Top 14 Reasons Good Employees Leave — And What to Do About It

August 7, 2019 at 8:42 pm
Group of colleagues meeting around a table.

Retaining good employees takes good communication skills.

Especially now when it has become harder than ever to find good employees, it’s frustrating when a good employee leaves your company. Not only does failing to retain employees lead to a loss of productivity and morale, but it can also lead to losses in your bottom line if you can’t find an equally good employee to quickly fill the position. In an ideal world, good employees would be loyal and committed to your company, but that’s not always the case anymore.

Here are some of the top reasons why good employees leave, and some guidance about how you can improve employee retention so fewer of your good employees leave your company.

1. Salary and benefits are lacking.

If your company isn’t offering a competitive salary and benefits package for the particular job or industry, your employees will eventually realize that they can be paid higher somewhere else and will be likely to leave. If you’re lucky and they like their job reasonably well, they may come to a supervisor and offer them a chance to match their higher offer before they just leave. In these situations, it would be wise to verify their offer and then match it if you value them as an employee and want to keep them.

If you can’t afford to match the salary increase, you can see if there’s another benefit you can offer that would give them a reason to stay. Stock options, more paid time off, or a more flexible schedule could be more valuable to some employees than a higher salary and might be easier to cover for employers than a higher base pay rate.

2. There aren’t enough career development opportunities.

Career-minded employees are most likely to leave if they believe they can further their career by taking another position. Offering career development opportunities like ongoing training to prepare for advancement, tuition reimbursement, and coaching will help to keep more career-minded employees at your company because they will see that they don’t need to leave to advance.

3. Life situations interfere with work.

Major life changes like having children, encountering serious health challenges, or needing to care for aging parents cause employees to leave a job that they just don’t think they can do in their changed situation. Employers can sometimes retain these workers by offering flexibility, work-from-home options or job-sharing arrangements.

It can feel risky to have off-site or off-hour employees that aren’t getting daily, in-person supervision, but most at-home and flexible arrangements work out well because the employees are motivated to be allowed to continue working in a way that their lifestyle can accommodate.

4. The employee is being overworked.

Most employees can’t last indefinitely when they are continually overworked. Companies should be in tune with the symptoms of overwork and burnout, and they need to strongly suggest and support employees taking time off or reducing their workload and hours when they see these symptoms.

Continually overworked employees signal a need to hire more workers, even part-time, to distribute the workload better. Overworked employees typically aren’t as productive anyway, especially as time goes on. Don’t overwork your employees if you want to keep them.

5. Employees’ contributions aren’t recognized or appreciated.

When employees’ contributions are not recognized or appreciated, they may start to think what they’re doing doesn’t have any value. They may also feel taken advantage of by the employer, especially if someone else is repeatedly getting credit for their work. Putting in place a way to show appreciation and recognize employee efforts and accomplishments will help them to feel appreciated and give them a reason to stay.

6. There is a lack of feedback.

Feedback gives employees information about their job performance, both things they are doing well and things that need improvement. An employee that doesn’t get feedback or gets inappropriate feedback is likely to get frustrated and look for a better opportunity.

If your company doesn’t have a system for giving regular feedback (not only an annual review), you should work with HR to implement one immediately. Most employees feel the need to be given regular feedback that will enable them to grow or at least to know they are doing a good job.

7. The employee is micromanaged.

Giving someone a job to do without any autonomy to manage how the job gets done is a recipe for poor retention. Most employees do not like to be micromanaged and find it difficult to keep track of a bunch of rules that may not even make a whole lot of sense to them in the first place.

HR consultant Barry Flack said in an interview with Narish that one way to retain more employees is to replace the old command-and-control structure of the 20th century with a collaborative model that empowers employees to manage their tasks in a way that contributes to the overall success of the company.  Having some level of autonomy is crucial for many employees to feel satisfaction in their jobs and remain engaged at work.

Person having a video conference on their laptop.

Giving employees remote work options can help prevent them from leaving your company.

8. Management hires the wrong employees.

It doesn’t take long for employees to figure out that they don’t fit in with a company or that they aren’t right for the job for which they were hired. Most employees in this situation don’t stick around very long and quickly move on to something they think is a better fit for them. For the company, hiring the wrong employees can be fixed by improving recruiting practices and using assessments like those from Narish International to predict which shortlist candidates are most likely to be successful in a particular job.

9. Poor management practices are present.

Poor management practices are a major reason good employees leave their jobs. No one wants to work under a manager who is disorganized, wastes time on unnecessary tasks, or has poor people skills. Unfortunately, there are a significant number of managers who don’t do their jobs well. It’s the job of upper management to recognize this when it is occurring and either help managers improve or remove them. Companies today just cannot afford to lose good employees while retaining bad managers.

10. The company violates its own policies.

Another reason good employees leave jobs is that the company violates its own policies. A company may provide 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, for example, but pressure a new mom to come back to work after only six. Maybe company policy outlines particular methods for mediating conflict but reverts back to a management proclamation when conflict erupts. When a company won’t follow its own policies, it leaves employees feeling powerless and not knowing what to expect going forward, which isn’t going to make them want to stay if another opportunity comes along.

11. There are instances of disrespect that aren’t made right.

An employee who feels disrespected will have a difficult time remaining engaged at the company and will quickly start feeling unappreciated or even persecuted. Taking steps to rectify instances of disrespect can bring healing to relationships and make it possible to move forward together with a better relationship. Too often, though, the moment passes and nothing is done to acknowledge the disrespect or make it right, so the relationship festers and may blow up if the disrespect continues.

12. The job becomes boring and monotonous.

Some employees can be happy at a repetitive job that doesn’t change much over time, but others will quickly look for a way out of such a position. Providing challenges and growth opportunities for employees that want them will go a long way toward retaining them. Meeting frequently with employees early on may help to identify those who are becoming bored so that they can be challenged more and their jobs can be more varied.

13. Valued co-workers leave.

Sometimes the loss of a close co-worker can make other good employees consider leaving as well. It’s even more destabilizing and harmful when employees leave in waves, but it does happen sometimes if the situation isn’t handled well. Meeting with co-workers after a close team member leaves and assuring them of their value rather than expecting them to pick up the slack with no compensation or reward could be helpful in holding on to staff after one leaves.

In some cases, asking employees about their intentions can be a starting point to a conversation about their future with the company and where they see themselves down the road. Without making any promises in the short term, plans can begin to be made for development or advancement as a result of what is discussed in the meeting.

14. Romantic entanglements lead to change.

Romantic entanglements in or out of the workplace can lead to job changes for a variety of reasons. If a significant other changes jobs and moves to a different location, your employee may want to move with them. Another scenario is that an in-office romance between two employees ends, and one or both finds it too difficult to continue working in the same office on a daily basis.

While not much may be able to be done about these kinds of situations, meeting to talk about the situation in a professional but compassionate way may lead to a solution that allows employees to be retained–like a transfer to a different team or remote work options, for instance.

It may be difficult to get employees to open up about why they want to leave a position at your company, but a relationship built on trust and good communication may give you or a supervisor the opportunity to fix a situation before the employee makes a final decision to leave. In many of these instances, the problem may show itself before a decision is made to leave if management is trained to identify and address it.

Supervisors can be trained to look for issues and address them when they first appear so that frustration doesn’t lead to decisions that can hurt the company and cause many problems. It’s much better to deal with any situation proactively than to let it grow and become a bigger problem.

Narish International provides assessments that can improve hiring and retention by choosing employees that are best suited to a particular job and company. Let Narish help you build higher-performing teams.