why employees quit

Understanding Why Employees Quit

Knowing what makes employees quit — and then heading off those problems — is the goal of every HR department. While you’ll never be able to avoid individual events that disrupt the lives of workers and their families, it’s helpful to have an overview of preventable causes for employee churn. People leave jobs for several classic reasons, according to Harvard Business Review, all of which are somewhat predictable. The key is to understand each reason well enough to defuse it with a proactive intervention. Here are the main reasons workers cite for leaving their positions, and how you can slow this expensive leakage and build your employee retention:

They Don’t Get Along with Their Boss

This reason is the elephant in the room, and we can’t discuss employee retention without starting here. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton points out the primacy of management know-how: “When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

When an exit interview or other feedback shows that you have a problem manager, you need to rectify the situation as soon as possible. If the person seems open to developing new skills, it’s often worthwhile to provide them with intensive management training. However, if real change doesn’t seem possible, you’ll ultimately save money by replacing them with someone who simply has better management skills.

Their Lives Take a New Direction

This may be unexpected, but research cited in Harvard Business Review notes that job-hunting rates jump by 12 percent right before a worker’s birthday. Researchers speculate that a person is often stimulated by the arrival of their birthday or another milestone to take stock of their life and see if their career is going in the direction they want. While you have limited input into this private self-examination, it’s helpful to incorporate a personal check-in along with celebrating your employees’ birthdays. Are they happy with their job? What are their current thoughts and ambitions?

Their Careers Aren’t Moving Forward

In today’s networked marketplace, your most talented employees are going to keep an eye on opportunities in their field, and Gallup’s 2017 report on the State of the American Workforce finds that 51 percent of them are ready to jump ship at any given moment by actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Harvard Business Review notes that Credit Suisse responded to this tendency by having their internal recruiters cold-call employees to let them know about new openings arising within the company that they might be qualified to fill. This program ended up moving 300 employees into more challenging positions and saved the company $75 to $100 million in employee turnover costs.

They Don’t Feel Challenged

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield warns employers that they have to make sure their workers are actually using their skills and abilities, and Gallup’s report found that 68 percent of today’s workers feel they’re over-educated for their current positions. While this is related to building a career path, it’s not the same. A position may have a title that looks great on a resume, but if the day-to-day operations don’t actually feel interesting and engaging, the worker is going to be looking for the exit door. Heathfield notes, “Work closely with employees who report to you to ensure that each employee is engaged, excited, and challenged to contribute, create, and perform. Otherwise, you will lose them to an employer who will.”

The Company Lacks Vision

To keep great workers, you have to make it possible for them to feel aligned with a company vision that’s both meaningful and tangible. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, in his foreword to the 2017 report, puts it succinctly: “Change from a culture of “paycheck” to a culture of “purpose.” Your very best employees are the ones with a powerful sense of internal motivation, and you nurture that motivation by showing them how their efforts contribute to the overall goals of the company. CNBC notes, “Some of the most successful companies are able to attract and retain great employees because they are great at communicating their vision all the way from the top down to the front-line workers.”

Their Efforts Aren’t Recognized

While it’s essential to give your employees the sense of purpose mentioned above, that alone is not sufficient. Even your top workers, who care passionately about doing a good job, still have a psychological need to be recognized for the effort they expend. Emotional intelligence leader Travis Bradberry comments that a failure to recognize good work is one of the biggest mistakes a manager can make. He writes, “It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all.” Establishing a system for employee rewards and recognition is fundamental to nurturing those human resources that your company is lucky enough to have.

In today’s tight labor market, it’s more expensive than ever to lose a good worker. Josh Bersin of Deloitte points out that employees are “appreciating assets,” while the cost of losing one is generally about 1.5 to 2 times the person’s annual salary. Furthermore, the increasing team emphasis of many workplaces makes it harder than ever to integrate a new hire. Keeping your workers engaged is essential to running a successful business, and every manager needs to stay focused on this goal. To learn more about employee turnover, check out our infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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lacking work motivation

5 Signs It Might Be Time for a Career Change

Early in the movie Creed, a young Adonis Johnson Creed is working a day job at a security firm. After being promoted, he hands in his letter of resignation stating, “This career ain’t for me. Thanks for everything.” and moves to Philadelphia to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer.

This scene sets the tone for the entire movie. Adonis recognized that he had no passion for a white-collar business career. The life of a boxer, although extremely difficult, was where he felt his destiny lay.

The self-realization that Adonis goes through in Creed will not be the same for everyone, but there are clear-cut signs that you might be ready to move on from your current career.

Here are five signs that indicate you might be ready to pursue a different job or career.

1. You Are Bored All the Time

If you are constantly staring at the clock, counting down the seconds until the end of the work day or spending most of your time on Facebook or shopping online, you might be ready to leave your current job. Everyone experiences some boredom at work, but if you find yourself going through weeks of listlessness, then you might need to consider a different career path.

It is important to remain engaged and challenged in your profession. It’s how you get the most out of a company, and in turn, how a company gets the most out of you. Not only is work engagement rewarding, it can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, making you an all-around happier person

2. You Constantly Feel Overwhelmed

Just as boredom can be a killer, feeling overwhelmed can be the death knell for job performance. Perhaps you are good at your job, so your boss overloads you with added responsibility. Or maybe you are in a role that you are unqualified for, with little idea as to how to address the tasks on your plate. Either way, being swamped leads to a lot of stress and unhappiness.

If you feel as though any small setback is insurmountable and you are constantly irritated at work when things go wrong, it might be time to talk to your boss about how much work you have or consider a career change.

3. Your Goals Do Not Match the Company’s Goals

It’s very important that your goals and values, for both work and personal life, are aligned with the company you are working for. If they are not, you won’t be happy and your performance may suffer.

If your job forces you to travel often or work longer hours than you are comfortable with, or you want to become a manager but can’t see that happening at your current company, then your current employer might not be the best place to work in the long run. Better to cut ties now and find a company that is a better cultural fit than to be miserable and hope things change at your current company.

4. You Have Major Issues with Your Boss

Your colleagues have a major impact on your level of motivation and happiness. Even more so when the colleague in question is tasked with determining your workload. It’s no surprise then that the adage “people leave managers, not companies” has become increasingly applicable in describing why most people leave positions they are otherwise happy in. Having a terrible boss can be devastating to your personal engagement with a company, regardless of how great your job is.

If your boss is a micro manager, plays favorites, or calls people out in front of co-workers, this can be a very difficult situation to work through.  If you don’t feel like you can cope with your boss’ ineffective managerial techniques, then it’s probably time to peruse your favorite job board.

5. Your Skills Are Not Being Utilized

If you’ve been passed over for promotion multiple times and keeping getting all the dud assignments, then it is probably time to update your resume and embark on a job hunt. Either your bosses do not appreciate your work or they don’t trust your abilities.

You do not want to be stuck at a job in which growth opportunities are limited and your bosses do not recognize the value that you create. If you feel this is the case, then I highly recommend considering moving on from your current role or company.

Regardless of where you end up, you should feel motivated and appreciated, otherwise you will find yourself on the job market sooner rather than later. You need to make sure your personal goals line up with those of the company. Like Adonis Creed, do not be afraid of taking a risk career-wise if you think it is the right one for you. You spend much of your life working, so make sure that time is well spent.

Are you having a hard figuring out what you want to do with your career? Check out the blog post Finding Your Career Passion.

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About the Author
Sean Falconer is Founder and CTO of Proven. He is a proud Canadian and reformed academic. He is passionate about making hiring for small businesses simple, streamlined and frictionless. Follow Sean on Twitter @seanfalconer