We all know that people are your most important asset.  They create new ideas, service your customers, and handle all the things that machines simply cannot.  Let’s face it, that large payroll expense on your income statement is there for a reason.  You have probably spent quite a bit of time trying to hire the best people, the smartest people, and the ones that fit your company’s culture; essentially trying to build your dream team.  You have probably never gotten your entire team just perfect, but most likely you have identified a few MVPs, your go-to people who you know can solve the problem or get things done.  On a few occasions, you probably didn’t even fathom the idea of that person leaving the company…but then they do.

Why? They probably have given you some explanation about a great new opportunity that they couldn’t pass up, and that may be true, but chances are there is another reason that is not being communicated.  So to help you keep your most important people and hopefully finish assembling that dream team, here are 6 of the top reasons people leave and some suggestions for avoiding these pitfalls.

  • Unchallenged – Although we tend to think of routine as a good thing, employees who find themselves doing the same thing day after day, or who find their responsibilities unchanged, eventually get bored. Good employees look for new challenges and want to grow. The lack of challenge can leave an employee feeling unfulfilled and potentially even untrusted.  As a result, they will look for an employer willing to provide that new experience.  Talk to your employees about their roles, specifically what parts they dislike, what they enjoy, and what they would like to learn.  Consider giving each of your employees a new responsibility at least annually, while also keeping in mind that some of their previous responsibilities may also need to be reallocated to someone else.
  • Lacking opportunity for advancement – Good employees often look to advance into higher and more rewarding positions. Those employees will become frustrated if they feel no advancement opportunities exist or if the path to succession is unclear. Similarly, employees can become frustrated if they feel that someone less qualified for a position has been promoted, while they resume the same position. Make sure that job descriptions and responsibilities are clear; and that the company has an organization chart to keep employees aware of potential roles that they can work towards.
  • Inadequate system of rewards – Employees want to feel valued for their efforts, especially when putting in extra hours to meet a deadline or accomplish a big project, but also on a day to day basis. If employees feel under compensated for the work they perform, they will likely leave in search of a job where they feel compensation is more adequate.  Additionally, when employees go above and beyond their daily responsibilities, they want to feel appreciated for that extra effort.  Employees should be recognized both financially and publicly.  Consider announcing good work and accomplishments during company meetings, or awarding bonuses for exceeding certain performance goals.
  • No connection to the big picture – Although employees can be exceptional at fulfilling their role, it can be easy to lose sight of where that role fits into the big picture or overall mission of the organization. This can cause the employee to feel a lack of meaningfulness, which can reduce motivation or excitement towards that role. Make sure your employees are aware of how their role fits into the organization’s overall goals. This will help to give your employees a sense of purpose.  Additionally, try to give your employees new responsibilities that fit their interests and specific skills. Developing your employees’ specific interests and skills creates trust and empowerment, which can also help to boost motivation and morale.
  • Feeling like a number – We often get so caught up in our work and getting things done that we forget to ask people how they’re doing. In these situations, employees may see how their role is important to the organization, but they don’t feel that they themselves filling that role, rather than someone else, is important to the organization. It’s important to listen to your people. Make time for your employees, be respectful, and make sure they know they are valued.
  • All work and no play – Feeling overworked is one of the top reasons employees claim for leaving their job. We have several commitments in the course of a day in addition to our jobs, such as our family, our health, and our hobbies; and employees want a job that leaves enough time for all the other commitments.  Many employers have started creating flexible work arrangements that allow employees to create a schedule that works best for them, rather than the typical nine to five work day.  Employers are also looking for ways to make the workplace fun to boost employee morale. Consider having at least one fun activity a month, such as a team competition, or office lunch, or small after work happy hour.
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