For businesses and staffs to thrive in today’s economy, finding, recruiting and retaining the best employees are obviously important. Recruiting top talent is one challenge for employers but retaining them seems to be the more difficult task. Recent research from Gallup indicates that 50% of employees are searching for a new job. Just as staggering is the realization that the majority of those actively looking for a different place to work are doing so behind the backs of their current employer and co-workers. Losing an employee is more than an inconvenience to a company. It cuts into the bottom line and affects staff chemistry morale and synergy. The true cost of employee turnover is difficult to nail down because most companies don’t have systems in place to track the costs of things like recruiting, interviewing, training, lost productivity, potential customer dissatisfaction and lost proficiency. Many studies predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six to nine months’ salary. To put this in real numbers, if a company replaces a salaried manager who makes $40K yearly, it will cost that business $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses before they are back to normal operations again. This of course does not account for the intangibles of lost morale to the staff and disruptions in efficiency, etc. The questions that begs an answer is, “WHY ARE SO MANY WORKERS SECRETLY WANTING TO LEAVE THEIR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT?”
When it comes to employees, most employees reveal the truth about their jobs, themselves and their bosses only after they leave. This of course indicates that they worked in an environment with “closed” rather than open communication. As I discuss in The Teamwork Ladder: 8 Steps to MAXIMUM Success, when trust and healthy relationships are not prioritized on the bottom rungs of the team ladder, employees will feel too vulnerable to disclose their true feelings. The first time they feel safe and liberated to express how they really feel and what they truthfully believe about the organization is after they have fired their employer. Once they have left their current job, most report they are not leaving for a better situation but to escape their current one.
Here are the top five aspects to the “unbearable” situation they left:
- They didn’t think they could make a difference – and no one asked if they could. Humans have a primal need to feel needed. They want to be making a difference rather than just punching the time clock. Many employers assume their employees already know their value to the organization but this assumption does not align with the feelings of the exiting workforce. When managers or employers acknowledge how they are specifically making a difference, they meet that employee need. When they no not, workers feel more like a helper than a contributor and this leaves a big hole in their job satisfaction bucket. It is important for employers and managers to realize that burnout does not happen from too much work, but rather work without a purpose.
- They were under-acknowledged and underappreciated. A bevy of research and polls indicate that more than half of employees report feeling underappreciated. Too many employees are running on empty motivational tanks. Their emotional bellies are rumbling with hunger pangs of discouragement. According to a recent survey by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. Many leaders withhold appreciation and recognition because they feel the paycheque is enough. This is not in sync however with the needs of the employee. When weak leaders do provide feedback it is negative in nature, pointing out shortcomings or void of encouragement. A workplace that is stingy on praise, recognition, validation, encouragement and appreciation will be the same workforce with high turnover and unsatisfied employees.
- They had a weak relationship with their boss. If there is one factor that emerges from the science of happiness as pivotal to human contentment and flourishing, (including on the jobsite) it is healthy relationships. The most successful, happy, resilient and productive workers, when bombarded with work stress, cash in on their social investment. They cling tighter to the social fabric of their relationships and avoid any prospect of flying solo through a work storm. Of those work relationships, the one that seems the most vital to an employee’s loyalty is the one between the employee and the employer. It seems clear that people do not leave organizations; they leave people.
- No one cared about them. Today’s employee does not want to be seen as a disposable pair of hands. They want to be cared for as an individual and this caring includes demonstrating concern, sensitivity and understanding about issues pertaining to their overall wellbeing, including their work stressors. In a 2018 study, it was discovered that ninety percent of employees are more likely to stay with an organization that empathizes with their needs and eight in ten would be willing to work longer hours for an empathetic employer. The most disturbing finding however was that 92 percent believe empathy remains undervalued in their workplace.
- They were giving too much and receiving too little. Until workers feel that things are fair (and they are cared for) anything else placed on the table will lose its significance. If employees believe that they do not have an equal chance to grow within the company or are not receiving fair pay for their proportionate contribution to the success of the company, they will fail to emerge as a superstar employee. This sense of fairness at work is so important to employee loyalty that when bosses fail to comply, employees will immediately start searching for a new employer who pays allegiance to the Law of Fair and Care.
Almost all these “unbearable” situations could be prevented if leadership chose to pay more attention to the individual worth of the employee, recognize and honor exceptional performance and provide opportunities to grow within their role. After all, a leader’s prime directive is not to grow the company but to grow the employees who run the company and then allow the employees to grow the company. Only exceptional leaders attract and retain exceptional employees.
Besides these “top five” if you know of another reason why employees leave organizations, please share and in doing so you may help employers retain their top workers.