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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ACE 2017

Event Activities at ACE 2017 in New Orleans, September 12-13, 2017

The effect of employee engagement on key business objectives is staggering. According to Gallup, highly engaged business units see:

  • a 17 percent increase in productivity
  • 24 percent less employee turnover
  • a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism

With such dramatic increases in crucial aspects of business sustainability, the importance of employee engagement cannot be ignored. While there are numerous techniques used to address specific business objectives, cultivating a culture of engagement can result in improvements across a large swath of these seemingly disconnected categories.

If your organization is suffering in business-critical areas such as those described above, please join us at our biggest event of the year, Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017.

Our incredible two-day conference is calling The Big Easy home this year, so make plans to be at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans on September 12-13. You’ll have the opportunity to network with hundreds of HR thought leaders, executives, and experts, offering their thoughts as to how to implement and maintain a world-class engagement program.

The fun isn’t limited to just ACE. The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala kicks-off the festivities the evening prior. Not only does The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards recognize the employers in North America that best display innovation in engaging their workplaces, it features a variety of opportunities for inspiration and education. Past winners include top brands, such as KPMG, Netsuite, Smart & Final, and Ericsson. Join us to rub elbows with the top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space.

Jump In On ACE’s 3 Tracks

With three presentation tracks designed to inspire, innovate, and engage, you’ll gain insight as to how some of the most successful companies have leveraged employee engagement to meet key business objectives.

  1. Aspire (Thought Leadership Track) – Some of the most innovative minds in HR offer their thoughts on topics such as engaging the modern workforce and using value alignment to drive engagement.
  2. Achieve (Customer Success Track) – Learn how the most successful Achievers customers launched and leveraged their engagement and recognition platform to increase engagement across borders and obtain measurable business results.
  3. Accelerate (Product Track) – Achievers product experts demonstrate the capabilities of the Achievers platform, and how to use them to maximize ROI and ensure the most important engagement challenges of our customers are being met.

Be Inspired by This Year’s Keynote Speakers

Leave ACE 2017 feeling inspired and motivated by our amazing lineup of keynote speakers. 

David Novak






David Novak
Former Chairman & CEO, YUM Brands
Author of “The Unlikely CEO” and “Taking People with you”

As CEO of YUM (the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), David was responsible for overseeing more than 41,000 restaurants in over 120 countries, employing over 1.5 million employees worldwide.

Novak’s leadership and drive to empower diverse workforces is the very bedrock of Yum!’s astounding growth story. Novak’s deep commitment to building great leaders and a vibrant organization is best evidenced by the fact that he has personally trained thousands of Yum! managers while he was CEO. In his book and in his keynote presentation, Novak delivers a battle-tested leadership guide on how to build great companies through developing great talent. 

Carey Lohrenz






Carey Lohrenz
First Female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy

Having flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy pilot, Carey Lohrenz is used to working in fast moving, dynamic environments, where inconsistent execution can generate catastrophic results. The same challenges are found in business: markets change, customer needs evolve and if you do not adapt quickly your company is at risk.

Carey is a powerhouse in the field of delivering engaging leadership, high performing organizations and diversity training that directly impacts a company’s ROI and bottom line. Her experience in the all-male environment of fighter aviation and her ability to pass on the lessons Learned in her career allow her to deliver insight and guidance from a credible platform on women’s leadership Issues.

In addition to our amazing lineup of keynote speakers, we will also be offering breakout sessions from thought leaders such as:

Cara Silletto





Cara Silletto
President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies

Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a company committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover for clients across the country by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles.

Tamra Chandler





Tamra Chandler
CEO and Co-Founder of PeopleFirm

Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms.

Ben Eubanks





Ben Eubanks
Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research

Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe.

And this is just a taste of some of the speakers this year. Check out the entire list of ACE 2017 speakers here.

Stay tuned for more updates and details on ACE 2017, as well as a series of guest blogs from featured speakers at this year’s event. Also, don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #AACE17 and by following @Achievers on Twitter.

