Employee retention is a key issue for senior management jobs, mainly because of the efficiency and productivity loses when senior talent is lost. About 65% of candidates are actively or passively always looking for jobs. This begs the key question: why do good employees leave?
Many employers do not seem to be asking their ‘good employees’ what the challenges are or rather what would make them stay in their current jobs.
Top 7 reasons reasons why good employees leave
- Tangible rewards and appreciation is low: This means they do not feel that they are being compensated enough for their work. The paycheck seems too low and they feel under-appreciated. An issue of rewards can also be communication issue more than real salaries. Many employees may eventually stay back if they feel important in a way to a team or project. And not necessarily get swayed by a high figure. Although, it is equally important for employees to benchmark salaries and ensure that they are maintaining competitive remunerations. In addition, a day care center or unlimited vacations may be valued over the mere salary, which is also something employers can work with.
- The management doesn’t care: Plenty of employees are miffed by toxic leadership and bosses who do not show empathy. This means leadership that is all too eager to share the credits but takes a step back when something goes wrong and tries to put the blame on one employee. The sad part is that, this may not even directly be happening to the employee who is leaving, but even if it happens to someone they know, the impact is strong. Mary David has great insights on this one saying:
When there is work to be done, its management’s duty to enforce, engage, and often times implement reward systems to keep employees satisfied and loyal. Sure, the supervisor, middle manager or team leader may implement recognition on a small scale for workers who have reached goals or helped the team in some way, but that doesn’t replace the recognition and reward employees need from upper management to stay committed. (Mary David, Leadership Consultant)
- Promotions are random: This again may not be the concerned person’s own promotion, but even if they feel that another person’s promotion is not ‘well deserved’. Of course this may feel subjective, and comparisons may not be clear or uncalled for, but the real issue is that there’s a communication problem. Employees who did not get promoted may view it as ‘favoritism’. The need of the hour is for the top management to share the reasons for a certain promotion and hiring and also keep in mind the impact this may have on the morale of those who are not promoted.
- Job profile and future are unclear: Many times when a person is hired for a role, the job description feels perfect but the corporate realities of the role change with interactions within the company, and at times business conditions change. All these bring in an element of confusion and insecurity among the ranks and a well performing employee may feel that their future ahead is unclear. At this point, the only way to solve for this situation is to take time out and have regular ‘coaching’ sessions and also assign mentors to good employees who may help them bring clarity to their roles. A good tactic often used (and that works well) is to make a job profile flexible for an employee and allow them to craft out their role according to how they see it. This can then be discussed between the reporting management and the employee to come up with a career plan. It is also important to keep a goals dashboard and agree on it, so that the employee is aware of what they’re working for to avoid unpleasant year end bonus conversations.
- Low inspiration: What inspires you may not be the same as the next person. I worked with a designer once who said, the lack of music in the office environment bothered him. Everyone has their own ways of finding their work inspiration and defining work processes that work the best for them. The key here is to understand motivations: why do they work, what inspires them, what could change their productivity…the key is to take initiative and ask.
- A negative atmosphere and poor work-culture: We have described the steps need to develop a happy work environment purely because it increases productivity. Every company has a work culture they develop and identify with. Not everyone can fit and that’s fine, as long as the ones that identify with the culture stay. No one wants to spend 8-10 hours in jobs and environments that are stifling and negative. This impacts a person’s ability to be creative and helps no one. It is thus pertinent to invest in a work culture that allows people to share their best and contribute. Mary David talks about culture in her piece and advises:
Ultimately the culture of an organization determines the scope of employee retention efforts which requires strategic decision making and planning. (Mary David)
- Poor work-life balance: This one is perhaps not a hard one to explain. There is research to show that many good employees may get ‘burnt-out’ and start feeling dissatisfied if they get no breaks. It is unsustainable to work consistently at over 80% productivity. There is a reason why big firms like Google and others allow their employees to unwind even on campus. Creativity levels are likely to go up when the employee does not feel over-worked.
- Lack of flexibility: A couple of times before I have been interviewed and asked when I am getting married, or having kids. First it can be considered too intrusive and gender biased. But more than that, if these are questions being asked, then it may also mean that the employer is not ready to consider workers who may be working remotely, or even at different timings. To a good employee, this may indicate a lack of effort put in by the employer to retain them. Most millennials and the new work force appreciate flexibility in the work environment and if another company offers them that, perhaps it is reason enough for them to move.
Hopefully, employers will keep these in mind and not let good employees leave, although, in case they do, it pays to find the good ones again!