Why Companies Need to Look at Why Employees Quit

5 min read
Dec 13, 2016

Employee turnover

Imagine you’re the owner of a small business that employs a little fewer than 50 people. In your mind, you’ve got a tight-knit group of employees who love showing up to work every day and are great at what they do. Things are going smoothly and have been for some time.

All of a sudden, one of your top performers marches into your office and lets you know that they’re taking a job at another company. You do your best to try to convince that person to stick around, asking if there’s anything you could do to make their job more enjoyable. But it’s too late — the worker has already made their decision. While this is certainly a setback for your company, you figure it’s only one person so it’s not the end of the world.

But if your top performer has jumped ship unexpectedly, who’s to say other workers won’t follow suit?


People Leave Their Jobs From Time to Time — This Is Nothing New

But when your best worker leaves without you even slightly suspecting it, you need to figure out why they are deciding to pursue other opportunities. There could be something structurally wrong with your organization, and if you don’t remedy it, your one employee departure could quickly snowball into 10.

One of the best ways to figure out why employees are quitting, of course, is by asking them directly. Conduct an exit interview with every departing worker to gauge what, if anything, you could have done differently to encourage them to stick around for the long term.

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Remember, it can cost as much as $15,000 to replace an employee. On top of that, new hires may take as long as six months before they’re able to fully contribute, according to the Harvard Business Review. In addition to having to fork over a significant amount of money to replace a worker, you’ll also have to figure out how to absorb your departing employee’s workload until your new hire can get up to speed. That may be easier said than done, particularly since nearly 70% of employees already feel overworked, as noted in our Engagement Report.

Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping your team is happy and that everyone stays put, you’d be much better off taking a proactive stance to determine whether your organization is guilty of creating a climate where employees are more likely to start their next job search.


What Causes Employees to Quit?

In order to discourage employees from leaving, you first need to know the primary reasons they choose to apply for jobs elsewhere. The most common causes of quitting include:


01. Your own managerial style

A recent Gallup study revealed that 50% of employees have left their jobs simply because they couldn’t stand working for their bosses. Ask yourself whether you ask too much of your employees. Are you the type of boss who leads by example? Or are you rarely in the office? If you’re a micromanager, remember that your employees are adults. When you manage every aspect of their entire jobs, there will be bad blood eventually.


02. Too much work

As noted above, a vast majority of workers already feel as though they have too much on their plates. You can’t force your employees to work 12-hour days all the time and expect them to stick around for the foreseeable future.


03. Not enough opportunity for career development

Today’s workers care a great deal about opportunities for career growth and professional development. Still, only 25% of workers feel as though their organizations offer enough opportunities for development, according to our Engagement Report. When’s the last time your company supported your employees in their career development? If you haven’t spent a dime on trade shows, online learning modules, or seminars in forever, you should probably prepare for at least one employee to have a foot out the door.

Reasons for turnover 

04. Employees don’t get recognized for their hard work

It’s not exactly inspiring to bust your tail on a huge project, do a great job, and not receive any positive feedback on it. Studies show that employee recognition is linked to employee happiness. If you’re not recognizing your employees’ efforts, they may very well look for a company that will.


05. Companies don’t keep workers abreast of what’s going on

Your employees pour their hearts and souls into your company for at least 40 hours every week. When you don’t share major news with them and they’re caught off guard by a major announcement, it doesn’t exactly build trust. The more transparent you are with the state of your company, the more likely your employees will be to stick around.


06. The wrong people get promoted

If you’ve ever seen an unqualified coworker get promoted because they’re close friends with the boss, you know how demoralizing that could be. Whenever you decide to promote internally — and you should as often as you can — be sure to pick the best person for the job. Otherwise, the rest of the team may harbor some resentment and figure it’s time to launch their job search.


07. Employees have very rigidly defined roles

When employees have to do the same tasks over and over and over again, it gets a little monotonous, to say the least. Instead of making your employees work in very narrowly defined roles, you’d be much better off allowing them to pursue pet projects and get experience outside of their own departments. In addition to switching things up, it also enables them to develop new skills and learn new things.


08. Workers don’t get paid enough

According to our Engagement Report, nearly 25% of workers would take a job elsewhere if it came with a 10% pay increase. You don’t have to necessarily shower your employees with cash (though it probably wouldn’t hurt), but you can’t expect your workers to stick around if you never increase their pay. Since it costs so much to replace an employee, a 10% pay bump might actually cost less than having to hire someone new.


Once you figure out why your employees are quitting, you can start working to improve things to convince the rest of the team to stick around. The end result? A healthier bottom line and a more experienced workforce that’s able to deliver exemplary service to your customers.



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