Register now to claim your spot at ACE 2017. The first Po’ boy is on me. See you in New Orleans!

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.





Engage Millennials in the Workplace

6 Easy Ways to Make Your Team Millennial-Friendly

With a steady increase in employable candidates, and the continued exodus of baby boomers, millennials are now in a position to have a major influence on their workplaces. But according to a recent study by Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; millennials make no secret as to what they feel makes a workplace engaging. They want challenging, rewarding work in a team-oriented culture. Based on the knowledge above, it doesn’t hurt to ask: Are you actively molding your team dynamics to meet millennials’ expectations? Are you working on the transition from a ‘command and control’ structure to a network of cooperative and inclusive teams?

If the answer to the questions above is “no”, don’t fret, you don’t need a full overhaul of your business model to improve employee engagement and sense of fulfilment of your impact-driven millennial employees. Here are 6 easy ways to make your team millennial-friendly.

business employees

1. Empower small, agile project teams

In today’s fast-paced, global business environment, maximizing value streams is key to maintaining a competitive edge.

To do so, organizations often prioritize increasing their margins through best practices and efficiency. However younger employees tend to derive value from innovation and continuous results.

But it is possible to be cost-efficient and millennial-friendly at the same time. To do so organize work into small projects owned by agile, flexible teams.

Agile teams operate in a low-cost environment. They quickly address problems with solutions by bringing together business improvement concepts with customers and senior level colleagues.

By operating in project-mode, you create an ecosystem that meets 3 millennial needs:

2. Adopt transparency in communication and leverage popular mediums

In a world where work can be done anytime, anywhere, accurate and fluid communication can be a challenge for any organization.

Your young, socially-connected workforce expects information to be widely available in a timely fashion. For them, transparency from top to bottom creates a sense of collaboration.

Collaborative discussions and open-feedback loops will be helpful if you want to make your team millennial-friendly. Another efficient way to build trust across the organization is to bring strategic messages closer to employees.

Video technology allows executives to share a strategic message directly with their teams. Why not create a short “welcome” video from your CEO for new hires? Or take advantage of live video and share short messages in real-time?

3. Flatten organizational structures

A well-known contributor of employee engagement is a sense that an individual’s contributions have influence on the success of an organization as a whole.

A good way to achieve this is to give your millennials the freedom to be part of the decision-making process. If your organizational structure doesn’t allow a collaborative process for decisions, you risk deflating your young talents’ sense of leadership.

Take the Swedish company, Spotify, for example: Spotify creates engagement by balancing autonomy and accountability.

Spotify’s core organizational unit is an autonomous squad of no more than eight people, […] accountable for a discrete aspect of the product […] Several squads (are) linked together through a chapter, which is a horizontal grouping that helps to support specific competencies […]. Leadership within the squad is self-determined, while the chapter leader is a formal manager who focuses on coaching and mentoring.”

Spotify’s horizontal structure redistributes decision-making across employees, in contrast to traditional top-down, hierarchical models. This results in faster response times while simultaneously holding employees accountable for their ideas.

Not ready for a full overhaul? Not to worry, it’s still possible to reinforce your employees’ sense of responsibility and autonomy without undertaking a total business transformation. Small changes in your operating model can indicate that you value cross-functional collaboration over typical management control.

For instance, you can empower teams to discover best practice methods, and encourage adoption of these approaches from the bottom up. Or ask team leaders to embrace a coaching mindset that aligns with millennials’ need for regular feedback.

Employee Coffee

4. Change the focus of your meetings 

With the always-connected nature of millennials, massive amounts of information is consistently at their fingertips. And with the expectation that this information is to be digested and distilled into valuable bits to present to a team, establishing a well-defined focus for team meetings can create an environment ripe for actively exchanging ideas. According to the 2016 Deloitte millennial survey, the ideal millennial workweek includes 4.6 hours spent discussing ideas and new ways of working.

