3 Ways to Lose Your Best Employees

September 4, 2015

Category: Management, Talent

Employee turnover is costly for business. It’s even costlier when your best employees jump ship, leaving behind a void of skills and expertise. In fact, the departure of highly specialized professionals can cost a business 400 percent of an employee’s annual salary! And that doesn’t include the hidden costs of attrition like increased workload for other team members and low team morale. With the amount of voluntary employee departures on the rise, managers must do all they can to keep the best employees on their team, and reduce costly turnover.

So, what behaviors should they avoid? Let’s run down the list.

1. Reducing an employee’s contribution to “hitting numbers”.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, only 41% of employees know what their company stands for and what makes it different from competitors. The study finds that this leads to a lack of engagement that could contribute to an employee’s departure. Top-performing employees need a greater purpose in order to find fulfillment in a role. It’s no surprise then that managers that reduce an employee’s contribution to merely hitting numbers, without articulating greater vision and purpose, run the risk of losing top talent. This is where managers and HR can work together in order to drive home a company’s greater purpose to their entire team. Share the vision for the company early on in the onboarding process with materials like culture or employee handbooks. Use these materials to clearly define the core values of your company, and how each employee can demonstrate them through his or her role. Managers can then support those efforts by tying an employee’s contribution to both “hitting numbers” and living out key core values in the workplace. 

2. Micromanaging your employee’s time (or work).

If you’ve recruited A-players to join your team, one of the easiest ways to frustrate them is to micromanage their time, their work, or both. While it’s true that structure and feedback are important to employee development, you have to trust that your best people know how to get the job done, and then take a step back. If you’re still itching to get down in the weeds with your direct reports’ tasks, do a little self-reflection. Ask yourself: Is your involvement truly improving your employees’ work? Do they seem frustrated or confused by your suggestions? As a manager, a small dose of self-reflection goes a long way towards retaining your best employees.

3. Forgetting to connect with employees on a 1:1 basis.
Business moves fast, but that’s not a good reason to ignore connecting with your top talent on a regular basis. Start the habit of holding regular one-to-one’s with all of your employees to engage them and understand their challenges. According to the Gallup report, connecting with employees in this way is a crucial factor in keeping them engaged with your company’s purpose, and focused on business outcomes.

Avoid Turnover By Engaging Your Employees
As the Gallup study and other research demonstrates, the most fulfilled employees are the ones that are truly engaged with their work environment. Building that engagement starts with a healthy and open manager/direct report relationship that avoids the aforementioned pitfalls. HR departments can assist managers in carving out the time to connect with employees and even serve as catalyst for that relationship early on during onboarding. With the right mix of early involvement of HR, and a commitment to employee engagement, your business can retain top talent and cut down on costly turnover.



Sonja writes on company culture, employee engagement, and growth. With an M.A. in sociology and a background in business, she's fascinated by people, art, and social movements.

Category: Management, Talent

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