Why Good Employees Quit

by Ken Schmitt and Vicky Willenberg

Whether you engage an external recruiting expert like TurningPoint, or use your own in-house hiring manager, filling an open position (and the process of onboarding)can be very expensive. In addition, as companies become more collaborative and roles less autonomous, bringing on new staff members is not as seamless as it once was. With the increasing cost and difficulty of hiring, ‘retention’ has become a hot topic among management. To fully understand how to retain its staff a company must look closely at why they are leaving.

7 Reasons Your Best Employees Are Leaving

1. Poor management. You know the old saying, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” According to a recent study conducted by Paychex, 44.66% of those survey, left because they did not like their boss. The reasons are varied. Some complained about micromanagement while others rarely saw their “drive by” boss who rarely stepped foot in the office. Others were unhappy with their boss’ hiring and promotion policies. Unfortunately, few bosses realize they are the reason why their employees are running toward the exit. Therefore, it is the company’s job to have procedures in place to manage management and track which departments are consistently losing staff.

2. A lack of growth opportunities and promotions. 31.88% of those questioned in the Paychex study cited a lack of growth and promotions as their reason for leaving. Being given only small, incremental goals rarely pushes employees out of their comfort zones or encourages them to learn new skills and take on new challenges. Ultimately, they feel stagnant and the job becomes monotonous. In addition, there is often little to no feedback on their work which does not allow for them to expand their skill set.

3. A better job. Just so we’re clear: ‘Better job’ does not always mean ‘more pay.’ Looking back at #2, a better job is often defined as simply a better opportunity for personal and professional growth and upward mobility. (Unsurprisingly, 69.44% left for this reason.)

4. A lack of recognition or reward.In a world where everyone receives a trophy for showing up, it’s easy to brush-off the idea of rewards and recognition. However, to your employees, those things matter. High quality results produced within an expected timeframe is the nature of the job; but rewarding good work is never a wasted effort. (Next week we’ll share some great ideas for thanking your employees.)


5. Other staff members. Ideally, your co-workers are on your team- literally and/or metaphorically. In the best situations, they are working alongside you to execute the company’s mission and successfully complete a project. In the worst situations, they are the reason you wish you worked remotely. Bosses, you have the power to make or break the office dynamics. Hiring the wrong people for the wrong reasons or refusing to fire people who are not doing their job or are toxic, will eventually send your team players running without looking back.

6.  Overworked. Saddling your top employees with excessive projects and mountains of menial tasks will send them running out the door. Great bosses challenge their employees. They do not pile on the work that can and should be completed by others.

7.  No work/life balance. Never allowing your staff to “clock out” at the end of the day has far reaching consequences. According to a survey by Right Management, 36% of workers get after-hours emails from their supervisors. Some 9% say their bosses email them while they are on vacation and 6% say they get emails on the weekend. Not only do employees burn-out faster, resentment and frustration build and can poison the water cooler.

Employees will rarely let their boss know if they are unhappy. Fear of retaliation or being labeled a “complainer” prevent them from having candid conversations. Most will simply start looking for a new place to work- even while still working for you. If you want to retain your key employees, it is essential you know what is tempting them to look elsewhere.

Are your employees happy? Next week, we will look at things you can do to keep your finger on the pulse of your staff.


About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the CEO and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales & Marketing Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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