In the post-pandemic era, acquiring and retaining talented employees is an ongoing challenge,...
Why Good Employees Leave (& How to Stop Turnover)
It’s no secret that the cost of onboarding and training new employees far exceeds the costs of retaining existing staff members. But even if you're offering competitive wages, you may find that good employees aren’t sticking around for the long haul.
It’s a common misconception that pay alone is a driving factor for employees quitting, but there’s more to the picture. Sure, salary is a factor, but many studies actually point to more personal issues that lead good employees to leave their positions, such as poor management.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why good employees jump ship, so you can keep your best employees on staff.
What Are the Characteristics of Good Employees?
Before we explore why good employees leave, it’s helpful to assess what makes a good employee in the first place. (1) Good employees demonstrate strong time management and independence — they don’t constantly need to be told what to do. They’re also reliable, strong communicators, and team players.
Good employees also tend to recognize their own strengths, so they know when they aren’t being appreciated. That’s why good employees don’t complain — they leave.
Why Good Employees Might Leave
Whether you’ve already lost some of your core team members or you simply want to improve team morale before you start losing your top employees, there are several factors to assess that cause employee turnover.
- They’re unhappy with management. There’s an adage that people don’t leave companies; they leave managers. Poor management is frequently cited as a reason employees quit. According to Marcel Schwantes, contributing editor at Inc., "Among the many relationships employees will develop at a company, those formed with one's manager have a significant impact on overall workplace experience, even more so than one's relationships with peers” (2). Managers who are volatile, unengaged with their teams, or simply disorganized can drive away good employees and contribute to the high costs of employee turnover.
- They don’t have opportunities for growth. Without opportunities to grow and learn new skills or advance into higher positions, employees become disengaged and lose a sense of purpose in the workplace. Whether it’s through continued professional training, promotion opportunities, or mentorship programs, employees need to feel that they can grow and develop their careers in their current positions. Otherwise, they’re much more likely to leave. (3)
- They feel underpaid. Pay alone isn’t the only factor for low employee retention, but it still matters. Particularly with the economic stress caused by current inflation, employees need to feel fairly compensated for their work.
- They don’t feel recognized. Lack of recognition loops right back to poor management. Good employees know what they’re providing to the business, and they want their efforts to be seen and acknowledged.
- They don’t connect with the company’s values. Employees don’t just want to go to work to check off a series of tasks and earn a paycheck. They want to feel a greater sense of purpose in their work, which is largely driven by a company’s values. If core values are not well defined or simply don’t align with an employee’s values, it’s likely that employees won’t feel a personal connection to the organization, making them more likely to leave.
Building a Great Retention Strategy: Tips for Keeping Good Employees
Because so many of the reasons employees leave are related to bad managers, emphasizing strong management tactics is essential for improving employee retention.
Make Feedback a Priority
Many great employees feel taken for granted simply because they never hear from the management team about their performance. Outside of formal reviews, take the time to share informal feedback. Take note of positive feedback from fellow team members, positive customer reviews that mention specific employees, and difficult projects that employees helped complete. Then, share those achievements with your employees as soon as they come up—don’t wait for formal review sessions.
It’s also beneficial to discuss areas in which employees can improve. Many employees don’t feel challenged, so focusing on both their strengths and weaknesses can inspire them to push harder.
Finally, create a space where feedback is welcome from employees to the management team. Weekly or monthly group meetings addressing how the company is functioning as a whole and welcoming insight into how management can offer greater support to the team can be incredibly impactful.
Boost Employee Engagement
Engaged employees can increase productivity by 14% and business profitability by 23%. But in 2023, only about 31% of U.S. employees reported being engaged in their jobs. Employee engagement has been declining since 2020, when it peaked at 36%. (4) To boost employee engagement, it’s important to give them a sense of agency in the company’s growth and decision making. Soliciting employee input prior to important company decisions can be a positive step towards increasing engagement. Brainstorming sessions and other collaborative decision making processes are also beneficial practices to implement in your business.
Rethink Your Employee Compensation Package
Higher salaries can help convince good employees to stick around, but you can think beyond simple salary increases to prevent employees from resigning. For example, some employees may struggle with paying for childcare, so you might offer stipends to cover the costs of daycare. Another potential pain point for employees is medical expenses, so you might rethink your health insurance benefits to provide more comprehensive coverage.
Building People, Supporting Service
If you own a local plumbing, HVAC, or electrical business, joining the P3 Services family can help you access a greater network of resources to better care for your employees and acquire talented new employees to help your business thrive.
- Workhuman Editorial Team, Top Qualities of a Good Employee: Hire & Develop Employees With These Key Skills, https://www.workhuman.com/blog/qualities-of-a-good-employee/
- Marcel Schwantes, 3 Major Reasons Good Employees Quit, According to Studies https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/3-major-reasons-why-good-employees-quit-according-to-studies.html
- Amber Krosel, 15 Reasons Why Good Employees Leave (And How To Keep Them), https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/why-good-employees-leave
- Tim Reitsma, 13 Employee Engagement Statistics You Need To Know In 2023, https://peoplemanagingpeople.com/culture/employee-engagement-statistics/