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Reasons Employees Give for Leaving

Wisetail | 6 min read

The high cost of turnover

High voluntary turnover, regardless of reason, is an obviously unfavorable KPI, no matter the industry. It affects productivity, profitability, staff morale, and (all too often) the customer experience. The cost of recruiting and hiring an entry- or mid-level employee has risen to $4,000-$5,000 on average — and that number can triple for executive roles. Keeping employees engaged and dedicated to their companies is both a challenge and an opportunity for organizational stability and growth.

What causes employees to leave?

Excessive turnover is largely preventable — if your organization understands the 10 most common drivers and thoughtfully constructs a strategy to address them.

  1. Lack of purpose. “What do you do for work?” is still a common conversation starter — which makes sense, as one’s work is often a centerpiece of their daily identity and purpose. Today’s employees seek companies with strong values that align with their own. Organizations with powerful mission and value statements cultivate strong cultures and highly motivated employees, but only if they “walk the walk,” living out their commitment to that purpose in actionable ways.
  2. Poor compensation. Unsatisfactory compensation and benefits continue to drive attrition, especially among younger employees. It’s critical companies understand both market and industry wage averages and are competitive in that arena.
  3. Burnout. Employees feel a lack of control when their daily work load and stress levels are unmanageable. Reduce burnout by focusing on six common factors: demand overload, lack of control, insufficient rewards, socially toxic workplaces, lack of fairness, and value conflicts. Ask for feedback regarding workloads and listen when valued employees tell you they feel overwhelmed.
  4. Weak management. Not everyone is a successful people manager, and HR teams need to identify leaders who lack that competency. Post-pandemic workloads, requirements, and work dynamics have changed. Provide managers with different support, training, and tools to help them become better leaders in this new work environment.
  5. Lack of feedback and recognition. Positive feedback leads to much more engaged employees, but make sure the praise is meaningful. Praise, recognition, and feedback should be positive, specific, constructive, encouraging, and consistent. Check in with employees frequently, acknowledging their efforts and providing support when needed.
  6. Poor work-life balance. Work-life balance is one of the top three reasons people give for leaving a company. Help employees feel more balanced by providing scheduling flexibility and autonomy wherever possible.
  7. Boredom. Generation X employees are the most likely to leave a job due to boredom. More than any other demographic, they seek work that keeps them engaged and challenged. Foster a growth mindset among team members that values skills development, growth opportunities, and learning how to take calculated risks.
  8. No opportunity for growth and development. Another top reason for turnover is when employees don’t see a future for themselves within a company. A culture of employee development and learning is key to successful talent management, especially if that training is more than just skill-based and includes continuing education, tuition reimbursement, career development services, mentoring, and leadership development programs.
  9. Poor hiring processes. When retention rates spike, immediately focus on your hiring and onboarding processes. Feeling pressured to hire quickly, often called “desperation hiring”, leads to long-term problems. Take the time to carefully vet new hires and be transparent and honest during the interview and hiring stages of the process. Your onboarding strategy should be thoughtfully focused on employees.
  10. Negative culture. Examine how honestly and frequently leaders communicate with workers. Do employees feel respected and empowered to do their jobs without being micromanaged? Are they comfortable taking the PTO they’ve earned? Do you foster a culture of inclusion?
6 benefits of reducing turnover

Key benefits of improved retention rates

A strong retention strategy leads to improved retention rates. By addressing the common drivers of attrition above, you can look forward to:

  • Improved employee engagement — which, not coincidentally, leads to even higher retention rates
  • Reduced operational costs, particularly in talent acquisition, recruitment, and training expenses
  • Higher company morale and better staff-manager relationships
  • Increased overall productivity, leading to higher profitability and growth potential
  • Improved customer experience
  • Better applicant experience

The goal of every smart business is to build a strong culture supported by a dedicated and engaged team. If your retention strategy is failing, refresh it. The potential benefits to your organization and your bottom line are endless.

To further support your business strategies, check our webinar series, Putting the Human Back in HR. This collection of virtual events aims to bring awareness, inspiration, and action to your people-centric learning and development strategies. Featuring Dr. Casey Cox, Founder of Ascend Coaching Group, learn how to build trust amongst your employees, build a reputation for retaining top talent, and learn how you actually sit on the same side of the table as your team members.