The Top 5 Reasons Employees Leave Their Jobs & What To Do About Them

The Great Resignation. You’ve definitely heard of it. You are also likely aware that the current workforce and job market are like nothing we have ever encountered. People are leaving their jobs in droves, and there are an unprecedented amount of open positions available.

It is more important now than ever to retain great talent by providing your employees top-tier benefits, best management practices, flexible working arrangements, and respect for the hard work they do for you and your company. In fact, according to Kronos, almost 90% of HR leaders consider employee retention a primary concern. Let’s dive into some of the most popular reasons people are leaving their jobs and what can be done about them.

Employee handing a resignation letter to manager at desk.

Why Good Employees Leave Their Jobs

There are lots of reasons people decide to leave their jobs, and employers aren’t the cause for some of those reasons, like taking a break from the workforce to start a family or resigning in order to start a business. However, a Pew Research study from 2021 found that most workers cited these three reasons for leaving: low pay (63%), lack of advancement opportunities (63%), and feeling disrespected at work (57%). Other very common reasons employees leave their jobs are due to management issues, a lack of communication, and coworker conflicts.

Many of these reasons are avoidable, so let’s discuss what can be done about them to protect your employees from becoming a victim of these issues:

1. Low pay

Is your organization trying to plump up your bottom line at the expense of properly compensating employees? At first glance, paying your workers the lowest the market will bear may seem like a great financial decision, but doing so really just ensures your employees will gain some experience and then head out the door at their first chance of a better paying opportunity. 

There’s no problem at all with hiring lots of entry-level candidates, but be sure to seriously analyze pay every year, ideally in an annual review, and be welcoming and responsive to employee requests for pay increases.

2. Lack of advancement opportunities

Some people become very comfortable in their careers and are not interested in changing positions or climbing the corporate ladder. That’s okay. But for every person who is completely happy staying where they are, you likely have at least two or three employees thinking about their next career move. 

If your organization does a poor job of explaining and offering advancement opportunities, these highly motivated and high-achieving employees will begin searching for new opportunities after a few years. Be sure to communicate all open positions, future management restructuring and forecasted needs, and try to hire from within whenever possible. 

3. Feeling disrespected at work

The issue of not feeling disrespected at work can stem from a variety of situations that mostly boil down to poor management and possibly relates to issues involving low pay. If your employees do not feel like their work is appreciated, if their assignments are unclear, if there’s a lack of transparency and poor communication? That’s a recipe for disaster, and probably a major exodus.

Creating and fostering a healthy workplace environment and having multiple ways to show appreciation for the hard work of your employees is absolutely pivotal for the future success of your company. Consider taking inventory of the ways you thank your employees (the big and the small ways) and be sure to investigate the management practices of any manager whose department experiences unusually high turnover.

4. Management issues

According to a report last year from GoodHire, a whopping 82% of people say they would quit their job because of a bad manager. 

If an employee feels distrusted or as if they are consistently blamed for issues, it’s likely that they’re already planning their exit. Additionally, supervisors who micromanage their employees are far less likely to retain top talent on their team. Micromanagement affects employee morale, drives away skilled and motivated people, reduces productivity, and stifles innovation.

If employees feel like they are being overworked, are not being recognized for their work, that the company or their manager does not care about employee well-being, or if the organization does a poor job of hiring the right people for the right job, it may be time to investigate management practices. You may consider offering management training or moving a problematic current manager to a different position.

Professional leadership that highlights employee strengths while addressing and improving weaknesses is an example of the type of effective employee retention techniques that show employees they are an integral part of an organization’s structure and success. A thoughtful, caring managerial attitude reassures employees that they are on a meaningful career path. 

5. Poor Communication Practices

A 2018 study of 1,000 U.S. workers found that 63% of them want to leave their jobs due to lack of communication in the organization. The level and quality of communication that employees receive directly affects their ability to do their jobs, which plays an important role in how long they remain at a job.

Good communication can be difficult, especially in a remote or hybrid situation, but there are plenty of ways you can improve communication in your workplace, be it virtual or in-person. 

First and foremost, make sure expectations are set clearly for your employees, and allow them time and space to reflect and ask questions or for guidance. It’s also important that you consider all the ways in which your employees and your leadership communicate. Lack of communication can be a huge driver of miscommunication, but digital overload and having too many communication channels with unclear boundaries between them can also have a negative impact.  

What Managers Can Do to Retain Top Talent

Employee retention remains critical when it comes to reducing hiring and training costs. Furthermore, promoting good employees from within the organization helps to establish and maintain quality performance, increases employee retention, and can save time and money. 

There are plenty of other great, everyday employee retention strategies you can implement today:

  • Clearly communicate your company mission
  • Require transparency through the use of project management tools
  • Engage in workplace wellness strategies
  • Encourage employees to ask questions and try new things
  • Consider flexible working arrangements
  • Provide robust professional development programs

Managers who support their employees’ growth and development within the organization and who cultivate a positive work environment are more likely to retain valuable employees. As a result, employee retention techniques should be implemented to reduce turnover and increase the productivity and overall happiness in your organization.

Further Resources

Great working relationships are vital to an organization’s overall efficiency and future success. Providing professional development opportunities is an excellent way to recruit, hire, and train employees. Check out KnowledgeCity’s Learning Library with over 20,000 courses on management best practices, communication skills, and more.

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