We’ve all experienced it. You come in on Monday morning and a cubicle is empty, there’s no lock on one of the lockers, or an office nameplate is missing. Someone quit.
It happens all the time, but it’s not always easy to understand why someone would walk away from a job. Especially when they were good at it, had strong relationships with their peers and were getting closer to their career goals.
Even if those things are true, there are still several reasons why all across the country, every day, employees are quitting their jobs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- Turnover in the workplace
- The most common reasons employees quit
- How to identify the signs that someone is thinking about quitting
- How to address these issues before an employee decides to walk away
- Ways to entice employees to stay
- Common mistakes along the way
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Turnover in the workplace
In any industry, employee turnover can be a healthy thing. It’s a sign that people are moving up, gaining new skills, and finding better opportunities. But when employee turnover becomes too high, it can be disastrous for a company.
Not only is there the cost of replacing employees, but also the loss of institutional knowledge and relationships that are built over time.
In the United States, employee turnover rates have been on the rise for years. 2021 brought the overall turnover rate to more than 57 percent across all industries. That isn’t just quitting though, turnover includes things like:
- People who are laid off or fired
- People who retire
- People who transfer to a new position in the company
Unfortunately, a huge chunk of that turnover rate is made up of people quitting. In 2021, it was more than 32 percent, with industries like hospitality, retail, and business services leading the way. Governmental jobs, long known as some of the most stable available, were still up at a 10.8 percent quit rate.
For any company, unexpected turnover can be a huge issue, presenting immediate and long-term problems or even threatening business continuity. If your sales force is small, and several quit at the same time, how will you continue to operate?
Why good employees quit
Let’s look at the top ten reasons why an employee–even a good one–would quit.
1. They don’t feel valued
This is one of the most common reasons for employee turnover. An employee who doesn’t feel appreciated or that their work is important will quickly become disillusioned and may begin looking for other opportunities.
One way to combat this is to make sure your employees know how much you appreciate them. Thank them often, give them feedback, and let them know their work is valuable.
2. They don’t feel challenged
If an employee feels like they are stagnating in their job or not being given new challenges, they may begin to look for something new. Offering employees opportunities for growth and development is key in keeping them engaged. You can also set up stretch goals or give them new projects to work on to keep them interested.
3. They don’t feel like a part of the team
If an employee feels like they are not being included in team activities or decisions, they may begin to feel isolated and unimportant. Make sure you are including everyone in team meetings, social events, and other activities whenever possible. This will help them feel more invested in their team and less likely to leave.
4. They don’t like their boss
If an employee doesn’t like their boss, they are much more likely to quit. This is because the relationship between an employee and their manager is a key factor in job satisfaction.
Make sure you are taking the time to get to know your employees and build positive relationships with them. If there are problems with the boss-employee relationship, address them head-on.
5. They don’t like their co-workers
Just like an employee can dislike their boss, they can also dislike their co-workers. This can lead to tension and conflict in the workplace, which will only make the employee (or employees) more likely to quit.
6. They don’t like their job
It sounds simple, but if an employee doesn’t like their job, quitting is an obvious choice. The thing is, it isn’t necessarily an inherent problem with the responsibilities but can be for a variety of reasons, such as the workplace is overwhelming, the hours are not flexible enough, or they don’t feel like they are making a difference.
Address any concerns an employee has about their job and see if there is anything you can do to make it more enjoyable for them to come in every day.
7. They are burned out
This is a big one, and sometimes hard to spot. These will be employees that appeared to love the job and were willing to put in extra time and effort. Burnout can be due to overwork, stress, or a lack of work-life balance.
Offer your employees flexible hours, telecommuting options, and other ways to help them manage their work and personal lives before it becomes a problem.
8. They have been offered a better opportunity
If an employee has been offered a better opportunity elsewhere, they may decide to leave their current job. While you can’t control what happens outside of your business, you can try to create a company culture that is challenging and enjoyable, where employees feel like they are making a difference, so they don’t even look for something new.
9. Their job is no longer a good fit for them
Sometimes, a job that once seemed perfect is no longer the right fit. This can be due to a change in the company, such as a merger or acquisition, or a change in their personal life, such as becoming a parent.
Try to keep communication open with your employees and let them know about any changes that may impact their job. Offer a different looking schedule to make their personal and professional lives fit together.
10. They are not being paid enough
There is no reason more common than this. One study from Pew Research Center found that 63 percent of the people who quit in 2021 did so because the pay was too low. With inflation skyrocketing, salaries can sometimes fail to keep up and put people in a precarious financial position.
They also just might feel undervalued, based on the effort they’re putting in. Make sure that you are routinely checking the market to see if your employees are being paid a competitive wage.
