Learn why employees are leaving jobs, the warning signs that precede turnover, and what you can do to improve employee retention.
In countless surveys of employees leaving their jobs, workers cite problems in the workplace. The good news is that the majority of problems are fixable. While you may not be able to significantly increase pay, there are several other ways you can demonstrate leadership and keep employees engaged.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons employees say they’re leaving their jobs, the warning signs that predict turnover, and some actionable tips for improving employee retention.
Why do workers leave their jobs?
One 2022 survey provides us with insight into why people left their jobs over the past year:
- The pay was too low (63%)
- No opportunity for advancement (63%)
- Felt disrespected at work (57%)
- Child-care issues (48%)
- Not enough flexibility in hours (45%)
- Poor benefits (43%)
- Working too many hours (39%)
- Wanted to relocate (35%)
- Working too few hours (30%)
- COVID vaccine mandates (18%)
Even if they’re not leaving their jobs because of poor management, it’s clear that many of these reasons come down to the employer.
The biggest reason people quit their jobs? Leadership
While the Pew Research study didn’t specifically ask the question about what role leadership played in people leaving their jobs, it’s easy to see how leadership applies to nearly every item. A Gallup poll reported that almost 50% of workers say they quit because of a bad boss. Many concluded they needed to leave a job because of poor management and the impact it was having on their entire life.
“Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and putting their well-being in peril.”
Leaders who focus on a more holistic approach have more success retaining employees. They create a company culture that embraces employee needs with respect; this improves engagement and productivity. In fact, there’s a significant connection between companies that have strong leadership and cultures and high employee retention rates.
How to improve your management style to retain more employees
If you want to retain more workers, you need to address the items on the list. Many companies have begun to review compensation, especially for lower-paid employees where turnover is greatest. This is a good first step to ensure what you’re paying is in line with your peers and meets employee expectations.
Here are some additional ways to reduce your attrition levels.
1. Watch for warning signs
A study by MIT’s Sloan Management Review found 5 key factors that acted as a predictor of turnover.
- Toxic corporate culture
- Job insecurity and reorganization
- High levels of innovation
- Failure to recognize employee performance
- Poor response to COVID
If you see any of these signs in your organization, it’s time to make changes to improve your chances of keeping your employees. While compensation is important, the study’s authors said some things were far more significant. For example, a toxic corporate culture is 10 times more likely to contribute to turnover than compensation.
2. Be a better leader
People resign because of a boss, but they will also stick around for the right leader. Great leaders take the time to gain the trust of their team and provide growth opportunities. If there are problems, they’re transparent about how they’re addressing them. They are self-aware and understand the impact of their words and actions.
Great leaders understand the importance of the employee experience and work hard to create the kind of place people want to stay.
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3. Create growth opportunities
It’s no longer enough just to focus on reaching company goals. More than ever, managers need to know what employees want and help them achieve their goals. This means creating opportunities for growth and advancement.
Upskilling and reskilling workers have 2 distinct advantages. First, they keep your employees engaged and learning. Second, they help broaden team skill sets during a time when it’s challenging to hire. Upskilling and reskilling are effective ways to fill in skill gaps in your current team. Plus, they aid in retention.
Employees that receive training that helps them grow and perform at a higher level are 42% more likely to remain with their company long term.
4. Take a People Ops approach
When companies strike the right balance between employee performance and overall employee health, workers are 1.7 times more likely to stay.
People Operations, or People Ops, is a strategic approach by leadership to put employees first.
People Ops focuses on enhancing the employee experience by streamlining systems. It invests heavily in employee engagement, development, and retention. The goal is to encourage employees to be more successful and productive at work while recognizing what they need to achieve.
This approach recognizes that employees are a company’s most valuable resource and treats them as such. When companies strike the right balance between employee performance and overall employee health, workers are 1.7 times more likely to stay.
5. Infuse a sense of purpose
People spend a lot of their waking hours at work. It needs to be more than just a paycheck. Employers want to know their work means something.
Over the past 2 years, employees have reflected on their purpose in life and what they want out of it. Many found their current situation wasn’t matching up. Millennials, the largest group in today’s workforce, said they were 3 times more likely to reevaluate their careers.
When people understand the company’s mission and how their role contributes to success, they are more engaged. Studies show that when people feel a sense of purpose, they also stay with companies longer.
Leaders need to take proactive action
So, if you’re wondering why people are quitting their jobs, in too many cases, you need to hold your company up to the mirror. Company leaders who want to improve employee retention should take proactive measures to flip the traditional model and focus on what employees want.
When you can help meet employees’ needs, they’re more likely to stay longer and be more productive.