Whenever an employee leaves your company, the reason why can leave you scratching your head. Was it a new, better opportunity? Were they offered more money? Were they just looking for a change?
If you’ve been in any position of leadership long enough, you’ve probably spent countless hours trying to guess why employees leave.
As a leader, you can do yourself and your company a favor by digging deeper and identifying the real reasons for why you are losing employees.
Here’s why you’re losing employees
You can’t always control the factors involved in losing employees. However, there are several manageable reasons.
Below is a list of the most common reasons. We’ll cover each in depth, and then we’ll offer up actions you can take right away.
1. Company Culture
Company culture refers to the type of workplace environment at your organization. In companies where positive culture is not a priority, even the top employees start looking for employment elsewhere.
It’s critical for company culture to promote positive values, expectations, and goals. Set the standard for a positive company culture. Your employees will develop better relationships and even become more productive.
“When an employee fits in with the culture, they are also likely to want to work for that company for longer. Thus, employers can improve productivity and employee retention through a strong office culture.” – Alison Doyle, Understanding Company Culture
Company culture is #1 on this list for a reason. When you get company culture right, your employees will be happier on the job and more likely to work for you longer.
2. Feeling Overworked
Employees feel overworked because of your expectations for them, or as a result of their own decision.
Feeling overworked quickly turns to burnout. This is not something you want anyone on your team (especially your superstars) to experience.
As a manager, you need to be proactive in managing employees’ workload. Frequently check in with members of your team to see how they’re handling their work.
“It’s natural to want your employees to be as productive as possible, and every company will have occasional times that are busier than others. But don’t make the common mistake of wearing out your top talent.” – Karen Cavanaugh, Overworked employees: 6 warning signs to watch for
When you have an idea of how employees manage their work, you can provide guidance and support for them to be more efficient in order to avoid burnout.
3. Lack of Vision
It’s your job to be clear about the company vision. When the company vision is clear, employees understand where the organization is headed in the future.When team members know what the vision is, they can understand their role and daily objectives from a meaningful perspective.
“Leaders need to make sure that even amidst a sea of change, employees feel like they are rowing in the same direction towards the same vision.” – Ryan Caldbeck, Company Vision: What It Is and Why It Matters
You want employees that are aware of the company vision. Help them connect the dots between what they do and how it moves the organization closer to the intended future results.
4. Not Enough Coaching and Feedback
Giving feedback and being able to coach your employees can work wonders in helping improve your team’s performance.
As a leader, you always need to be improving your skills of coaching and giving feedback to the individuals on your team.Any manager can tell their employees what to do, but a true leader (someone who can coach) has the ability to tap into the potential of their employees.
You should know the individual strengths of each employee so that you can coach them to build on those strengths.
“Establishing a continuous coaching model in your organization will create a frequent reciprocal feedback cycle between managers and employees, resulting in stronger collective performance, which will drive your business results and make you more competitive.” – Libby Mullen, Why Develop Employee Feedback and Coaching Skills for Managers?
Additionally, try challenging employees to stretch themselves by stepping outside their comfort zone. This will not only help them at work and in life, it will create a workplace of individuals who are continuously learning and growing.
5. Lack of Recognition
If you recognize employees for their accomplishments, here’s what will occur:
- You’ll experience improved employee retention and your employees will be happier
- Workplace culture will encourage self-improvement
- Your acknowledgement/appreciation of your team will boost their morale
“A winning employee recognition program starts with having a company culture that advocates appreciation for top performers. This can be the foundation for solid staff engagement, continuous employee development, and retention strategy for the future.” – Nikos Andriotis, Employee Recognition in the Workplace: The Why and How
Acknowledging and appreciating employees sets you apart. Many workers feel under appreciated, and you could probably be doing a better job of showing your team gratitude for their job(s) well done.
6. They’re Bored
Employees won’t stick around long if they’re bored.
When you notice your team becoming bored with their work, try giving them more flexibility to show their creativity. Many of the tasks employees are required to complete may be improved by adding the freedom to be creative.
