5 Common Reasons Why Employees Quit and How to Avoid Them

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As uncomfortable as it is to contemplate, receiving resignations is part and parcel of running a business. Most recently, pent-up resignations due to COVID-19 have led to a mass exodus of workers known as The Great Resignation. Pick a professional at random and they’ve likely moved on from at least one company for one reason or another.

Some partings are perfectly amicable, the resignations driven by the thirst for new pastures. Others are more scathing. Resulting from immense frustration and potentially even workplace conflict. 

In the event of a resignation, the task of figuring out what went wrong should be first on management’s list of priorities. An exit interview should take care of this (providing it’s well planned). 

If you’re just getting a business going and have yet to face any resignations, you might want to avoid thinking about the prospect — but you must. A huge component of great employee retention is accepting that people will want to leave.

Let’s explore the top reasons why employees quit their jobs and provide some advice to help you keep your prized employees around for years to come.

1. They lack development opportunities

If you’re hoping to keep your team for the long haul, you’ll want to provide them with ample room for professional development. Anyone who’s worked in the same role for years without a chance for change will understand that incessant yearning for growth. It’s a feeling that only grows over time. As an employer, it’s your job to fulfill that need, or risk employees leaving.

The opportunity to advance is especially important if you’re managing a younger workforce. In a recent study, ‘lack of growth’ was cited as a reason to resign by 13% of younger workers. Irrespective of age, failure to provide upwards mobility is extremely damaging to any employee’s motivation and can negatively impact productivity. 

We understand it isn’t always possible to give every employee the chance to ‘climb the ladder’, by paving a clear path to promotion. Don’t worry — there are other ways to encourage and motivate your team. For example, you could provide employees with training stipends or hold seminars for them to learn particular skills or subjects.

Show your team that you’re interested in their future by asking them what they want from their careers. Enquire about their plans for the next five to ten years, what their goals are, and where their passions lie. You can even implement these development goals into actionable targets by incorporating them into an OKR framework.

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2. They’re not allowed to work remotely

It’s no secret that micromanagement was unpopular with employees before the pandemic. After tasting the freedom of the remote/hybrid work model, staff are now unwilling to be caged in by senior leadership. A recent study by Flexjobs revealed that 43% of employees surveyed cited ‘no remote working option’ as a reason for quitting.

For anyone still skeptical, we can assure you that your employees are just as capable of being productive from the comfort of their homes as they are in the traditional setting of the office. In fact, working remotely has already been shown to boost productivity by a whopping 47%. So, if you’d like to reduce attrition and increase output then we’d recommend giving some consideration to the implementation of a remote or flexible work policy. 

Want to go the extra mile? If any employees are getting particularly antsy because they feel cooped up, there’s even the option of having them live abroad while continuing to work for you. The process is relatively straightforward — you can outsource your legal and payroll matters to a company like Remote offering an Employer of Record service. 

Using an EOR service does come at a price, but you may be able to justify it if the employee is essential and determined to move abroad. It’s also likely to bring interesting networking opportunities.

3. They’re looking for more money

On paper, it may seem like a sound financial decision to pay each employee the minimum expected wage for their role. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that workers are no longer in the dark when it comes to understanding their worth. Job comparison sites like Glassdoor give us all the power to compare salaries with industry averages. If you’re not keeping your wage offerings up to scratch, your employees could well seek higher pay elsewhere.

Money shouldn’t be the bottom line for your employees. Ideally, any team should be composed of individuals more interested in the specifics of the work they do than any minor discrepancies in pay that may be present. However, even if your workers love the work, it’s important to compensate them accordingly to avoid having money become an issue.

If a letter of resignation does find its way to your desk, the cost of replacing an employee can prove to be steep. Potentially costing you between six to nine months of that employee’s salary. For this reason alone, we’d recommend paying your team generously. 

Struggling to stretch your budget? Instead of a pay rise, consider introducing incentives. These can be annual performance-based bonuses, gym memberships, mental health support, or even free drinks on a weekly basis. 

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4. They feel unappreciated

At one time or another, we’ve all gone above and beyond for our boss (or employees) — whether that means putting in overtime, canceling pre-planned annual leave, or even working through minor illness. If you’re lucky enough to manage people who are happy to make sacrifices for the good of the business, be sure to thank them for doing so.

Don’t expect your employees to go the extra mile if you’re unwilling to reward their efforts in return. Even simple gifts like ‘thank you’ cards or boxes of chocolates can be enough: these tokens of appreciation might seem trivial, but it’s mostly the thought that counts. 

Consider that a total lack of recognition from senior leadership can quickly spiral into toxicity. Leading employees to feel disrespected, and undervalued. Creating fertile ground for resentment to take root.

Studies have shown that 66% of workers would quit if they felt unappreciated. If you’re looking to reduce attrition, we’d recommend regularly checking in on the well-being of your team. Implementing anonymous surveying via an HR tool like Officevibe can ensure any ill-feeling among employees is brought to light before things sour further. 

Above all, listen to your workers. Check in on them, ask them if they’re adequately equipped to manage their workloads, and if they’re crumbling under pressure. Do what you can to ease their burden. 

5. They don’t enjoy the company culture

The number one reason employees quit isn’t related to a lack of pay or remote work opportunities. It’s due to toxic work culture. According to a recent study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, a toxic culture is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover.

Does your company have clear, definable values? Is there a core ethos driving every business decision towards a long-term goal? Are your team members all pulling in the same direction with a shared mission in mind? 

If not, it’s likely that your company culture may need some improvement. Keep in mind that a third of your life will be spent in the workplace. For this reason alone, it’s paramount that your employees feel connected to your business. The key here is to lead a team, rather than barking orders at a group of individuals.

Truthfully, company culture is a relatively new term, so its definition is tricky to pin down. However, the term can be segmented into four distinct categories. They are as follows:

Clan

This aspect of company culture is dictated by how friendly, tranquil, and welcoming a business is to its employees. Workers with a strong ‘clan’ mentality tend to share friendships outside the confines of the office, and their employers will often prioritize social elements of workplace culture.

Adhocracy

Revolving around innovation, flexibility, and success, this company culture is all about disrupting the market through creativity and agility. “Move fast and break things” perfectly sums up the attitude of adhocracy.

Hierarchy

This is the most traditional type of company culture. Revolving around structure and control, a Hierarchy-based company culture thrives on strict organization and polished policies.

Market

Strive for success, at any cost. This culture is all about pushing the business forward, generating higher returns, and putting in the extra hours needed to do so. Gaining popularity in the 1960s, this culture dictates that the needs of the business should always come first.

An established culture is crucial for providing your employees with a sense of belonging within your company. The key to improving your company’s culture is through creating an environment that positively impacts how employees experience their time at work, helping them use their current skills, learn new ones, and share their knowledge with others.

Employee retention is an ongoing process

Keeping your employees happy and productive is a tricky balancing act at the best of times. Hopefully, the tips above will help you to hold onto your current team members and reduce attrition as your business continues to grow.

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Kayleigh Alexandra
Kayleigh Alexandra
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer for Micro Startups, your online destination for everything startup. She's passionate about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.
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