Top Employees Leaving and the Reasons Why
News 7 minute read

Top Employees Leaving and the Reasons Why

Rise | September 29, 2020

Now more than ever, employees are looking for stable, secure, long-term roles with organizations; a career they can grow into and grow with. However, many companies still struggle with their top employees leaving and the talent gap left by a top employee who quits. 

That’s why, once you’ve hired and onboarded an employee, it’s critical that you do everything possible to ensure they aren’t looking to move on anytime soon.

Continue reading to learn a few reasons why top employees might be searching for new job opportunities elsewhere and what you can do to give them new opportunities within your organization.

Lack of trust

Typically, employees won’t stay with a company for a few reasons: 

One, they don’t trust leadership to carry out the business objectives and ensure the financial success of the company or two, they don't trust their managers to give them the best opportunities to grow and develop.

Another reason? Not trusting employees in their respective roles.

Managers may claim they aren’t micromanagers. However, most may not be aware they are micromanaging, and this lack of self-awareness can cause employee morale to drop and top performers to quit. 

As an example, a manager may not be micromanaging the day-to-day tasks but might be inadvertently managing trivial aspects of a person’s role, such as the tools the employee uses or the people they partner with.

Bottom line: Take a good long look at the way managers in your organization actually manage. Ask them to be honest—are they actually micromanaging employees? If so, what’s the reason for managing this way? 

Once you have the answer(s), you can work with managers to figure out a leadership style that better suits the top performers in your organization.

Lack of flexibility

If any of the following describe your organization, you may be showing your employees a lack of flexibility:

  • You do not provide your employees with a Wi-Fi password
  • You limit what they are able to access online
  • You do not have flexible working hours even though your business can sustain it
  • You heavily monitor employees who are working remotely 
  • You require employees to go through one person (HR/manager) to escalate concerns, even though that person may not be the employee’s best choice to confide in. 

If you want to be successful at managing your team and business—and prevent top employees leaving your organization—you must be as flexible as possible. Giving employees control over their work increases engagement, retention and overall wellbeing. 

Related Reading: 8 Essential Employee Retention Factors Modern Employers Ignore

Lack of innovation

Employees want to work on exciting projects, use emerging or innovative tools, and be able to access new ways of doing things to increase efficiency.

There’s nothing wrong with tried-and-true methods, but if you’re not open to change, your employees are going to notice—and then give notice.

Let’s take, for example, the idea of time and attendance. Are you making your employees fill out forms, then asking them to pass these forms to managers for approval, who then have to provide the forms to HR or Payroll to input and track in a spreadsheet? 

These types of systems (or lack thereof) are frustrating for employees, time-consuming for managers, and they leave room for error during manual input by HR and Payroll. Most importantly, these inefficient processes show that the company isn’t willing to invest the time and resources to provide employees with a modern, up-to-date system.

Another example of a lack of innovation is when the bulk of the challenging, innovative roles are held by a select group of individuals at the top and everyone else assumes support roles. This poor distribution of responsibilities will leave a small group likely feeling an enormous amount of pressure and a larger pool of employees under-utilized.

Lack of true employee reward & recognition programs

A thoughtful, clearly developed reward and recognition program, one that’s built with employees in mind, is extremely valuable in preventing top employees leaving.

A true employee recognition program ensures that:

  • Employees are receiving something of actual value to them—if there is no value to the employee, they won’t see it as recognition. Note that value doesn’t mean monetary value; a sincere ‘thank you’ can also be valuable coming from the right person 
  • The recognition isn’t micromanaged by leadership or needing management approval—if there’s too much red tape or a cumbersome acknowledgement/approval process, employees will see that the program is not genuine and only works if it aligns with the leadership team’s opinion
  • Recognition is given in a timely manner. A job well done, an exceptional attitude or a “wow” moment are things that must be acknowledged near the time it takes place, not months later. 

Related Reading: 4 Ways to Create an Impactful Employee Recognition Program

Poor management

As the saying goes, “people don’t quit companies, they quit managers”. When employees lose faith in their manager’s ability to lead them and help them better themselves, they no longer feel a sense of loyalty to them or the organization.

If an employee is being treated poorly or if there’s preferential treatment within a team, and the organization has no clear rules or guidance in place, then top employees leaving is as much the organization's fault as it is the manager's fault.

A few things to keep in mind about management:

  • If an individual contributor is the strongest technically, that shouldn’t mean that the next step is automatically management—the individual could take on a technical lead role instead of being asked to lead people
  • As a company grows, sometimes the manager who worked effectively with 10 direct reports cannot do the same with 25 direct reports. It’s important for the company to acknowledge that the role has outgrown the incumbent and discuss possible solutions, such as a co-manager.

Managers at all levels require continuous support and training; it is not enough to say that a manager has met the minimum job requirements and no longer requires additional learning. 

Lack of training and development

Does your organization have a clear career path for your employees? Do your people know what opportunities are within the organization as they sharpen their skills and expand their responsibilities?

Related Reading: Boomerang Employees: What You Need to Know Before Hiring One

Far too often, a candidate is brought into a company, onboarded and trained, then left to perform the job—year after year after year.

If you don’t have a proper performance management program in place, which tracks training and development requests and succession planning, your employees won’t feel that you’re investing (or invested) in them and may start looking for new opportunities.

Make sure that your company demonstrates that it’s 1) innovative, 2) trusting, 3) flexible, 4) employee-centric in terms of reward and recognition programs, 5) has strong leadership and 6) offers employees a path to growth and development. 

If you don’t have most or any of these things in place, you can bet that your employees will start looking for new jobs—now or in the near future.

Did you find this article informative about some of the reasons why your company has top employees leaving? Spread the word! Share with your network or others in your organization.

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