8 Reasons Your Top Talent is Leaving

Today’s competitive labor market means employers need talented employees a lot more than talented employees need employers. And while pay and benefits are important, they don’t even make the list of most common reasons employees stay or leave an organization.


When employees quit and leave for another organization, many managers truly believe that people stay with a company, or leave it, based on their salary. But, recent research and our findings prove that this isn’t the case. Employees tell us what matters most is the ability to:

  • Learn and grow in their jobs
  • Have flexibility in their hours
  • Do work that is challenging and meaningful
  • Feel like they are a valued team member
  • Work with good bosses
  • Work with good people
  • Be recognized for their contributions
  • Be autonomous and feel in control of the work


These 8 qualities are what determine whether an employee ultimately stays, or quits. Consistently coming in towards the bottom of employee-ranked lists is “fair pay and benefits.” When it comes down to it, if the above job attributes are lacking, no amount of money will make up for the negative feelings you experience daily. When you’re paid a fair salary but your other human needs are not meet, you tend to cite the famous line, “I don’t get paid enough to put up with this s@&t.”


What’s exciting about the above employee list of important work-satisfaction factors is that, while we have little control over their pay, we have a high degree of control over the factors employees say really matters to them.


The five tips below will help your organization retain the top talent it needs to continue forging forward in competitive times.


Make Retention an Organizational Commitment

Employee retention is critical to your organization’s success. Know your employees and their values. But, don’t assume you know. Ask and listen carefully to the comments and responses of employees. If you’re not sure, conduct a survey. Once you’ve identified important retention factors, take action as a management team to support your employees, both professionally and personally.



Create an Exciting Future

Whether you like or hate President Donald Trump, you can’t deny he has painted a very clear vision of the future of the United States for the people who believed in his message. The Democrats did not take Trump seriously, but they did take his message literally. The Republicans did not take Trump literally, but they did take the candidate seriously. Get to know what work excites your employees. Give people more opportunities to do challenging work. Let go and delegate something meaningful. Support your people by providing training. Get people involved in determining the team’s vision and setting goals. Play the role of both the coach and cheerleader!


Remember, People Come First

Today’s workforce values a balance between work and life. Acknowledge people as unique contributors and value their time away from work. Entertain flex schedules and allow for telecommuting. When possible, provide comp time after an extensive project. Do all that you can to promote a happy, productive, and stress-free environment that acknowledges people have a life outside of work.


Spend More Time Leading and Less Time Managing

Demonstrate your trust by giving your employees more opportunities to direct their own time and work. Be open to creative approaches for accomplishing the work. Listen to your team and use their input. Serve as a mentor. Model what you want to see, and both praise and recognize the work and behavior that you want.


Form an Alliance with Your Employees

Ensure that each employee has set personal development goals around how the job they are doing will benefit their personal brand, lead to a gain of new skills, and build their personal value in the employment market. Employees need to know they are gaining skills that will benefit them long-term. At the same time, the employee and their boss need to know how the accomplishment of their goals will benefit the company.


Most leaders know what to do, but often become too busy to focus on improving what employees say matters. But…if you’re too busy now to focus on creating an environment that keeps employees, how will you find the time to replace people when they leave?

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