Negative Team Dynamics are Driving Employee Turnover

Karen Gordon, CEO, 5 Dynamics

Karen Gordon, CEO, 5 Dynamics

How well teams work together and communicate has a direct effect on productivity, employee engagement and retention. Dysfunctional teams threaten the bottom line because of their negative impact on efficiency and employee turnover. Our recent survey indicates that negative team dynamics may be more commonplace than companies realize.

Employees are experiencing challenges with teamwork

Building strong teams is critical to employee retention. As a provider of assessment and collaboration tools, 5 Dynamics conducted a survey of 500 full-time workers living in the U.S. to better understand how employees are experiencing their work on teams. We also looked at how employers are fostering, or failing to foster, healthy team environments.

Our findings reveal that while the majority of employees work in teams, almost a third (30.4 percent) of respondents have considered leaving their job at some time because of negative team environments, and a sixth (15.4 percent) of survey respondents are currently considering leaving their job for this reason. While it’s logical that employees take team interactions into consideration when determining the right move for their careers, this data points to an underappreciated reason that talent may choose to leave a company for new opportunities.

The cost of these negative team dynamics is high. Replacement costs to hire new employees into vacated roles are notoriously expensive. Efforts aimed at professional development and company growth can’t come to fruition if staff is in constant turnover due to unresolved and misunderstood conflict between team members. Employee turnover itself contributes to negative team dynamics, fueling a vicious cycle. Many survey respondents expressed in open-ended responses that they feel stress and productivity issues when onboarding new staff. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported feeling less productive during executive changes, and 27.1 percent cited rapid company growth as the root issue for lack of team efficiency. Employees reported experiencing the most frustration when trying to motivate others (35.1 percent), executing on plans (27.4 percent) and during the planning phase (26.9 percent).

Companies are investing in assessments and collaboration tools, but most employees don’t use them

Business leaders could be unaware of the challenges their employees face in team settings and thus haven’t prioritized implementing tools to help teams communicate and work more effectively together. Those who are implementing tools may not be experiencing the full benefits because of lack of follow-through and application on a day-to-day basis.

According to the survey, 41.5 percent of respondents’ companies are using a variety of tests and tools to help understand the working styles and behavioral preferences of their employees. However, the vast majority—85 percent of respondents—use and apply these tools only sometimes, rarely, or never in their work environment.

Among respondents who use some of the most popular collaboration tools available, less than a third (29.9 percent) say they frequently apply these tools in their day-to-day work environment, and only 33.8 percent found the tools effective at helping them perform better as an individual. These results suggest that after assessments are completed, the collaboration tools and methodologies are underutilized, rather than being applied on an ongoing basis to foster positive individual and team environments.

The Bottom Line

Management and Human Resources must start an open dialogue around collaboration to address teamwork-related challenges at their company and reduce turnover. Dedicating resources to team-building tools that ultimately help individuals understand and work better with each other leads to happier employees who are more productive and less likely to leave. Companies that successfully implement collaboration tools that employees apply regularly can reap the rewards both from the bottom line, revenue-generating perspective and in attracting and retaining quality talent.

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