Reasons why employees quit: Insights for HR Professionals

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Organisations are at the risk of losing talented resources. It is, thus, essential for HR teams to understand what causes this type of disconnect and where it stems from.

Since early 2021, employers around the world have been struggling with the phenomenon known as The Great Resignation. While many have tried to combat it by offering more raises and bonuses, purely financial benefits are often not enough. Much of the time, employees quit because of a fundamental disconnect between what they need and what the company is offering, which cannot be fixed with money. With evolving technology giving birth to new career options and remote work becoming the norm, finding a new job can be much easier than trying to stay on and adjust.

  • Poor management – One of the biggest reasons employees cite for leaving their jobs is having a bad manager. Working with bosses who are temperamental, indifferent, uncommunicative or even abusive can ruin even the most exciting jobs. Another mistake managers often make is going for a micro-management approach, constantly following up on little things and questioning what their team members are doing. If employees feel like they don’t have the autonomy to handle their projects and their responsibilities their way, they are likely to lose interest and look elsewhere for opportunities.
  • Lack of recognition – Every employee, regardless of their role or designation, wants to feel like their contribution is valued. When companies fail to recognise their efforts, it can be demotivating. Individual contributors, in particular, may feel left out if their contributions are treated as ‘team effort’ or if the manager is given the credit. Companies that do not appreciate them adequately risk losing them altogether.
  • Poor communication – Communication is of paramount importance to getting everyone on the same page about projects, organisational changes and day-to-day tasks. When the senior management refuses to keep employees in the loop or when departments are siloed, employees feel left out and undervalued. In addition, employees cite a failure to be heard as a key reason for low job satisfaction. Companies that claim to have an open-door policy but do not pay attention to their employees’ perspectives will eventually alienate them.
  • Cultural misfit – Workplace culture plays a key role in job satisfaction, and a disconnect here can considerably lower morale. Perhaps, the company has a tradition of being extremely profit-oriented, or perhaps, the workforce is mostly homogenous despite claiming to support diversity and inclusion. To employees who hold a different set of values, this can demotivate them enough to make them want to leave, even if the monetary benefits are strong.
  • Lack of growth opportunities – In today’s rapidly changing world, employees are keener than ever to upskill and improve their ability to contribute. It can be demoralising to look around at the company and not know what growth pathways exist or how to pick up the skills necessary for growth. Companies should be committed to developing a clear vision for each employee’s potential and giving them the tools they need to achieve that vision. When companies fail to do this or when opportunities and promotions are constantly withheld from talented performers, they may well decide to take their abilities elsewhere.
  • Burnout – The impact of burnout has been studied extensively in the last few years, and it has intensified since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Employees everywhere have had to deal with illness, isolation and uncertainty, as well as pay cuts and overtime hours in many cases. All of this has taken a toll on their mental health and affected their productivity. Companies that fail to support employees going through tough times risk pushing them past the tipping point.

While there will always be times when employees have their own reasons for leaving, companies experiencing high turnover will nearly always find that they can do more for their team than they have so far. By taking the time to understand exactly what employees are dissuaded by and then demonstrating the commitment to change those factors for the better, employers can win their employees’ trust and build a committed team of people who are in it for the long run.

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