6 Reasons Why Staff Really Leave Your Company

6 reasons why staff really leave your company

We are all in general agreement that a ‘job for life’ doesn’t exist anymore… even the most optimistic HR professional can accept that.

And, as a people manager, you’ll be fully aware when you take on new employees into your organisation that they are probably not going to stick around for the rest of their career…

No one expects that nowadays.

But is there anything more frustrating than recruiting an amazing new employee, who you know has the skills, experience and competencies to succeed with your organisation… Only to have them leave six months after you take them on… and for no apparent reason?

How utterly frustrating.

After all, it’s not just the time, money and energy that you’ve invested into training and developing that person that goes down the drain.

And it’s not just the knowledge and the expertise that they take with them when they go, that causes the real problems.

What unresolved or enigmatic staff turnover really does, is cause a negative ripple effect throughout your business, which directly affects other employees AND also indirectly affects your ability to serve your customers effectively.

It negatively impacts on team morale.

It negatively impacts on team performance.

And it negatively impacts on the market reputation and employer brand of your business.

Because, let’s face it, people leave people, not organisations.

And let’s be honest.

Who wants to work for, or do business with, an organisation that fails to take care of its employees’ needs, to the point where those people feel so exasperated and ‘at the end of their tether’, that they see no other option than to leave?

What’s usually behind staff turnover?

In our previous blog post, we looked at the key reasons why employees leave UK organisations in 2015… And most of them revolved around management.

Or lack of it…

From our experience in working with a whole range of UK organisations, it’s fairly true to say that most line managers simply fail to keep their finger on the pulse as far as employee satisfaction and staff retention is concerned.

In fact, most line managers don’t even realise that staff retention is their responsibility… They often pass the buck to HR on this matter, yet it is they who have the most influence on keeping good people in your organisation.

Okay, granted.

Increasing workloads, demands from the senior leadership team and a lack of people management skills all hold line managers back from getting to grips with the reasons behind staff turnover… Yet it’s usually to their own detriment.

The fact is, as a manager, you have to work really hard to create the trust required to be able to have insightful dialogue with your team and build up a relationship with your employees that fosters honesty and openness…and many managers simply don’t find the time or don’t have the inclination to do this.

On top of that, because dissatisfaction among staff is not always evident, and the required level of dialogue is often lacking between managers and employees, it actually comes as a surprise to line managers when key staff announce their resignation…

…Yet you can be sure that dissatisfaction has been building for some time before this moment arrives!

Because, the simple fact of the matter is that people rarely leave jobs that they love and they rarely leave managers and teams with whom they enjoy working.

People leave organisations because their individual needs are not being met and they finally reached the point where they can no longer accept the situation.

But what causes such an untenable situation?

What actually drives people to decide to leave an organisation?

Here are 6 common reasons why staff leave your business:

Not enough opportunities to grow and develop themselves

Lack of career development or progression opportunities is one of the key reasons why people leave an organisation.

Despite what some managers might think, we all have a desire to grow and develop as human beings and, ideally, we want our employer to nourish our personal growth as well.

On top of that, we want to know that our employer understands us well enough to be able to provide us with the right kind of opportunities to grow and develop, and not just offer the same generic training courses or the same old promotions to each person that walks through door.

Some of your staff will enjoy multi-day training courses, while others respond far better to one-on-one coaching as a form of self-development. It’s up to you as a manager to find out what is most beneficial for each of your people.

When companies fail to provide their employees with relevant training and promotional opportunities, or even worse, when they provide no training and development opportunities at all, employees begin to question just how important they actually are to the business.

In many cases, they recognise that they are simply not cared for and not valued… and of course, they leave.

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Interpersonal conflict with other staff or manager

We are firm believers of the idea that ‘nobody wakes up in the morning with the intention of angering or annoying anyone else.’

Yet, interpersonal conflict is a fact of life within a business. Whether it’s employees who have conflicting personalities, who just cannot see eye to eye. Or whether it’s a dispute between an employee and their manager.

The truth is, where there are large groups of people, there is usually the seed of conflict.

Yet, it is not the conflict itself that often causes people to leave the business. It’s usually the way in which the conflict is dealt with. If it’s dealt with at all, that is.

