. 

Cultivating gratitude in the workplace is easy to do, doesn’t cost much, and has proven positive results. Companies can institute peer-to-peer recognition, nominating fellow staff for employee of the month. Managers can also recognize excellence with quarterly or annual awards, or just by sending a congratulatory email to the team or the wider company when an employee goes above and beyond.

Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to work hard and have increased productivity rates. Fostering a culture of thanks and recognition will also encourage more supportive and happier working relationships. 

Throwing money at the problem won’t work

Staff retention rates are a reflection of an enjoyable work environment. This is a combination of many factors which, of course, also include competitive salaries and regular pay reviews. 

However, keeping retention rates high is truly about offering a positive work setting. One that encourages and appreciates an individual’s skills and talents–one that makes them happy to come to work every day. This means not micro-managing employees, enabling a positive working environment with appreciation and thanks alongside offering continued learning and development. 

Boosting your employee retention rate will help improve your bottom line two-fold. First, by not incurring the cost of recruiting and training new employees, but more importantly, having happy employees means improved success rates across the organization.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.