An easy way to make your team millennial-friendly is to carve out some time for “thought showers”; open discussions on lessons learned and continuous improvement. Alternatively, you can increase their sense of contribution by giving your young talent a spotlight to share their perspectives on a topic or cause they’re passionate about, or a cause they care strongly about.

5. Rethink flexibility

Flexibility is often seen as ‘flexi-time’ and work-from-home practices. These are elements of a culture of trust, and known factors in talent retention.

But flexibility can, and should, go far beyond this. What about encouraging flexibility of ideas, and diversity of thought?

An “open-door policy” towards new ideas embeds a culture of collaboration, innovation, and equality. At the same time, mentoring programs encourage cross-pollination of skills across generations, making employees more adaptable to rapidly changing business objectives. Promoting cultural intelligence within global teams brings various creative perspectives together.

A millennial-friendly team is flexible in the way it operates, and in the way its members think.

6. Make the team work for a higher cause

Team building significantly helps to retain talent, according to 79% of millennials polled by The Go Game.

But for a young workforce that takes pride in contributing to wider causes, team building activities must go to the next level. 76% of millennials regard businesses as a force for positive social impact. 

You can make your teams millennial-friendly by organizing charity days, or better yet, offering ‘volunteering leave’ so employees can partake in people-centric activities (e.g. involvement in LGBT or corporate responsibility).

By supporting such initiatives, you show that the team is, first and foremost, a group who share similar human values.

Mobile work

A small set of actions is all it takes to get started making your team millennial-friendly. Initiatives that connect directly to your young talents’ sense of purpose are easy to introduce but highly rewarding. These include improving collaboration across teams, fostering a sense of contribution, encouraging millennials to take responsibility, and enhancing transparency at all levels of the organization.

Now, what if you want to take employee engagement to a deeper level? Young generations want their values to be shared by the organizations they work for. So involve your millennials in office culture improvement, by giving them the freedom to find creative ways to internally promote your set of core values.

Want to create a magnetic culture? Access this webinar recording.

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About the Author
Coralie SawrukCoralie helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie provides Strategic Business Transformation services across the globe, and mentors ambitious talents who want to become role models. Visit Coralie’s website or get in touch on LinkedIn.





The Engaged Workplace

The Engaged Workplace: More than Free Lunch

“How do I keep my top employees happy and excited to come to work?”

Whether you’re a high level manager, an HR professional or a small business owner, chances are you’ve asked yourself this question at least once. Happy employees are something companies strive for. After all, they’re the ones that stick around, right? And from a business perspective, happy employees deliver results. 

But in today’s millennial-laden workforce, where bean bag chairs, cocktail hours, and free lunches are almost a given, it takes a bit more to keep your top talent chipper.

sandwich platter

One thing we do know: employee satisfaction is about more than just a fully-stocked fridge. Employees crave a stimulating environment that keeps them engaged – one that cultivates teamwork, innovation, and real-time feedback.

Take MGM Resorts International for example: just five short years ago, MGM was on the verge of bankruptcy. Today, MGM is an industry leader in hospitality and entertainment. What changed?

“I am most proud of our people philosophy,” says Michelle DiTondo, SVP of HR at MGM. “We built all of our strategies, competencies, and culture initiatives around engaging and inspiring (our employees).”

At Achievers, we believe in recognizing companies who go beyond catered Indian food to cultivate an environment of employee engagement. That’s why we named MGM Resorts one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in both 2013 and 2014.

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards recognizes top employers that display leadership and innovation in engaging their employees.

How do you keep your employees inspired to come to work every day? Share how your company’s employee engagement strategy has changed your workplace for the better – and inspire other companies to follow suit.

Apply Today to be one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™, and earn recognition as a top employer in the modern workplace. We’d love to hear your story, even if it includes a free meal here and there.

*Applications open to companies of 1000 or more employees in North America