Ever had an incredible employee, and thought, “This is the one!” They were smart, engaged, driven, and seemed to really love the job. You thought, “We’re going to be together forever!” You could really see yourself promoting this person, mentoring them, watching them climb the ranks in your company…
And then one day, they quit.
They might give you the, “It’s not you, it’s me…” speech, but what does it actually mean?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees are only staying in a job on average for 1.5 years, so retention is getting harder all over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some reasons employees might quit a job (even one they love) — and what you can do to prevent it.
There’s an old saying that employees don’t leave a company, they leave a manager. No matter how much you like, respect, or appreciate an employee, if they don’t know it, they may leave. Make sure your interactions with employees are always respectful, and that you look for ways to actively value their contribution.
You or the CEO may have a vision for where the company is going — but do all your employees? 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. (And don’t confuse vision with financials; it needs to be bigger than that, especially if the employee in question doesn’t have stock options!)
Have you outlined a clear path for advancement for your best employees? Or are they looking at a dead-end job? They might be the best cashier / phone operator / junior undersecretary you’ve ever had, but that doesn’t mean they want to stay in that position forever. It pays to get to know your employee’s goals and help them see how they can achieve them within your company.
No one wants to stick around in a workplace that doesn’t treat them fairly. Do a quick gut-check: Are you paying women less than men? How about minorities? Younger workers in particular are not willing to stick around at a company that is racist, sexist, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory in any way.
Even if a particular employee is positive and energetic, it is draining to be surrounded by people with low morale. Team identity and unity may be key to engaging and retaining those great employees you want. When everyone else is unhappy and not putting in a good effort, no one wants to work there.
No challenge or autonomy
If you aren’t providing the opportunity for challenging, engaging work, you’re naturally going to lose those employees who want to be challenged or have a certain measure of autonomy over their work and lives. Few people are happy being micromanaged or simply toeing the company line when they have ideas for innovation. No one wants to feel infantilized or that they aren’t trusted to make the most basic decisions in their work. People want the opportunity to be the expert in their own job.
So what’s the solution? How can you prevent that perfect employee from jumping ship?
Practice actively listening and engaging with all your employees on a regular basis. One idea is to implement stay interviews (instead of exit interviews) to ask your current employees why they stay with the company. It helps to build a strong level of trust and engagement with employees when they are allowed to bring both their goals and their concerns to a manager — before it’s too late to identify and solve the problems.
What do you think? What can managers do to help retain their best employees? I’d be interested in reading your contributions in the comments below.
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