10 Reasons Good Employees Leave and What You Can Do

Confused as to why good employees leave great companies? Learn why so you can prevent turnover and retain your top talent.

It’s always painful to watch great employees with impressive skill sets leave their company for another opportunity. It can also be hard to understand why this happens. A company can retain good employees when it puts considerable time and attention into the way in which the business is run, checks in with employees’ job satisfaction, and takes their ideas and feedback into consideration. Identifying a problem or any other pitfalls ahead of time will help the organization not lose personnel unnecessarily. To retain your most valued talent, it’s important that you understand why good employees leave so you can do your best to prevent them from leaving. While any organization goes through hiring and firing waves, stability is important. This stability is built through your employees knowing that you value and appreciate them. 

10 reasons good employees leave 

1They are under compensated 

While budgeting is essential for any organization, it’s important to consider if you can afford your employees. While the market rate should be your baseline, you also need to consider if individuals have grown into their roles and acquired more responsibility, meaning they have begun to outperform their salary. Other factors that are important to consider alongside compensation include distance to work, overtime, and job quality, to name a few. More importantly, it’s important to take a close look at any disparities that may exist in equity. People will always explore their worth elsewhere when they feel resentment. 

Instead: Plan ahead for managing your team members’ compensations, especially for those who have taken on additional responsibility. In performance reviews or in one-on-one meetings, be sure to discuss compensation with your employees to evaluate how they feel about their pay. Be sure to hear them out and allow them to present their case. While your budget may be tight, the organization may suffer an even larger loss if an employee decides their compensation does not reflect the work that they are doing. 

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2They are overworked 

If your employees constantly feel exhausted, at some point, people are going to draw a line for their own physical and mental health. At the end of the day, we’re all human and no one likes to be consistently overworked. While it’s fair to ask your employees to work hard and in many situations to wear multiple hats within the organization (especially in small businesses), it will drain the motivation out of your employees if you push themselves beyond their means. 

Instead: Be sure to communicate with your team members. Whether you choose to have a one-on-one meeting, a team meeting, or an informal conversation as you’re passing by their desk, it’s important that you’re conscious of what each employee is working on and how they’re handling their workload. By reaching out to your employees to ensure that they aren’t feeling too overwhelmed, you show them that you care and that they have your support. This in itself is going to help alleviate some of the stress that an individual may be feeling. 

3Their goals are unaligned with the company’s 

Organizational goals are central to the success of any company and need to be prioritized. That said, if organizational goals don’t align with employees’ personal and professional goals, people are going to begin to feel disengaged from their work. Additionally, your team members may feel like you have not truly listened to them or heard them out on their goals that they’ve shared with you. It’s important that you make it obvious that you have taken their goals and aspirations into account when you think about the work that needs to be completed to hit company goals. 

Instead: Re-visit your employees’ personal and professional goals and see what you can do to best allocate professional goals to organizational goals. Ensure that lines of communication are open between you and your team members so they feel comfortable coming to you when they feel like their goals are unaligned with their day-to-day tasks. 

4They are treated poorly 

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you treat your employees poorly, they are eventually going to stand up for themselves and walk out on the organization. When you treat your employees poorly, you breach your trust with them and therefore any loyalties that may have previously existed are thrown out the window. Good employees expect transparency and a genuine relationship with their manager. When you don’t offer this to your team, they will not want to remain working with the organization. This is especially true when an employee is treated like a child, as this kind of interaction is demeaning and patronizing. 

Instead: Trust your team to get their work done, then verify their work after it has been completed. This way of approaching the situation gives employees autonomy and demonstrates that you trust their abilities. You can still hold individuals accountable for their work while giving them the space to complete it in their own way. 

5There is a lack of one-on-one meetings

If you don’t have one-on-one meetings with your team, there is no way of knowing or understanding what they’re working on, how they’re feeling, and what they may like to work on in the near future. One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity to get to know your team members on a more personal level, to open a private line of communication through which they can confide in you, and to hash out any issues. During these meetings, issues can be addressed well before they become larger issues that may require the involvement of others. 

Instead: Host regular and recurring one-on-one meetings with each of your team members. While these meetings may seem time consuming to you, they are extremely valuable and are a necessity if you want to be a good manager who is part of an organization that retains the top talent. If you demonstrate that you don’t have time for people, your employees will not feel valued and they will likely leave for a company where they are appreciated and given the time of day.

