why employees leave

Why Do Your Awesome Employees Leave You?

Employees are valuable resources that keep a business running smoothly at all levels. Do you value your resources? You do? Great! So, do you show them? Perhaps you think you show them, and that you show them well. However, the interpretation of this may be quite different if you were to ask your employees how they truly feel. If you begin to see your longtime employees leaving the organization, it may be time to investigate and nip it in the bud. Of course employees may leave at any point during their tenure for new opportunities, but you should be working hard to make sure they do not want to leave. Most importantly because not only is turnover expensive monetarily, but also when employees leave they take with them a significant amount of your business’ knowledge, expertise, and experience which is hard to replace. 

Reasons Your Employees Quit

Face it- employees are people and should not be commoditized. You need not coddle employees; however, the employee relationship should be nurtured from all levels of the organization. From my experience, these are some of the reasons that employees leave:
  1. Management Stinks: Not everyone can be an effective leader. They must get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it (GWC), or they will drag your team down. Some “leaders” take the approach of dominance that stifles your employees’ creativity and morale, which quite simply, diminishes their ability to be effective. Some are just not effective in their methods of communication, engagement, and team relations. If you have toxic leaders, it may be time to coach them or replace them.
  2. Lacking Clear Expectations: A lack of clear performance expectations is a significant factor in an employee’s happiness or unhappiness. Employees want to know what is expected of them so that they can meet expectations, and hopefully, for your sake so that they can exceed them. But if they do not know what you expect from them, how can they gauge where they fail? Or how can they continue to work to meet or exceed your expectations? Not communicating clear expectations causes confusion and lack of confidence when they submit work only to be told, “it was not what was sought out” or “was missing key points” they were not aware were important. Of course, we want employees that take the torch and run with it, and some are really, really good at this. Others are not. Save yourselves the headache and be clear and concise with your expected outcome and don’t forget to include essential items that are not negotiable in the final product. 
  3. Lack of Challenge and Opportunities for Growth: Employees will often stick with a job because they enjoy the work they do. However, if you are not challenging them or providing an opportunity for advancement, at some point they will decide to jump ship and seek employment elsewhere to advance their careers. When an employee tells an employer, they are leaving, the first reaction is often to throw more money at them. Money is not the only answer, and is typically only a temporary fix that will wear off eventually. A new challenging project or an opportunity for the employee to advance is far more encouraging to keep them with your company for the long-term.
  4. They are Overworked, Constantly: Of course you want hard workers; however, you do not want to burn them out. When employees become overwhelmed, and consistently feel as though they are running a million miles a minute and never get a chance to reenergize, they will inevitably become burned out. They become less engaged and productive, and all too often this leads employees to seek new opportunities outside of your organization because they will start wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.
  5. Lack of appreciation: Do not just say you appreciate your employees; show them. You would be surprised as to what small things you can do to show your employees appreciation and, believe it or not, it will mean the world to them. Do not just think throwing money at them solves this, either. Something as small as a verbal “thank you” or public praise at a staff meeting speaks volumes. 

Get a Pulse on Your Employees

Okay. So you understand that your employees are valuable. How do you regularly get a pulse on your employees’ engagement and happiness? The first thing to do is to solicit feedback from them. There are many powerful survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey or QuestionPro that can be used to solicit employee feedback in an anonymous manner. Why is allowing for anonymous feedback necessary?  If your employees’ responses are anonymous, they are much more likely to provide valuable, honest and constructive feedback. Not everyone has the guts to tell you the good, bad, and the ugly face to face.

A feedback survey should not consist of a billion and one questions that take forever to complete. In fact, that is probably the worst thing you could do. You will lose the value in soliciting feedback if the survey is too long and arduous, you will just end up with quick minimal responses because they may rush to complete the billion questions. Narrow it down to 10 questions or less, and develop these questions around your core values. If you do not have core values- create some with your Leadership team and live by them in your organization.

Another method is to utilize a tool such as OfficeVibe. This tool engages your employees without distracting them from their priorities while providing you the feedback needed to ensure you can nip issues in the bud before they get out of hand. 

Something else to foster in your organization is a true “open door policy.” Employees should feel like they have the ability and opportunity to discuss and address issues or concerns with middle and top management at any time and without worry of retaliation. Always make time for your employees.

Make your organization a place where people want to work. Not just a place they have to work in order to pay their bills. The value gained from employees who want to work for you will be far greater than that of employees who just feel like they have to work for you. 
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Mallory M. Whalen, Director of Human Resources
Mallory M. Whalen

Director of Human Resources

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