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Why Your Best Employees Are Quitting (and 3 Ways to Keep Them)

Shannon Gausepohl

Employees quit their jobs for various reasons, including better career opportunities, dissatisfaction on the job or personal growth. No matter what drives your team to exit, as a manager, you have an obligation to better understand their reasons if you want to retain staff members in the future.

"Losing a key employee is often more detrimental to the business than losing a key client," said Jeff Nussbaum, CEO and co-founder of Recruit, Inc., a site for recruiters and job seekers. "If you are constantly communicating with your employees and tending to their needs, hopefully they will not want to leave, and if they are considering it, they will be transparent upfront."

Why employees quit (and what to do about it)

According to a 2016 CEB report, the five biggest factors survey respondents considered when leaving their last job include:

  1. Future career opportunities (42 percent)
  2. Compensation (36 percent)
  3. People management (35 percent)
  4. Development opportunity (31 percent)
  5. Recognition (29 percent)

It's not always possible to give every unhappy employee a raise — and, in fact, that may not even motivate them to stay. However, there are things you can do to make your staff feel more appreciated and less likely to quit. Here are three key actions you can take to address employee attrition, and keep your best workers at your company. [See Related Story:]

Provide opportunities

A lack of future career opportunities is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the top reason employees leave their jobs. According to a large majority of employees surveyed (70 percent) reported being unhappy with future career opportunities at their current organization.

According to the CEB report, the perception of upward career progression opportunities can improve career satisfaction by 17 percent. Employees calibrate their career progression through the lens of title progression. Career satisfaction increases the more they see opportunity for title progression.

Nussbaum agreed, and said if there is no business trajectory, there can be no employee opportunities. To empower his employees, he keeps his team in the loop.

"The more they understand budgets, strategies, success criteria, risks, etc., the more they will feel empowered, accountable, important and motivated," he said. "As obvious as this may seem, it is often missed by employers, and almost always missed by employees who tend to think more emotionally about their growth or lack thereof in their jobs."

"I believe in having key employees’ compensation plans contain some component that is attached to the growth and performance of the business, not just their personal role/performance," Nussbaum continued. "You will be amazed at how this adjustment in compensation will influence positive behavior and a team culture."

Communicate openly

Open communication with employees is a helpful way for them to stay focused and more secure in their position. The need for continual feedback is an especially important detail to remember with a millennial-heavy office. This generation comprises more than half of the American workforce, so employers are trying to figure out the best ways to appeal to them — and prevent them from quitting their jobs.

According to a Clutch HR survey, the best way to appeal to millennial employees is with consistent, accurate and immediate employee feedback. This kind of communication, as opposed to more traditional workplace interactions, such as formal year-end reviews, could mean that 34 percent are more likely to find their job fulfilling, and less likely to quit their current position.

"The more traditional models of providing feedback are less liked by millennials. They want more emphasis on instant feedback and the immediate connection to the work that they're doing," Joe Carella, assistant dean for the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona, told Clutch. "In general, millennials are more collaborative than previous generations. That collaboration means they are more open to continuous exchanges about the work that gets done, which, in turn, translates to the openness and the desire for more immediate feedback."

Understand their personal lives

The CEB survey found that people begin reflecting on their careers when certain personal milestones come around, such as work anniversaries, class reunions, or a pinnacle birthday. As they reflect on their accomplishments up to the point of these milestones, job search activity can increase if they're unhappy.

"We've learned that what really affects people is their sense of how they're doing compared with other people in their peer group, or with where they thought they would be at a certain point in life," Brian Kropp, head of CEB's HR practice, said in a statement. "We've learned to focus on moments that allow people to make these comparisons."

Additional reporting by Jennifer Post.

Image Credit: Fabryczka Fotografii/Shutterstock
Shannon Gausepohl Member
<p>Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.&nbsp;</p>