Most of the time we focus on why people lose their jobs, but a CEB study focuses on when people leave their jobs. It turns out that people often compare themselves to others in their peer group — and when they don’t stack up well, they start looking elsewhere.
The researchers found that those times of transition and reflection made people more likely to leave their jobs. For example, work anniversaries and birthdays give people an opportunity to take stock. During these times, job-hunting activities increased by up to 9%, according to that same CEB study.
Large peer gatherings, like high school class reunions, were also times when people started to look for new work. Job searches increased by 16% immediately following these events. People think comparatively when it comes to how their careers are going. And with the economic recovery of the last few years, they have more options available.
Companies Taking Action
Businesses are becoming increasingly sophisticated in analyzing employee activities. They’re determined to discover if an employee is considering leaving. Turnover is incredibly expensive, and businesses want to hold on to talented employees.
That’s why they’re checking everything from employee social media activity to the number of times employees leave the building during the day. (Increased activity in either is an indication that employees are looking for work or setting up job interviews.) Although monitoring provides information, it doesn’t do much to improve retention. Consider this, 50% of employees who accept a counteroffer end up leaving their employer within a year anyway.
Stop the Problem Before It Starts
If your solution is to stalk employees and jump when you see evidence of job hunting, it’s probably not going to work. At that point, you’re simply too late to do much of anything effective.
If you have a retention issue, you may be able to isolate it to a few factors. For example, is there one manager who’s particularly difficult to work for? Are you hiring employees who are objectively excellent at their jobs but don’t necessarily work well together?
Keeping employees engaged in their jobs isn’t easy, but it is crucial. Our research has found that employees value their coworkers the most. After all, who wouldn’t want to work with people they love? They’re also looking for meaningful professional development and opportunities to grow in their job. One other important factor is workplace culture — people want to work for a company with values that they share.
When employers fail to provide these, employees will hop on LinkedIn or start making calls to their contacts. Hopefully, during your employee’s next high school reunion, they’ll take a look at their job and think they’re doing well.
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