Naturally, there are probably hundreds of individual, specific reasons employees leave. However, there are some trends we can look at to see some of the more common reasons and see what can be addressed.
Here are some of the common reasons employees are leaving:
- Unreasonable expectations. Often, employees—especially high performers—are continually given more and more responsibilities, frequently without a commensurate raise in pay. Over time, the burden grows. When the job market is favorable, that employee may quit—perhaps even unexpectedly—because he or she has been frustrated for too long.
- Lack of flexibility. Family and other home obligations often occur during the traditional workday. If a workplace isn’t flexible, it can feel punitive to have to take vacation time on top of dealing with whatever emergency or problem arises. Employers may find if they’re not at all flexible in allowing employees the ability to manage these types of things, employees may be looking for a workplace that is.
- No work/life balance. There are a lot of aspects to work/life balance, such as working hours and expectations of work after hours. There’s also things like the ability to work from home—and, thus, work around life’s miscellaneous needs—which can be helpful whether there’s an emergency or not.
- Not enough breaks. Many workplaces make it nearly impossible to truly take a vacation. There seems to be an expectation that even on vacation, the employee will be available to answer e-mails or respond to issues. Technology enables this, but if an employer doesn’t want employees to be burnt out, it needs to be actively managed and minimized so the employee can truly relax while away.
- No leave of absence options. Much like workplace flexibility noted above, sometimes employees need more than a few hours off to handle the issues that arise in life. Employers that have policies that allow personal leave, parental leave, or medical leave (beyond the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)) may find themselves better able to help employees in these situations, rather than having employees quit when they can’t take the leave they need.
- Lack of trust. Trust is a much bigger part of the employer/employee relationship than it may seem at first. Trust is shown to employees by giving them appropriate levels of responsibility—and then allowing them to get the work done without micromanaging. When employees feel their work is nitpicked or micromanaged, they won’t feel trusted, which does not lead to great job satisfaction. Lack of trust can also be seen when an employee is not being given the types of projects that would allow him or her to grow and be challenged.
- Not enough training and development. Employees want to feel like the employer cares about their continued development over time. Training, skills development programs, and personalized employee development plans are all ways to do this.
- No promotion opportunities. The next logical step beyond training and development is the opportunity to advance. If the organization does not create any type of career path, or if the path is there but it takes too long to move along each step, employees may look elsewhere for a quicker promotion to a new role.
- Frustration with leadership. No list of reasons employees leave would be complete without noting that a lot of employees leave due to being frustrated with those in leadership positions. This is a tough item to discover in some cases because an employee may not admit this is the problem when leaving. Employers can proactively assess whether individual managers or departments have higher-than-normal turnover to try to see if this may be an issue.
No list of reasons employees quit will ever be comprehensive—each person has his or her own individual reasons. But these ideas are a good place to start if your workplace is experiencing high levels of turnover.
*This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.