11 Reasons Why Good Employees Leave (and How to Avoid It)

Published October 14, 2021
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If you're concerned with keeping your company's best employees, it's important to understand the reasons why good employees leave. Once you know why top team members might decide to walk away, you can proactively take steps to ensure that such problems don't exist in your work environment. After all, the key to keeping good employees is to cultivate a culture that makes them want to stay.

1. Poor Management

The relationship that workers have with their supervisors directly impacts every aspect of their experience as an employee. Poor management may negatively impact job satisfaction and employee engagement. To keep from losing good employees to bad management, it's important to hire and promote people into supervisory roles very carefully. Supervisors should have strong management skills and be able to build effective supervisory-subordinate relationships with their employees.

2. Unclear Job Expectations

When employees don't have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they constantly feel uncertain about what they are doing and the results of their efforts. This causes unnecessary stress that can easily be avoided. Employees should be provided with accurate job descriptions and specifics about the performance standards they are expected or required to meet.

3. Insufficient Feedback

Employees not only need clarity about what is expected of them, they also need feedback on how they are doing at work. Providing both positive and corrective feedback to employees is part of every supervisory job. Too often, managers put all of their energy into providing corrective feedback to underperforming employees. This is important, but it's also crucial to provide positive feedback for good employees who are performing as expected, or even exceeding expectations.

4. Lack of Recognition

When employees aren't recognized for their contributions and accomplishments, they tend to feel unappreciated. No one wants to stay in an environment where they are not appreciated, so managers and other leaders need to make a point of letting valued employees know that they are appreciated. Offering praise for outstanding accomplishments is important, but it's also good practice to say thank you to hard-working employees for the great work they do on an ongoing basis.

5. Feeling Disconnected

Employees who don't feel a sense of connection to their organizations or teams are quite likely to leave. Companies should utilize a variety of strategies to foster a sense of belonging and connection. This may include assigning peer mentors to new hires, building strong cohesive teams, and involving employees in decisions that impact them. It's also important to foster a climate of open communication and provide opportunities for employees to interact and get to know each other.

6. Toxic Work Environment

Good employees will leave work environments that are toxic. The antidote to a toxic work environment is to build a strong, positive culture throughout the organization. This involves cultivating a collaborative environment where good employees know they are valued and see how their efforts contribute to the organization's success. It also involves accountability for everyone. Toxicity can occur when poor performers or disruptive employees are allowed to behave negatively without consequences.

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7. Lack of Emphasis on Well-Being

Employees want to work for a company that prioritizes their well-being. According to Gallup, this issue is the most important concern for the largest portion of the workforce (millennial and Generation Z workers). Good employees want to work for companies that provide them with the flexibility they need to take care of themselves and their families. They also want to work in an environment where they are valued and treated with respect, not just as workers, but as human beings.

8. Burnout

When a company doesn't emphasize well-being, that often creates an environment where good employees are likely to get burned out. It's important to avoid piling more and more work on good employees, as this can cause them to become overwhelmed and feel like they're being punished for being good at their jobs. Instead, keep expectations realistic to minimize stress and emphasize the importance of work-life balance. These things can help reduce employee burnout.

9. Being Bored

When good employees get bored with what they're doing at work, they often look around for new opportunities. Companies can aim to prevent boredom on the job by providing opportunities for employees to expand their knowledge and skills. Employers may offer training to help employees broaden their skill set, or prepare them to advance or move to new roles within the company. They may also be motivated by opportunities to lead committees or special projects, or to become team members.

10. Rigid Workplace Policies

The best employees don't want to work for companies that have rigid, out-of-date policies that cause the work environment to be inflexible. For example, get rid of policies that keep employees from being considered for new positions until after they've been with the company for one year. A good employee in a job role that's not the ideal fit won't wait a year to find out if they might be considered to move to a position for which they're better suited.

11. Limited Opportunity for Growth

Good employees often want to move up and be promoted within the company. If they continually see the company hiring managers or other higher-level employees from the outside rather than promoting internal candidates, they'll view the organization as one where they have little to no opportunity to advance. To keep this from happening, commit to developing your current employees and promoting from within whenever possible.

Take Steps to Reduce Attrition

Attrition is the term for voluntary turnover. The reasons listed here represent a few of the primary motives for good employees to leave a company. Fortunately, these are factors that companies can fix or prevent. Protect your company against attrition by building a strong culture, properly selecting and developing leaders, and providing work opportunities that meet the whole person needs of your employees. These steps will help create a motivating, engaging environment where employees can thrive.

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