Why Good Employees Leave (and What You Can Do About It)
Good employees are the best investment your company can make. You go to great lengths to find, recruit, and retain the best people, knowing that they are essential to your company’s continued vitality.
Yet despite your best efforts, good employees leave. This is frustrating for you as a manager and can be destabilizing and demoralizing for your other team members. What can you do to keep good employees around?
The first step, which we’ll explore today, is understanding what causes good employees to leave. We’ll look at six common causes of employee turnover, and what you can do to minimize it. By the end of the post, you’ll understand how to boost your employee retention and nurture the talent you worked so hard to recruit.
Reason 1: Insufficient Pay
While we all would like to think that our employees’ jobs are so fulfilling that they would work for free, no one wants to be underpaid. Even the most engaged and excited employees will lose steam quickly if they’re not receiving a salary appropriate for their education, experience, and contribution.
With the emergence of sites such as GlassDoor and an increased cultural openness about salaries, people will figure out sooner or later if they’re being underpaid. It’s how you respond to these concerns that defines you as a manager.
What to do: To start, make sure you’re paying your employees well from the day you hire them. You should also be awarding raises that (at least) keep up with inflation, and ideally ones tied to job performance, rewarding the best performers with increased pay.
Of course, in some situations you won’t be able to offer employees a raise, due to budgetary concerns or the simple fact that the decision is out of your hands. If this is the case, consider other incentives such as letting employees work from home a couple days a week or giving your employees more interesting assignments.
Reason 2: Lack of Challenge
Your best employees are likely high achievers who relish a challenge. They’re not satisfied by simply phoning in their work and collecting their paycheck every two weeks. They want work that’s meaningful, interesting, and develops their skills and expertise.
All too often, however, the drive and ability of good employees ends up wasted on menial tasks. Since good employees know how valuable and in-demand their skills are, they will be quick to find a more challenging new job elsewhere if your company isn’t meeting expectations.
What to do: Open dialogue with employees can help prevent attrition due to a lack of challenge. Make sure to directly ask your employees if they feel their work is challenging enough. If they tell you it isn’t, then you can work with them to find more challenging projects suitable for their skills.
Reason 3: Toxic Company Culture
Sometimes, employees leave for reasons that go beyond the pay or the work itself. If your workplace is full of petty office politics, infighting, or excessive competition, your quality employees will get out as soon as they can.
What to do: Changing company culture isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is something you should start to fix as soon as you realize it’s a problem. The longer you neglect it, the worse it will get, chasing more and more good employees out the door, as it spreads through your organization.
Depending on your level in the organization, you may only be able to influence the culture of your specific team or department. Still, you should do whatever you can to create a healthy work environment. Once again, the best way to solve this problem is to talk about it with your employees. Speak to them one on one to get a sense of where the conflict is coming from.
If necessary, reorganize who works with whom or (in drastic cases) fire employees who are a serious part of the problem. This is tough and unpleasant, but it’s worth it to keep your best employees around. Don’t let toxic peers be the reason your best people leave.
Reason 4: Lack of Autonomy
Are you micromanaging your employees, attempting to direct every minute task they perform? You’re just trying to make sure they perform their best possible work, but managing too closely can kill morale.
After all, you hired your most talented employees because they’re better at their jobs than you could ever be. If you’re constantly breathing down their necks, then they’ll get the sense that you don’t trust their ability (even if you mean well).
What to do: Giving employees more autonomy is the easiest thing to fix on this list. You just need to step back and let your employees do their jobs. Treat them like the skilled professionals they are, and they’ll pay you back with increased job satisfaction and higher performance.
We should note that you shouldn’t confuse micromanaging a good employee with having to hold the hand of an incompetent employee. If someone isn’t doing good work or asking you to do their work for them, then you may need to have a conversation about whether they’re a good fit for your organization.
Reason 5: Unpleasant Work Environment
Toxic culture can cause good employees to leave, but sometimes it’s the physical office space itself that drives great talent away. A great software developer won’t tolerate using computers from 5 years ago, and no one wants to work in an office with uncomfortable chairs.
As the work you do becomes increasingly digital and abstract, it’s easy to forget that your employees still inhabit a physical office space. If this space is dirty, poorly maintained, or out of date, the best employees will not put up with it.
What to do: Make updated tech, a clean office, and comfortable surroundings a priority. These upgrades are not “frills”--they make a difference in employee productivity and retention. You don’t have to turn your office into a playground or spa, but do as much as you can to make your office comfortable and pleasant to be in.
Once again, this is where employee feedback can be invaluable. Don’t guess about what would improve your physical office space--ask your best people what would allow them to be more productive and happier.
Reason 6: Lack of Opportunity for Advancement
Last on our list of reasons that good employees leave is stagnation. If your best employees feel that their current job is a dead end, they’re going to seek opportunities elsewhere. To do so is only logical, as your best employees will also tend to be your most ambitious. And with the increased prevalence of job-hopping, switching to a new company in pursuit of career advancement is becoming the norm.
What to do: To make sure your best employees stick around, you need to do two things:
Create growth opportunities for current employees.
Make your employees aware of these opportunities.
If your company is growing and on the right track, the first step will take care of itself.
But for help with the second step, you can turn to Twine. We work with you to help you fill open roles with your best job candidates: people who have already chosen to work for you. We’ll make sure you retain your top talent, keeping them challenged, engaged, and productive. To learn more, set up a discovery call today.