It may be that I don’t like working with a specific co-worker, or that I feel my team doesn’t understand me and I feel demotivated as a result. It may be that I have a grievance with my line manager which is being swept under the carpet.

It may even be, that I am being bullied by other employees and feel like there is no support from management.

Let’s be honest, the reasons why interpersonal conflict arises are endless. And we must be aware that conflict affects each individual differently.

What seems like innocent banter to you, as a manager, may well be the signs of a painful catalyst causing me to want to leave your business…and by keeping your finger on the pulse and leaving lines of communication open, you can drastically increase the likelihood of solving the problem before it becomes critical.

Boredom or lack of motivation for the role

Despite what some might think, we all want to be stretched by our job. We’d much rather be intellectually challenged by our profession, than sit in boredom every day feeling completely disengaged.

After all, if we spend 40 hours a week doing a job, then we want to feel that it is worthwhile for us, as intelligent people, to remain in that job.

We want to be challenged. We want to be engaged. We want to feel like we are growing as people when we are at work, whether intellectually or on a practical, skills level.

And we’ve all experienced what happens when that element of our job is lacking. We get bored. We lose motivation. We start to care less about our jobs, when our employers start to care less about our engagement.

That’s because we are not robots, but human beings who need to be challenged and who need to feel empowered and motivated by what we are doing.

Unfortunately, many companies bring smart and intelligent people on board, only to leave them out in the cold once they have been recruited.

They hire those kinds of people in the hope that they will flourish and achieve success for the organisation…and then limit their development by placing them in a box which is so restricting that they are unable to unfold and use their innate talents.

When this happens, it’s the beginning of the end.

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Failure to help them realise their potential

Have you ever heard of existential guilt? Existential guilt describes the feeling that we have when we know we are not achieving our true potential.

It may be easier to see this feeling as the ‘mental tension’ which arises in us when we realise the ‘gap’ between where we are now on our journey of development, and where we know we could be, given the right opportunities and environment.

Now, although it’s the responsibility of the individual to move towards realising their own potential, there is also responsibility on the organisation to create an environment and conditions which are conducive to that growth.

When we feel like our employer is hampering the process of realising our potential, we are far less inclined to remain loyal to the business. Simply because we know they are not investing in us as people.

They’re not growing us professionally. They are not helping us to get better at what we are good at.

They are not helping us to become the very best version of ourselves.

Of course, we all have different needs and are all on different journeys towards our own potential, and those companies who recognise in me the potential for greatness, and then provide me with opportunities to realise that greatness, are the ones who are able to inspire, motivate and retain the very best people.

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Lack of direction and leadership from the top

I think it’s safe to say that nobody wants to be on a ship without a fixed destination.

Nobody wants to begin a journey without a clear understanding of where they are going and how they are going to get there. And the same goes for your employees and your business.

In this age of uncertainty, having a strong vision for your organisation and being able to articulate it to your employees and give them direction, is an essential element to attracting and retaining great people.

Having a strong sense of leadership embedded throughout the organisation gives your staff the confidence that the company is developing and moving continuously towards success.

Even if you experience bumps along the road, having a strong, well-developed vision and direction and having the right kind of leaders in place to be able to communicate that effectively and bring people on board, will help you to overcome those bumps and challenges far more effectively than without.

And, above all, your staff want to feel like their company has a direction.

They want to know that the organisation they work for has its own potential which it is moving towards, and of which they are a part.

They want to feel like they are involved in something that is bigger than themselves.

Yet, when that direction is lacking, or has not been articulated clearly, or the people are not ‘on board’ with the leadership vision, then they begin to feel lost and they begin to look for other opportunities.

Lack of recognition and praise for their contribution

A few weeks ago I visited a local restaurant chain and was pleasantly surprised by the competence and passion of one of the employees there. She served us with a smile, was energetic and enthused, and gave us fantastic service.

Upon leaving, I thanked her for her service and told her that we would return to the restaurant based on our experience of her.

At that moment, she smiled and told me she was so pleased I had said that, because actually she had just been offered a promotion and she had decided to take it… And my comment had confirmed her decision.

Six weeks later we decided to return to the restaurant, but on arrival were greeted with a very different person than we had experienced on our first visit.

Our once enthusiastic waitress greeted us with a wry smile and we knew that something had changed.

She had lost the energy and the enthusiasm. She had lost the service approach that she obviously had when we first met. She was fatigued, uninspired and completely lacking in motivation.

