Why Some Employees Stay and Others Leave

attract employees

So you want your employees to be in it for the long haul. You emphasize this in every interview. You hire the person that you believe in – the one who is most ambitious, most committed and most passionate. And then they’re gone within five years. What happened?

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Many companies seek to determine why their employees leave. They conduct termination interviews, searching for common complaints. If the evidence is substantial, they will sometimes make changes based on that feedback in order to increase retention rates.

But what about that one employee who you never thought would last long? He’s loyal and hard-working. Best of all, he always shows up.

One problem with this approach is that it’s only one side of the coin. The reason employees quit may be completely unrelated to the reasons others stay. They also may not be related to job satisfaction. It might be because of a tight job market or a compensation scheme with deferred benefits.

The best way to create a company with long-term employees is to evaluate both sides of the story. It’s good to hold termination interviews, but it’s also good to hold stay interviews. Call in that one steady employer who has been there forever and ask him what keeps him coming back every day. Gather as much data as you can from both sides.

Why Quality Workers Quit

  • Exhaustion: According to an Accountemps survey, 52% of workers are daily overwhelmed at work and 60% report that work pressure has increased in the last 10 years. Stress at work can lead to employee burnout.
  • Relationship with the Boss or Coworkers: An employee’s camaraderie with their supervisor and coworkers is a critical element of their job experience. They are too involved in their daily lives for an uncomfortable relationship. A bad boss is the number one reported reason why employees quit.
  • Autonomy and Meaning: An employee is responsible for his work, yes, but you are responsible for creating a culture of autonomy, accountability and empowerment and meaning. If employees feel stifled or a lack of meaningful accomplishment, they will probably leave.

Why Quality Workers Continue

  • Inertia: What’s true in science is also true in business: employees tend to remain with a company until they are laid off, fired or otherwise let go. Job satisfaction and the company environment influence this level of inertia.
  • Recognition and respect: Here is a converse correlation between those who stay and those who leave. It’s so often about the relationship with one’s boss, coworkers, and the company in general. The employee proves himself every day and has gained the respect and recognition of his colleagues.
  • Emotional investment: There is a point where an employee’s passion for their work and the mission of the company interest. This is the most important reason why great employees stay. In fact, an employee’s inertia will increase or decreases directly according to the compatibility between his or her work ethic and company values.

Good companies will listen to and invest in their employees. If you want your retention rates to increase, take the time to find out both why they look elsewhere and what keeps them motivated to carry on.