Why does it seem good employees leave more than ever these days – could it be the economy, better offers, lack of loyalty or you?
Pray tell, it’s not you, right?!
Unfortunately, the boss is a leading reason employees jump ship. But here’s the good news: You can be the biggest reason they stay – and thrive – in your organization.
Voluntary turnover rates will likely rise another 20% this year, according to an analysis by Gartner Inc.
People are willing to walk whether they have another job or not. Some will quit for the slightest reason. Others will just stop showing up.
“While a certain amount of turnover is healthy and normal, when an employer hemorrhages staff, it can take years to recover,” says Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc. “And let’s face it, retention is tough in a lot of places.”
Good employees leave because …
While mainstream media might make leaders think everyone is Quiet Quitting because they want to work less and focus on life more, that’s not the whole picture. In fact, most employees who leave today do it for similar reasons they did before the pandemic. And possibly decades before that.
Good employees leave because they don’t feel appreciated, challenged, motivated or engaged. Those are broad strokes in the “whole picture.”
More specifically, here are the top five reasons employees quit – and tactics to prevent the exodus.
No. 1: Bad relationships
In her research, Zabriskie found the top reason employees leave is they want a better relationship with their bosses. It doesn’t mean they’re all in bad relationships with their direct supervisor. It means that a relationship within their chain of command isn’t ideal. And that makes them dislike work.
If employees don’t give specific, plausible reasons for leaving, it’s probably a flawed relationship.
Fix it: If you want to stop turnover, it’ll likely take some self-analysis. Zabriskie says: “Identify the behaviors that would cause someone to leave and stop doing them. Next, identify the behaviors that would encourage someone to stay, and start doing those things. Needing to be a better manager is a simple diagnosis with a hard prescription. If you don’t know how to get better on your own, take a class, read some leadership books, craft an action plan, hire a coach or take a combination of those actions.”
No. 2: Unfulfilling work
Employees become restless when they’re bored with or lack challenges in their work. If they get to a point where there’s no career movement, they’ll feel pigeonholed – and want to fly the coop quickly.
Fix it: Keep an eye and ear out for employees who become restless. Then offer them special projects, cross-training opportunities or leadership duties. The extra attention might kickstart new interests. At the very least, it should start a conversation around how to grow professionally within your organization.
No. 3: Imbalance
Most good employees who leave because they want a better work-life balance will likely hint at the problem before they quit. But they probably won’t say it outright. Why? Because they don’t recognize the distinction. Instead, they feel – and might say – they’re stressed or overwhelmed.
“New employee expectations, and the availability of hybrid arrangements, will continue to fuel the rise in attrition,” said Piers Hudson, senior director in the Gartner HR practice.
If they can’t get a more flexible schedule, they’ll likely leave.
Fix it: Consider measuring employees on output instead of hours worked. Avoid monitoring when or where work gets done and instead focus on quality, quantity and timeliness. If those are at or above expectations, offer more flexibility to attain good employees.
No. 4: Money
Money has always been a deal maker or breaker. It’s no different now. People leave one job that’s OK to take another OK job that pays more.
“If you pay below average wages and have nothing to balance the shortfall, you’re going to lose people,” Zabriskie says. “You don’t think the job is worth more money? That’s too bad. Your competitors do, and you lose.”
Fix it: Know what’s going on in your industry and market for each role within the organization. Even if you don’t have remote staff, monitor remote compensation for roles similar to yours because people are more likely now to leave for remote work.
No. 5: Misalignment
When good employees don’t align with the organization and its purpose, they will quit. The biggest issue with misalignment: Many organizations don’t share a compelling story for employees to connect with.
“If it’s not a story about the business itself, perhaps it’s a connection to the role,” says Zabriskie.
You may not be a non-profit, philanthropic company or environmentally conscious organization, but there’s a heart at the core of your company, too. Perhaps you offer a family atmosphere. Or you support the community. Maybe your products make it possible for people on the front-line to help others.
Fix it: If you don’t have a story, build one around a value or mission and the company’s beginnings. Share it often and explicitly explain how employees impact the organization. Even better, ask them to identify their role in fulfilling the story.