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Retention Roadblocks: ‘Concerning’ Disconnect Fuels Employee Turnover

As employees continue to make plans to switch jobs, employers aren’t on the same page when it comes to their reasons for leaving, workplace quality and more, according to The Hartford.
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retention roadblocks: ‘concerning’ disconnect fuels employee turnover

Differences in opinion among U.S. workers and employers about company culture, benefits, career advancement and flexibility are fueling turnover in the workplace, according to The Hartford's 2022 Future of Benefits Study, which polled U.S. workers and human resource benefit decision-makers.

A majority of U.S. workers (59%) said it would be easy to find a new job and many have taken or plan to take steps to leave their current job. While higher wages were the top motivator (47%) for those who switched or plan to switch jobs, 33% of workers said they sought a better workplace culture. Only 14% of employers recognized company culture as a factor in employees' decisions to leave.

“It is no surprise that workers are seeking higher salaries, but it is concerning employers are not seeing eye-to-eye with their workforce on issues related to workplace culture and retention," said Jonathan Bennett, head of group benefits, The Hartford. “These disconnects are impeding retention."

“Employers who will attract and retain diverse, innovative and talented people will not only include the foundation of strong pay and benefits, but will be those who embrace a transparent, inclusive work culture that prioritizes flexibility and communication," he added.

Overall, many workers have taken or plan to take steps to switch jobs, including applying for a job (49%), updating their resume (62%) and looking at job postings (71%). The top five reasons U.S. workers left their job or plan to leave their current job are:

  • Higher wages (47%)
  • Better workplace culture (33%)
  • Career advancement (30%)
  • Flexibility (24%)
  • Poor treatment by management (22%)

The study also found that, although benefits aren't the biggest motivator in attracting and retaining workers, ensuring employees understand how to access their benefits could be key to retaining staff, which is illuminated given that 70% of employers believe employees underutilize the services, benefits, and programs they make available, according to the study. However, another disconnect lies in the fact that most employers (71%) consider the benefits package they offer to their employees to be better than many of the packages offered by their competitors, but only 55% of workers agree.

“Historically there has been a lack of understanding about the value and financial support that benefits such as disability and supplemental health insurance can provide when employees are faced with the unexpected," Bennett said. “Given the large number of workers switching jobs, employers must bridge the education gap and help workers understand how these benefits can protect their new paycheck."

Meanwhile, The Hartford's study showed there is an opportunity for employers to better demonstrate the actions they are taking to retain and care for their workforce. Nearly all employers (96%) believe they are taking steps to retain their workforce. However, their efforts are not fully felt by employees with only half of workers (52%) saying their company is taking steps to retain employees.

Additionally, employers are more optimistic about their workplace when it comes to job satisfaction, workplace stress levels and mental health than their employees in several ways:

  • 69% of employers think their workers are satisfied with their job, but only 48% of workers agree.
  • Only 17% of employers felt turnover has gotten worse, compared to 39% of workers.
  • 28% of U.S. workers describe their company culture as stressful compared to 11% of employers.
  • 80% of employers feel workers have flexibility in their schedule to get the mental health help they need, compared to 53% of U.S. workers.

However, the study notes that the disconnects among employers and workers should be viewed as an opportunity to reevaluate offerings, gather and act on feedback from their workforce, and communicate more about company culture and benefits.

Recommendations to close the gap between employers and employees include talking to employees about career advancement opportunities, embracing flexibility in the workplace, fostering an open and inclusive work culture where workers feel comfortable coming forward when they need help with workload or stress, and more.

Bennett discusses the disconnects and how to overcome them in greater detail in a video posted to The Hartford's YouTube channel.

Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.  

Friday, July 8, 2022
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