Retention Challenges: The Real Reasons More Than Half Your Team Wants to Quit

retention challenges

A recent LinkedIn study uncovered that 53% of employees are “likely” to quit this year. If the thought of replacing the majority of your workforce keeps you up at night, it’s time to dig into the real reasons your team has had enough.

In the fast-paced world of the trades, recruiting is only half the battle. The real challenge lies in retaining that talent. As we work closely with our clients, we’ve identified four key reasons behind the retention challenges that destroy blue collar industries.

#1 Unmet Expectations

The number one reason people leave their jobs is due to unmet expectations. It’s critical to make sure that both employers and employees are on the same page from the beginning. 

Here are some tips:

  • Be clear about what you’re looking for and what you offer during the interview.
  • Ask questions that unveil who a candidate really is so you know who you’re hiring. 
  • Dig into the details of what it looks like to work for you so the candidate can make the decision if it’s the right fit for them.

Many employees leave because their expectations weren’t met within the crucial first 90 days. This could be due to a misalignment between the job requirements, cultural fit, or unfulfilled promises of growth and training. 

These unmet expectations can fall on either side and quickly lead to retention challenges. Maybe your new hire didn’t have the skills they promised during the interview or they didn’t end up fitting into the company culture like you expected. Or, maybe your new hire thought you’d be a better boss or offer more training and opportunities for growth.

Building a successful team requires agreement and buy-in from both sides. Without this foundation, the chances of retaining valuable team members is unlikely.

#2 Poor Communication

Small business entrepreneurs wear dozens of hats. From day-to-day operations to planning for the future, you have a lot on your plate. 

I get it. I’m the same way. On a given morning you can find me recording a podcast, working in a 1:1 coaching call with a client, meeting with a new team member to make sure they’re clear on their purpose in the company, meeting with my whole team to plan and strategize, and so much more.

If you’re like most bosses, you expect your team to pick up the slack when you’re busy with the bigger picture work. However, communication breakdowns occur when expectations aren’t clearly communicated. Your team needs to know how they can support the business. It’s your responsibility to:

If you want to fix your retention challenges, you have to improve your communication. Conversations should happen regularly, at least weekly, so everyone stays on the same page.

#3 Lack of Feedback

A lack of feedback leaves your team questioning whether or not they’re doing a good job. When someone is unsure of their value, they’ll jump at the first decent opportunity that comes their way. Afterall, they have their own family and lifestyle to look out for.

Your communication has to be timely and specific. It doesn’t help your employee if you let them know they did a sloppy job three months ago. It’s too late. By that point, they’re in the habit of doing the job the wrong way. You have to bring up issues and praise in real time, as things are happening.

If you’re one of those bosses who thinks a job well done is the expectation and no recognition is necessary, think again. A lack of feedback can lead to confusion and dissatisfaction among team members. If your team only hears from you when there’s a problem, they’re going to dread talking to you and avoid you when they see you coming.

You have to offer both constructive and encouraging feedback to foster growth among your team. Praising success and a job well done is motivating and builds a foundation for future conversations. Then, when the more difficult conversations come up, you’re in a better position to address challenges and help your team members learn from their mistakes.

#4 Unclear Vision and Goals

During your regular 1:1 meetings, talk about success planning and goal setting. Both act as accelerators for individual, team, and company growth. By talking about the future, your team will become more invested in their role and your retention challenges will fade away.

build engagement

Recognizing and catering to individual preferences within each role is crucial. To elevate your team regularly discuss:

  • Personal and professional goals
  • Preferences within the job
  • Areas of interest 

By making the time to learn what drives each person, you’ll develop a more productive and engaged team. 

For example, you may have one electrician who enjoys the precision of wiring up a panel. While another electrician on your team dreads the monotony. By taking the time to learn where each team member’s strengths and preferences lie, you can put people in roles that allow them to succeed. 

When people enjoy what they’re doing, they work faster and do the job better.

While all of our clients struggle with recruiting,
most truly struggle with retention.

-Ryan Englin, Founder & CEO of Core Matters

Fixing Retention Challenges

Addressing these four key factors will significantly impact retention rates in the trades:

  • Expectations alignment
  • Effective communication
  • Prompt feedback
  • Goal-oriented planning

By creating an environment where team members feel valued, understood, and supported in their personal and professional journey, you create a winning formula for long-term success.

Ryan Englin