Study after study after study has proved the point time and again—money is not the “end all and be all” of employee motivation. Money is important, nobody’s denying that. And nobody’s denying that people generally work for money.
But human beings are complex, and what motivates us is complex as well. There are some aspects of our job that money just can’t buy. And when you apply that truism to the workplace, it becomes clear that people leave jobs for all kinds of reasons. Some of the reasons have nothing to do with workplace conditions, but let’s face it, most do.
What Does It Matter?
I don’t have to tell you (but I will) how expensive turnover can be. And while all turnover isn’t bad, turnover of skilled, valued workers for avoidable reasons is an especially troubling drag on your company’s energy, time, and bottom line. In fact, whenever anyone leaves your organization on anything but good terms, your company has failed in some capacity, I guarantee it.
So, now that we’ve re-established (1) turnover is costly and disruptive and (2) oftentimes the organization plays a role in the break up, let’s examine some of the common reasons employees quit that have absolutely nothing to do with wanting more Benjamins!
Here are 5 top reasons why good employees really leave:
1) Bad relationship with the boss
A bad relationship with the boss can make work difficult if not impossible. Because bosses hold the keys to plum assignments, pay raises, and promotions, it’s only a matter of time before a rocky relationship results in a resignation.
2) Rotten company culture
Plenty has been written about toxic workplaces, so there’s not a whole lot we need say here. The point is—only the rarest among us relish working in an environment characterized by confusion, backstabbing, lying, and general dysfunction. The rest only do it until we don’t have to.
Every job can’t hold everyone for all time. People will outgrow jobs and managers, and when they do the ambitious and conscientious will seek other opportunities. Sometimes those opportunities can be found within the existing organization. Sometimes they can’t.
Employees who feel disrespected by peers and especially bosses aren’t likely to stick around one minute longer than absolutely necessary. Examples of disrespect include demonstrations of disdain for an employee’s time, talent, or efforts; chronic and blatant rudeness; micromanagement out of all proportion to the employee’s maturity level; and bullying.
5) Unsatisfactory work/life balance
All of us have responsibilities and interests outside of work. When work demands begin encroaching on other areas of our lives too frequently, some of us will decide the best course of action is to secure less demanding work elsewhere.
How to Keep Good Employees from Quitting
One of the best ways to ensure better employee retention is to hire better in the first place. Behavioral assessments can assist with that. An employee behavioral assessment can reveal whether your candidate has the right traits for the job and whether your working conditions are likely to suit your candidate. Consider, for example, the candidate who loathes working alone. He or she is probably not going to be happy in a job that requires long and frequent periods of isolation. Behavioral assessments also provide insight on how to maximize your staff’s potential to improve morale and productivity.
And Last, a Word about Exit Interviews…
Many companies routinely schedule employee exit interviews to learn why employees have accepted jobs elsewhere. And while these meetings can provide some useful information on occasion, no employer should rely on exit interviews as a primary (or even secondary) means of gauging what employees are thinking. Here’s why:
- Apathy, anger, and/or fear of burning bridges will inhibit most employees from telling you what they really think.
- It takes a long time to gather enough data to identify trends.
- Information at termination tends to be collected unevenly, calling into question the integrity of the data. For instance, many employers won’t interview employees who’ve been involuntarily terminated, under the mistaken belief they have nothing worthwhile to say.
In all, ongoing communication with employees (through company-wide surveys and regular meetings, for instance) are much better for learning “what’s what” than the exit interview.
And oh … while more money doesn’t necessarily lead to better performance, not enough money can definitely lead to poorer performance, so employers do need to pay attention to their compensation structures.
That said, it’s 100% true that money can’t buy everything. It can’t buy a healthy culture or a boss who gives a darn, for example.
So if you’re serious about keeping your best employees, you’ll have to spend some time managing your company culture and discovering what workers want from work. (It also helps to hire right in the first place, too!)
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