To Attract The Best, First Understand Why They Leave

Jeff Hyman | Forbes

Posted: 8/10/18

To Attract The Best, First Understand Why They Leave

Do you know why your best employees have left you?

In today’s ultra-tight labor market, the right answer is vital if you hope to build a competitive workforce.

Rock star employees have more options than ever before. If you don’t identify – and then correct – why good people depart, you could suddenly find yourself with a shortage of reliable performers & the daunting task of finding their replacements.

The reality? Most managers don’t have a clue why their employees leave.

And most companies fail to conduct effective exit interviews. Perhaps they don’t want to know the real reasons that employees see a brighter future elsewhere. So, they come to an easy (but usually mistaken) conclusion: it’s all about the money.

The level of disconnect is alarming.

According to a study of 19,700 post-exit interviews, 89% of employers think their people leave for more money. The employees who actually leave for more money? Just 12%.

So, if it’s not about money, why do people leave for greener pastures?

There’s an old adage in HR: People quit their bosses; not their jobs.

My experience as an executive recruiter, plus countless research studies, largely validate the truth of this adage. An employee’s relationship with their manager is a huge factor in job satisfaction, with one study revealing that more than 40% of employees left a job because of a bad boss.

Your primary job as a leader is to remove obstacles to high performance.

And that means you simply must get rid of bad bosses. Today. They are a poison to your culture, they undermine performance, and they cause good people to pick up the phone & listen intently when we recruiters come calling.

Of course, bad bosses are not the only culprit. Other reasons people leave:

Lack of advancement & promotion opportunities:

This is the number one factor, according to Gallup research. Ambitious people want to move forward in their careers. If you’re not providing your top performers with development opportunities, someone else will.

Poor DNA-match:

A LinkedIn survey of 10,000 job changers identified “work environment” as the third leading reason people left, tied with a desire “for more challenging work.” People want to work at a company with a culture that expresses good values & provides a positive workplace. An entrepreneurial environment that demands multi-tasking and immense flexibility may be perfect for some people – but it will be off-putting to people who prefer a more structured environment. You must make culture-match a high priority in hiring.

Unhealthy work/life balance:

Employees who feel burnt out are 31% more likely to leave, according to a TINYpulse survey. Long commutes, inflexible office hours and insensitivity to employee family needs will motivate employees to find a job that facilitates a more satisfying life. Remember, they are a “whole person” first, and then an employee.

Compensation and benefits:

Money isn’t the most important factor, but it matters. The good news is you don’t have to pay top dollar to retain good people – as long as you’re fulfilling other job satisfaction needs. If you pay in top 75th percentile in your geographic area, you won’t lose many people due to money alone.

So, how do you improve retention (and thus reduce your need to recruit outsiders)?

It’s not really a secret why people stay at organizations.  They are engaged and energized in their jobs; they receive constructive feedback and growth opportunities from their managers; they resonate with the culture; they are fairly compensated; they have a good work-life balance; and they see potential for advancement.

Creating this type of environment requires constant attention.

Never take it for granted that everything is fine and your people are happy. Survey employees to measure the mood. Talk to people one-on-one about how they feel – especially your rock star performers. When somebody does leave, make it a policy to drill down & pinpoint the exact reason.

Pay particular attention to engagement levels. Only about one-third of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs, according to Gallup. Poor engagement is a marker for under-performance and a driver of employee turnover.

Most importantly, fix what’s wrong.

With about three million people voluntarily quitting their jobs every month and unemployment at the lowest level since 2000, you must make employee retention a priority.

A great place to work is today’s best source of competitive advantage. Make it yours.

 

 

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