Why Good Employees Leave

Attrition is a major concern for business leaders, and it’s not one which can be easily resolved. When a good employee leaves your organization, you’re not only facing the immediate costs of hiring and training a new employee, the bottom line is also impacted by the internal knowledge that key employees take with them. There are ways to mitigate these costs and risks – such as having a recruitment strategy and talent pipeline in place for backfilling roles and creating robust knowledge transfer processes – but if you hope to tackle the root cause and not just alleviate the symptoms, it’s important to understand why good employees leave an organization. To do this, we’ll explore information from a recent LinkedIn report from one of the world’s largest studies on the subject.

Reason #1: Lack of Career Advancement

It may come as a surprise to some, but the number one reason that employees left their jobs was not due to money or work/life balance, but rather due to a concern about a perceived lack of advancement opportunity within the organization. Good employees are ambitious, so they will be looking for room to grow. If they can’t find those developmental opportunities in your organization, then they are going to look elsewhere.

Reason #2: Poor Leadership

The leadership of an organization is a major key to its success. Your employees are only as empowered as their leaders enable them to be, so it’s little wonder that so many of those who felt unsatisfied with the leadership of senior management left their roles. Choosing the right senior leaders is crucial to the happiness of every employee in your organization.

Reason # 3: Poor Cultural/Environmental Fit

Workplace culture is difficult to define. Each organization has its own unique culture and environment. Some employees thrive in fast-paced, lean cultures while others prefer a steady and deliberate pace and need plenty of resources to thrive. It’s important that hiring managers screen for cultural fit during the hiring process, and if you identify a “toxic” element in your organization’s culture, making a cultural change could have a big impact on your attrition rates.

Reason #4: Compensation

While compensation is certainly important to employees, you may be surprised to find it this far down on the list. However, Compensation and Benefits satisfaction (or rather, the lack thereof) was still a major driving factor in employees’ decision to leave a job. Market surveys should be used to ensure that your organization is paying competitively or you stand the risk of losing good employees to the highest bidder.

Reason #5: Lack of Recognition

 More than just an appreciated pat on the back, recognition and rewards for a job well done are critical to an employee’s sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Many companies have formalized recognition programs, while others rely on frontline leaders to provide that recognition. There is no “correct” way to congratulate an employee for exceptional performance, but it is important that you find a way to do so. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be monetary (although you aren’t likely to hear any complaints if they are), it is simply important to employees to feel that they’ve made a difference.

While attrition remains a moving target and motivations to change jobs are always complex, by better understanding your employees’ needs and working proactively to ensure they are met, you can have a very tangible impact on your ability to retain top talent. Not limited to any one issue, attrition is contributed to by any number of combinations of the factors listed above. Each is as important as the last to your employees’ happiness and longevity, so any effort that can be made to improve the above five areas will have far-reaching positive impacts.


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