“What happened?” we asked her.

“You’re so different than when we first met – you seem so dissatisfied.”

“Did the promotion go wrong? “

“No” she replied, “it’s my manager – he doesn’t give me any praise or recognition for the 45 hour week that I put in, and I’m absolutely sick of it.”

As we talked more, it turned out that this young girl was on the brink of resignation and could hardly stand to be in the same room as her manager.

And it wasn’t because she wasn’t paid enough. It wasn’t because she didn’t receive adequate benefits from the job. And it wasn’t because of some interpersonal conflict that she was experiencing with her co-workers.

This complete turnaround in attitude to her job was caused by the total lack of recognition or praise from her manager for the fact that she showed up every day and gave it her all. Her passion for the job had turned into resentment and she was days away from leaving the company. She was happy to tell us the whole sorry story…

What this short story is meant to convey to you, is that praise and recognition are the fuel that drives employees towards success. We all need recognition for our contribution. And we need it in our own individual way.

Whether it’s a pat on the back and a thank you after a hard day’s work, or a regular monetary bonus for high-performance. Recognition is vital for your staff, and can mean the difference between high-engagement, complete demotivation and a sharp exit from your business.

What can we do to improve staff retention?

If you are struggling to keep good people in your business, then the first admission that you need to make is that it is not the job of HR to retain people in the business.

It’s the line management’s responsibility to retain their people, and it’s HR’s job to provide the mechanics that aid that retention.

Once line managers understand that they can directly affect staff motivation, staff satisfaction and staff retention, then they can begin developing the skills and the attitude that they need to keep their people happy.

Developing leadership skills amongst line managers and training them to handle engagement and retention issues with more confidence, drastically improves levels of staff turnover.

Helping managers to develop greater self-awareness is also vital in helping them develop greater awareness of the people that they manage.

By improving the relationship between managers and teams, and creating an open and healthy space for dialogue and feedback, organisations can keep their finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to staff retention issues.

Using exit interviews and employee assessments to collect reliable data on people who leave your organisation, can also help you to drastically improve the situation.

On top of that, it’s also worth asking the questions:

  • Are we treating our employees like they need to be treated or are we treating them as we would like to be treated?
  • Do we know what our people are passionate about and are we giving them the opportunity to express that passion?
  • Do our employees have a voice and do they feel empowered to contribute to the overall well-being of the organisation?
  • Are our managers being consistent enough in their approach and are they delivering on the promises they have made?
  • Are we providing the right kind of development opportunities to our staff to help them realise their potential as people?

At the end of the day, people want to be treated with respect, trust and understanding by their managers.

They want to have the freedom to act according to their natural disposition, and they want to know that their employer is investing the same into their relationship as they are.

As the world of business changes in the 21st-century, it’s up to us as managers and leaders to understand how to create positive nurturing work environments for our employees.

If we fail to do that, then we need not wonder why our best employees become restless and decide to seek pastures new.

So, why do you think people leave organisations? Why did you leave your last job? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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2 Comments

  • Anonymous

    March 22, 2016

    The reasons that I left my previous company, was the following.

    1.The supervisors and Call Center Manager didn’t inform us about the goals that we achieve as a new Project, what was good and what could be improved and what are the future goals.

    2. We didn’t had any weekly meeting as a Team, so there was no change to speak out anything you feel about the work, your teamcolleaugues,the problems and difficulties.

    3.My personal impression was that the Company except the activities outside the work and the new introduced development program,didn’t allow any interuption for other things, during the work. Everything that was not related to the work, should be done outside the official working hours.

    4. Some colleaugues even had the same training like you and was involved in the project from the beginning, start not deliver that what was expected. As our work based on Teamwork,unfortunately you had to work also for this colleaugues. The Supervisor didn’t realize or didn’t wanted to do something, as the results was in the goals that was established.

    5. Even in Greece is difficult to find a job, I came to the moment, where I wanted to escape from this project and thought that starting in another department, it would give me a new interest about serving customers in their needs and problems. Even three weeks after I announce my intention to leave the department for a new project, they don’t answer me.

    What could I do, instead of living?

    • RPx2 Web Team

      April 21, 2016

      Thank you, Nikos, for your comment and for sharing your experiences.