“Boredom creeps in when we least expect it — and we don’t notice until it’s too late. Keep an eye out for signs that employees are feeling more disinterested than empowered. If you can offer ways to flex their creative muscles or try something new, you might keep an employee — and discover some seriously valuable assets in the process.” – Gene Hammett, Boring Your Employees with Routine Work Is Killing Productivity. Do This Instead
Another way to switch things up in these situations is to foster an environment of teamwork. Collaboration with co-workers will give employees a fresh angle of their work.
Micromanaging your employees is one of the quickest ways to drain their engagement. Employees are disengaged when they feel their work is put under the microscope, no matter what project they’re working on.
Micromanagement not only kills engagement, it’s terrible for productivity. If you’re a micromanager, you’ll not only drive your best employees away, you’ll sacrifice your own productivity! You’re doing the work and/or over-complicating the work process for your team.
“When you micromanage you’re telling the employee that you don’t trust them enough to work on their own and still produce good results. This is what leads to employees getting annoyed with managers and damaging the trust they have in the higher-ups.” – Ben Mulholland, Don’t Micromanage: How It Destroys Your Team and How to Avoid It
You are much better off looking for ways to engage your team, rather than trying to manage every detail.
Managers who play favorites in the workplace not only risk complacent and resentful employees, they also run the risk of illegal favoritism based on age, race, religion, or sex (this is discrimination).
When it’s clear to your employees that you have favorites, you need to fix this or else your productivity will plummet as the “less-favored” employees pack up and leave. When you have favorites, the goals of the company receive less focus.
“Favoritism is all but inevitable, even in workplaces with high standards of performance and conduct and robust methods of accurate evaluation, but it can be reduced as much as possible with conscious and systematic effort.” – Eric Howard, Avoiding Favoritism in the Workplace
Make sure you determine what is considered fair work among the entire team. If playing favorites is a challenge for you, try evaluating yourself more often in order to recognize when your liable to act in favor of certain employees.
9. Too Much (or Too Little) Work
Stress at work is often avoided due burnout, some stress at work can be good for challenging employees to grow. Too little stress will result in a bored employee, and we discussed the disadvantages of this earlier.
The key to knowing how much work to assign your employees is to make sure to have an ideal amount of work that is just right in challenging them to grow and push themselves.
“Stress is not a dirty word. Excessive stress hurts, too little stress bores, but a moderate amount of stress gets the job done.” – Andrew Yap, Too Much, Too Little, Just Right: Stress At Work, And The Goldilocks Principle
Be mindful of how much work the individuals on your team are doing each day/week so you know whether to motivate them to do a little more or encourage them and let them know they can take it easy.
10. No Opportunities for Advancement
If you don’t provide opportunities for advancement, you’ll likely find your employees leaving for other companies who do
When employees feel trapped/stuck in their current position, it won’t be long until they begin looking to work somewhere else. While these employees are still at your company with no sign of advancement, expect a drop in morale from them and potentially other employees.
“Although the short-term financial gains of limiting your employees’ advancement opportunities might be obvious, long-term problems can develop when you fail to promote your employees.” – Wilhelm Schnotz, Problems That Can Develop Without Promotion With Employees
It’s more difficult to create advancement opportunities in some business than others. One strategy is to create incentives and goals for your employees. There should always be a target your team to aim for. Give your team goals that are in line with the company vision.
Here’s what to do now
Now that you’ve learned about why you’re losing employees, here are 3 actionable steps that you can take to stop them.
First, reward the individual(s) on your team who embody company values, so you’re able to improve company culture, as mentioned by Alison Doyle above. For example, MyEmployees awards a “Values Champion of the Month” to acknowledge the person who most clearly represents our values.
Second, make a commitment to give as much guidance to your employees as possible, so you can improve coaching and feedback the way Libby Mullen described in the section on coaching and feedback. Also, welcome additional feedback from your team so they believe their voice will be heard.
Finally, use employee recognition to combat favoritism. Deploy strategic and objective criteria so your employees know exactly what they need to do to become a superstar.
MyEmployees has been helping managers improve employee experience for over 30 years. To reinforce your employee retention strategy, check out more of the content from our learning center so you can become a better leader!
For more great leadership tips, check out…
Improve Employee Retention with Coaching
Tips for Leadership Success: 12 Point To Do List to Become a Top 10% Manager (updated 7/7/20)
5 Keys to Fixing Communication Before You Lose Another Employee [Updated 6/29/20]
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