6There is no work-life balance 

While your job is a huge part of your life, it is only a part and this needs to be valued. If you don’t provide adequate work-life balance, employees are going to feel as if you don’t care about their life outside of work, which should never be the case. People want to work somewhere that they feel supported, heard, and seen. All organizations need to respect certain boundaries about life outside of working hours and acknowledge that all employees have busy lives outside of the office that deserve time and attention. 

Instead: If you provide your team members with an attractive work-life balance and respect the boundaries that have been set around it, employees are much more likely to go above and beyond during their working hours. Because personal relationships, hobbies, and down time are all important for our health, employees are not going to work long-term for an organization that does not value their time outside the office. 

7They feel underappreciated 

If you don’t give your team any recognition for their hard work, employees are going to begin to feel extremely underappreciated. It’s important to take the time to look for opportunities to congratulate or praise your team members, reinforce the good work that has been done, and be specific in telling people why and how their work was great and why you appreciated it so much. If this recognition and reinforcement is non-existent, people are going to lack motivation and will look elsewhere for a company that values the hard work of their employees and takes the time to appreciate all that they do. 

Instead: Put in place a recognition plan that you commit to so the time is always taken to recognize employees for their hard work. Giving your team specific reinforcement will also show your team members that you are paying attention to what they’re doing and that you are committed to guiding them in the right direction. This praise is only going to further encourage employees to keep doing their best. 

8The management is inadequate

Often, it isn’t the organization, but the manager who impacts whether or not an employee would like to stay with a company or search elsewhere. Many high-performing employees choose to leave excellent organizations with great reputations because of inadequate management. At the end of the day, a manager tends to make or break an employee’s experience from their first day on the job. It’s essential that managers participate in performance appraisals and are open to managing employees in differing ways that work best for each person’s productivity and development. 

Instead: Ensure that all managers have the tools they need to best work with and support their employees. You also need to ensure that you’re hiring managers who are well-suited for people management roles, rather than simply promoting individuals based on a skill set that is not related to interacting with, guiding, teaching, and supporting individuals on a daily basis. Competent and experienced managers are a necessity to retain good employees. 

9The company culture is poor

Company culture seems to be a business buzzword, but it’s actually a really important component of any employee’s experience with an organization. When an employee feels connected to the business for which they work, they invest and engage with their daily responsibilities much more. People are more likely to stay at a job where they feel like their personal values are reflected and practiced as a part of the organization’s mission and values. Issues around company culture (and there being a lack of) will often encourage employees to look for a more attractive culture elsewhere. 

Instead: Foster a transparent, clear, and consistent company culture. Ensure that you have established a working environment that positively affects your employees, including the way in which they learn, perform, communicate, and have fun. 

10There are no career advancement opportunities

If you don’t provide career advancement opportunities, it will be very difficult for your organization to hold on to your employees. Even organizations that do provide opportunities for advancement in employees’ careers can risk losing employees to other companies if they don’t adequately communicate that these opportunities are available. If people remain in the same place for a long time, they’re bound to get bored and want some diversity or advancement options. Because growth and change is available through a new job position, many employees will leave if they aren’t satisfied with career advancement opportunities. 

Instead: Prioritize opportunities for learning and development for your team members. Be sure to track your team members’ goals and support them in creating tangible steps to work towards these goals. Having open lines of communication with your employees is also important so you’re aware of your employee’s career aspirations and can help them to create realistic milestones to get there. Ensure that you’re always there to support and guide your employees on their career development journey. 

Parting advice

Retaining your talent doesn’t need to be complex. It’s quite simply a matter of employees feeling appreciated, valued, recognized, and supported. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the most common reasons good employees leave great organizations so you can prevent this from happening to you and your team. If you found this article to be helpful, be sure to share it with a friend or a colleague. 

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About the author

Kate Dagher

Kate Dagher (Postgraduate H.Dip Psychology and BA in Business Management) has a management and corporate consulting background, having worked in the public sector, sales, and corporate finance. Kate is fascinated about how our physical environments influence our thoughts, behaviours, actions and wellbeing. She is a certified yoga teacher, a passionate writer, and traveller.

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