Employee retention seems to be a problem across corporate Australia these days. Recruiters and HR professionals hear a myriad of reasons for this from employees who have either left their jobs or want to. What’s obvious is that if employers want to improve retention and therefore productivity, it’s essential they try to understand why staff are leaving and consider what they can do about it.
I decided to conduct some research based on my recruitment and HR consulting experience and speak to some fellow professionals, I found 5 main reasons people leave their jobs. This is worth paying attention to for anyone working at management level in a company experiencing a high level of staff turnover.
1. Poor Management
That old saying about how people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers is more accurate than you might imagine, which is why I place this in the number one position. It could be top, middle, or lower management, but it’s often a problem in management somewhere along the line. Employees look to and rely on management for leadership, collaboration, and clearly defined goals.
A good manager shows empathy, understands how to motivate, leads by example and clearly enjoys the challenge of creating and managing a high performing team. Unfortunately, I have come across many companies that blindly defend their managers, even though there is clearly an issue with turnover and they don’t investigate or listen to why employees are leaving. A common mistake I come across in the sales industry over and over again is the promotion of good sales people to management roles with no regard to whether they have the skills or abilities to be a leader.
2. Poor Company Culture
People leave their jobs because they feel mismatched with the company culture. It was a close call with poor management as culture seems to be an increasingly important factor for people and it seems that employees are less tolerant of poor culture than ever before. You’d be surprised at how many people I meet who feel they can no longer work for their employer because of the workplace environment and/or non-alignment of values.
The issues I have encountered within the workplace environment include bullying, sexism, the acceptance of poor performance/an environment of mediocrity, immaturity, lack of a team-oriented environment and lack of direction and drive as a business.
3. Professional Development
We all like to be appreciated for what we do and a pay rise or a promotion is great but there is more to it than that. Many employees are seeking more challenging work and opportunities for professional development. Companies should consider how stale a job can become to employees when they are expected to do the same tasks day in and day out or simply find the role too easy. The lack of opportunity to learn and develop is something I hear often from employees who end up seeking the opportunity elsewhere. Some organisations are great at recognizing the need for professional development and find that it inspires loyalty, motivation and fuels the desire to be successful.
4. Work-Life Balance/blend
Work-Life balance or blend as I prefer to call it has become more and more important to Australians in the workforce. Many companies today offer flexibility in working hours, part-time solutions, the ability to work from home, and other innovative solutions. Since these still aren’t options at a vast majority of companies, it shouldn’t be a shock that people will leave their job to find a better blend elsewhere, simply because they can. The opportunity to spend time with children, pursue leisure activities or give back to the community is a big pull and personally I believe that companies who facilitate this have a happier and therefore more productive workforce.
Another common issue is burn out, people seldom admit to feeling burnt out, or they simply don’t realise it, but it’s more prevalent than you might think. People can be and are pushed to their limits until they can no longer maintain their physical and mental well-being, this is when they find out just how supportive their employer is.
5. Lack of Appreciation/Reward
It’s human nature to want to feel appreciated and/or to be rewarded for a job well done. Most people spend more time in the workplace than they do at home with their loved ones or doing things they enjoy. If they are unappreciated or passed over for reward (benefits, promotions, bonuses, pay rises), they feel they are being overlooked for the hard work they do.
This lack of recognition is demoralizing, especially to those who excel in their positions. It’s imperative that employers listen to and understand their employees so they can learn how to keep them motivated. Sometimes, the smallest reward can mean everything.
As a 20-year veteran in the recruitment and HR sector, I have heard hundreds of reasons why people resign from their jobs. The reasons have ranged from petty to bizarre, but there is always a pattern. As an employer, it doesn’t take much to uncover any underlying issues and find a way to reduce staff turnover and turn your company into an employer of choice.
I’m keen to hear if anyone agrees/disagrees with these 5 reasons or thinks their industry is different…