5 Ways You Might Be Unknowingly Pushing Away Your Best Employees



After bringing top talent on board, you might think paying a competitive salary is enough to keep them. It’s not. It takes more than money to earn the loyalty of an employee. Loyalty is earned by creating an environment that makes an employee feel valued, and gives them the opportunity to provide value to others.

There are many reasons an employee might seek employment with your competitor. Most of those reasons are related to a lack of feeling appreciated.

1. You’re not recognizing them for their contributions

Recognition leads to retention, but most recognition programs are impersonal and outdated. For example, most businesses have recognition programs in place that recognize employees for length of service. For instance, say a highly skilled employee of six months sees a lazy team member being recognized for sticking with the company for five years. The skilled employee will feel unappreciated and resentful toward the team member being recognized for no reason.

These employee recognition statistics drive home the importance of recognizing employees for their contributions and skills above length of service. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found the median tenure of workers aged 55-64 is just over ten years. For workers aged 25-34, the median tenure is just three years. If your only recognition program celebrates length of service, younger team members are being ignored and will start looking for a job where they’ll be recognized.

2. You changed their position and hired someone less skilled to take over

Hiring cheaper talent to take over a position is an easy financial decision, but the employee you’re replacing won’t always like it. If you let that employee go, you don’t need to worry. When you move that employee to another position, they might become resentful when someone less skilled takes over their former position.

Employees become attached to their positions, even when they’re somewhat mundane. Every business has general positions that can be taken on by anyone with basic skills like accounting or customer service. The problem comes to light when you demote an employee with specialized skills and your business suffers because of it.

If you can’t afford to keep an employee whose duties directly affect your bottom line, consider using a short-term loan to keep them on board. For example, if you’ve hired a high-level marketing manager to transform your marketing department, don’t let go of that position. Find a way to pay their salary because they will be directly responsible for implementing strategies to generate income.

On the upside, any loan you take out will help improve your business credit, which can give you access to even more capital when you need it. If you’ve hired the right marketing manager, your business will grow, and you will eventually need more capital.

3. They don’t perceive their position provides value

You know every position makes a difference, even the person you hire to clean your floors. Your employees won’t always see it that way when they’re the ones with the mundane task. It’s your job to make sure every employee knows their contribution makes a difference for the rest of the team and your customers.

If you spend time praising the same star players over and over, but fail to recognize the grueling job of the person who stuffs your envelopes, you’re going to have a high turnover rate for envelope stuffers.

4. They’re being interrupted too often

Distractions are especially frustrating for people who require long periods of focus to get their tasks done. For example, programmers, copywriters, and web developers require deep concentration to be productive.

Unexpected meetings and open cubicles contribute to external distractions that take people off task, but some interruptions are self-created. Research shows people interrupt themselves about 44% of the time.

When an employee is serious about getting their job done, and your office structure doesn’t support that, they will search for a job that will give them what they need.

5. They’re unchallenged or overwhelmed

Challenge is a good thing, provided it’s not excessive. Your team members need goals to achieve to stay interested in their work, but those goals need to be somewhat attainable. You also need to allow them to focus on one goal at a time and not scatter their energy. For example, if your web developer is also a graphic artist and SEO guru, don’t assign them projects in all of those areas at once. They’ll become overwhelmed and each small challenge will seem like a mountain they can’t move.

Keep your star employees happy

Don’t give your best employees to the competition. Treat them well. Recognize them for their contributions to the team and make sure they know their position makes a difference for your customers.