5 Reasons why good employees leave

Written by Michael Scheiner, Edited by Alison Robins, Illustrated by Chloe Allard
Published on December 20, 2019 | Reading time: 4m

When business started out, keeping your finger on the pulse of your small to midsize operation was simple, and employee retention was hardly an issue.

Now that things are ramping up and the day-to-day culture of your company is changing, you’re feeling the pain of employee turnover. Great people you thought were getting along fine are leaving. Why?

Whether it’s a new recruit dropping out shortly after onboarding, or one of your first hires moving on, even one single resignation can be an employee morale-dampener for the rest of the staff. Costly too: According to the SHRM, hiring costs 6 to 9 months’ salary.

Keeping an engaged workforce was more readily achievable before your operations started scaling up. But now that the atmosphere at work is changing, keeping that same commitment to communication and relationship-building is getting harder.

Before exploring ways to curb your company’s employee turnover rate, let’s drill into some of the root causes of why employees quit their jobs.


5 Reasons people quit their jobs

1. Insufficient onboarding

Fact: 20% of new hires quit a company within the first 45 days. That first phase is shaped by how much onboarding succeeds—or fails—to show hirees the ropes and establish clear expectations.

In the beginning, everyone was new together so you had more time to get acquainted with each hire. Now, to ensure that each new hire gets the same quality onboarding, your operation likely requires a more structured onboarding process.

2. New office dynamic

Company growth means new processes, new personalities, new perspectives, and therefore a shifting workplace culture. During this “storming phase”, old and new must find a sweet spot. It’s common for some staff to trickle out if ample time is not invested in nurturing relationships, streamlining culture and building a positive workplace dynamic.

3. Neglect for the vets

Today’s workers need management to recognize their hard work, give feedback, and show an interest in their career development. During busy times of change, it’s often your seasoned vets who are soonest taken for granted.

These earlier hirees might be tasked with helping recruits or picking up the slack, which takes away from their more developmental work projects. Keep in mind that employee burnout and employee disengagement are not only triggered by poor work-life balance, but too little stimulation.

4. “Most people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers”

About 75% of people give this reason. The lesson here is that people aren’t only looking for high salaries and perks; they’re looking for good leadership with as much emotional intelligence as business savvy.

You’re not necessarily a line manager, but you set the example for the rest of management. In today’s workforce, positive, people-first leadership is a business necessity.

5. Lack of visibility

Our Officevibe data shows that 1 in 3 employees don’t feel they have growth opportunities within their organisation. This can partly be chalked up to a lack of visibility on what’s coming up for the company in times of growth, and how employees will continue to contribute. Your goal is to get people to envisage their future with your company, but change is scary so don’t forget to provide solid context around it.


5 Tips to prevent your employees from leaving

1. Be present, be authentic

This might sound abstract, but authenticity is a key factor in building solid workplace relationships. It can begin with the smallest gesture: introduce yourself to new people by name, not title. Share with them your own goals, and don’t be shy about admitting your shortcomings.

2. Keep people in the loop

No matter how busy things get, it’s essential that you take the time to touch base with people, especially during times of change. A simple 20-minute weekly meeting with an update on projects and time for questions reminds people of your commitment to their involvement in your company.

3. Build trust in your leadership

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to work towards maintaining trust in your direction. The first defense is to build an environment founded on trust, where employees feel confident and safe expressing themselves. To do this, it’s key to implement systems that facilitate constant and open communication.

For more details on how to build and maintain company-wide trust in your leadership, read our next article.

4. Hire internally

Before looking outside your operation for fresh talent, see if you can promote from within. It shows you trust your current workers with more responsibility. It also empowers individuals to develop their knowledge and skills, encouraging them to take control of their careers.

5. Get feedback & keep a pulse

The bigger the team, the harder it is to get a feel for the mood. Using an intelligent survey and feedback tool helps you keep a finger on the pulse of how people are feeling in real-time, so you can maintain employee engagement. If you’re waiting for an annual review to collect feedback and check-in, you are likely to experience some unwanted turnover along the way.

When you take the time to understand people’s pains and make necessary changes, you build ambassadors, and a company culture people want to stick around for.


This article has been updated to reflect current workplace and leadership best practices and trends.