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Why Great Employees Quit & How to Keep Them

The cost of hiring new employees can be a drain on your resources. The average recruiting cost per hire varies according to job level and hiring strategies, but the average is 35% of an executive’s first year salary. It makes sense that an employer would want to recoup those expenses by retaining their top talent for at least a few years. How do you keep new hires once you’ve landed them?

We’ll look at seven common reasons why employees leave and how you can keep them.

Reason #1: The job or workplace was not as expected.

Being honest about the company during the hiring process builds trust and provides clear expectations to a potential candidate. In the rush to hire, employers may over sell the job, or fail to mention any challenges the company is facing. Once a new hire gets on board, they’ll find that things aren’t what they were touted to be. That breeds both dissatisfaction and mistrust. This new hire may wonder what else is wrong or what else the company might be hiding. Companies should be honest about their future even with blemishes…and all companies have them. This will ensure the proper fit between employee and work environment.

Reason #2: Mismatch between job and the person.

A company may rush the hiring process if they’re on a time crunch, or if they’re charmed by a potential candidate. This will cause harm in the long run, though. Be sure the person has both the competencies necessary for the job and is the right personality fit. Clearly outline what the company expects of the employee, and vice versa. If someone is a good fit for the role, they’ll likely utilize their strengths and skills more often, and find their work enjoyable. They’ll want to stick around longer in a job that plays to their strengths and enables them to grow as a professional.

Reason #3: Too little feedback or coaching.

It’s easy for busy managers to ignore top performers by accident. Top performers typically don’t require much maintenance because they are self-reliant and hard-working. Managers should not think that these independent and driven employees don’t need or want feedback and coaching. Top performers may prefer to focus on their work rather than take up their boss’s time with a request for feedback or coaching. They shouldn’t be overlooked, because they can easily find another job that doesn’t ignore them.

Reason #4: Too few growth and advancement opportunities.

Sixty percent of millennial job seekers consider growth opportunities to be the best perk of a job. Talented employees want and need growth opportunities. If they don’t feel challenged with their daily work, they may feel their bosses don’t support them and take their professional development seriously. These employees may leave to join a company that does.

Reason #5: Feeling devalued and unrecognized.

A little appreciation goes a long way for all employees. This goes hand-in-hand with having too little feedback or coaching. Appreciation can mean organizing simple, regular conversations between an employee or manager to discuss performance (good and bad). It’s imperative that managers also do not treat employees disrespectfully. This includes talking to employees in an inappropriate tone, not handling conflicts well, or blaming employees for their mistakes. A talented employee may search for a manager who values and respects them as a person.

Reason #6: Stress from overwork and work-life imbalance.

Almost 80% of millennials consider how they’ll fit into a company’s culture before even accepting the job. Making sure your organization treats employees with respect and care is vital to the health of your company. When you force workers into choosing between their personal life and their career, you may end up with plenty of unhappy employees, or your top employees will leave to find something better. Improper work/life balance is the second reason (after lack of advancement opportunities) employees will leave their job.

Reason #7: Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders.

A poor manager can often make talented employees quit. Leaders who don’t provide a clear vision and understandable path for their employees risk losing them. Poor managers don’t listen to their employees, take the time to train and guide them, and don’t offer regular feedback. A manager needs good people skills and leadership skills, in addition to knowing the company’s industry well.

A good leader should:

  • Inspire confidence through communication, planning and ability. One of the most annoying situations, according to employees, is when management is “less aware of the industry than you or your team.” A manager can’t lead a team if the team thinks he or she is incompetent.
  • Do what you say you’ll do. Follow through on what you say. Don’t agree to an idea and fail to act on it. Eventually, employees will tire of arguing for their positions or listening to conflicting words and actions.
  • Trust and believe in your workforce. Employees don’t like being micromanaged. With a certain degree of control over their work, employees know that the company trusts them to accomplish their goals. This can be a powerful motivator.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, noted that the best leaders are known for “getting the right people on the bus.” He didn’t mention that a much tougher challenge is keeping these people on the bus. By understanding these seven reasons employees quit, you’ll be able to retain and motivate your valued employees.

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders.

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