How to identify the signs that someone is thinking about quitting
Sometimes, an employee quitting will come completely out of the blue. Something sudden in their life changes and they don’t have another option. A lot of the time though, there are warning signs that employers can look out for that will give you an early signal that quitting might be on the horizon.
Some of the most common signs that someone is thinking about quitting are:
- They start coming in late, taking long lunches or calling out sick more often
- They stop putting in extra effort and their work begins to suffer
- Their attitude changes and they become less communicative or more hostile
- They stop interacting with coworkers
If you see any of these red flags, it’s important to address them as soon as possible. Talk to the employee and try to get to the root of the problem. If it’s something you can fix, then do your best to do so. If it’s something that can’t be resolved, then you might need to start thinking about how to fill that position.
How to address these issues before they walk away
The best employers will proactively look for signs of a disgruntled employee, and seek out ways to fix the problem before it even becomes one. There are some easy ways to address potential quitting issues, though you won’t be able to stop everyone. Try these first:
- Communicate: Make sure employees feel like they can talk to you about anything, without fear of retribution. In any aspect of business, communication is key to success.
- Listen: When employees feel like they’re being heard, they’re more likely to trust their employers. Encourage feedback and consider it, even if you disagree with it.
- Address concerns: If an employee has a legitimate concern, address it head-on. Don’t try to sweep it under the rug or make excuses. Involve them in that process instead of working behind the scenes. Let them know that their voice was heard and it is being recognized.
- Be honest: If you know there’s an issue and you can’t change it, be upfront about that too. There’s probably a reason that they hadn’t considered or don’t understand. Make sure to take the time to allow them to absorb and understand the decision.
More than anything, work quickly! The top reasons why employees quit their jobs are powerful motivators, and they can result in quick decisions. Don’t wait around to see if something will fix itself because it might soon be too late.
Ways to entice employees to stay
You’ve tried your best to solve the issue before it became a concern but it’s too late — they’ve made up their mind. You’re about to have a good employee quit. The fight’s not over yet! There are a handful of things that you can try before they walk out the door.
- Bonuses: Monetary bonuses are always a solid way to show your appreciation for a job well done.
- Extra Time Off: Letting employees take time off when they need it, or even just as a reward, is a great way to show them you care.
- Flexible Schedule: Allowing employees to work their hours around their personal lives can be the difference between keeping and losing them.
- Growth Opportunities: Promoting an employee shows that you see their potential and want to help them grow in their career.
- Training and Development: Employees want to know that they’re constantly learning and growing in their job. Providing opportunities for training and development is a great way to show them you care.
Importantly, some of these options may not be feasible for your business. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of each before making a decision, and only offer what will benefit your business.
In most cases, it’s going to come down to salary. The money a person makes is often considered the most important part of their job, and by increasing it, you can often keep them from quitting.
Maybe they were just offered a little bit more somewhere else, maybe they have a new financial stressor like a child or another dependant. No matter what it is, increasing their salary is often the most surefire way to keep them from quitting.
Final Thoughts: Don’t make these mistakes!
Remember, losing a good team member can drastically affect your business. It’s hard to understand why employees quit, and because of that, a manager or operator can often overreact to unavoidable turnover. To avoid it in the first place, try to avoid these mistakes:
- Not listening to employees: Employees will often give you clues that they’re considering quitting. If you’re not listening, you’ll miss out on those clues and won’t be able to address the situation before it’s too late.
- Not giving employees a sense of purpose: People need to feel like their work matters to stay engaged in their job. Without a sense of purpose, employees can quickly become disengaged and start looking for other opportunities.
- Focusing solely on numbers: While metrics are important, they should never overshadow the people working behind them. When managers or operators only focus on numbers and forget about the individuals, it creates an environment that is less than desirable to work in.
- Micromanaging: This can quickly become a source of frustration for employees. If you’re constantly checking up on them or telling them what to do, they’ll start to feel like they’re not trusted and will likely look for other opportunities.
- Not providing growth opportunities: Employees want to know that they’re progressing in their jobs. If there aren’t any growth opportunities, they’ll quickly become dissatisfied and may look for a new opportunity.
- Not investing in employee retention: Investing in employee retention doesn’t mean just throwing money at the problem. It means creating an environment where employees feel valued, appreciated, and supported. When you invest in your employees, they’re more likely to stay with you for the long haul.
- Not being transparent: Employees want to know what’s going on in the company. If there are changes happening, they want to be a part of the discussion. By not being transparent, you’re setting yourself up for employees to feel left out and disconnected from the organization.
If you can avoid these common mistakes, while proactively addressing potential issues, you’ll already be well on your way to solving many of the reasons why employees quit!