People leave their employers for various reasons and unfortunately, staff attrition is something that companies can never avoid entirely. However, when people are regularly leaving, it can have a negative impact on the morale and cohesiveness of the rest of the team, and overall performance could suffer as a result. As a specialist Recruitment Agency, as you expect, we often hear from candidates who are looking to move away from their employer. Based on what they tell us, here are the top reasons (outside of salary) why employees quit and what you, as an employer, can do when it comes to improving retention of your top performers.
Opportunities to Progress
We always want the best for ourselves – to grow, to change, to meet personal and professional goals – so it’s only natural that employees will always be seeking opportunities for growth. When there is something to work for or gain, it provides a sense of direction and purpose that can be incredibly rewarding. Most employees need to feel that they can cultivate and contribute to their careers – this means being able to see future opportunities where they can improve their skills.
When there is inadequate progression or minimal professional enrichment, they are likely to go in search of greener pastures where their professional goals can be reached.
There is a well-known saying that goes, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”, and although this may not always be the case, the quality of the employee/manager relationship can be a big part of why people leave their employer.
This should come as no surprise, as managers are central to most daily work activities. They are there to provide direction, support, and feedback to the rest of the team – to be the person employees can come to. Unfortunately, this system can turn sour when a negative relationship develops. Uncomfortable employee/management relationships need to be dealt with immediately. Ideally, the work environment will allow employees to escalate and discuss such problems openly.
If these relationships can’t be healed, it can lead to decreased engagement in daily tasks, lower confidence and motivation, and eventually drive employees to seek other work.
While no one is saying that all employees and managers have to be the best of friends, there is very little space for uncomfortable relationships in a professional environment.
Culture and Internal Conflict
When it comes to work culture, different styles suit different industries, and everyone has their own preferences. Some like structure and formality, while others prefer a more relaxed, casual environment. The environment at work plays an incredibly important part on employee satisfaction. Although we wish it could be true, personalities don’t always blend seamlessly. Clashes and interpersonal conflicts should be expected, but that doesn’t mean that issues shouldn’t be addressed when they come to attention.
Like management relationships, we’ve had many job seekers tell us they’ve left previous companies because of toxic relationships with colleagues. While no workplace is going to be perfectly harmonious, a foundation of mutual respect is central to achieving a positive working environment. If that respect does not exist at all, the workplace can quickly become somewhere employees don’t want to be.
How Can Employers Improve Retention?
Whilst it isn’t always possible to correct every situation, why is employee retention important, and how can employers improve employee retention, overall? From what we’ve observed in our conversations with top talent, these three factors stand out:
Reward and Recognise Your People
When your staff feel that their leaders value their performance and efforts, it helps to foster better employer/manager relationships and they are more likely to stay. Yes, pay rises and bonuses can be a great motivator, however, it’s not the only way to recognise achievement. It’s often the smaller, quieter things that can really make a difference. This can be as simple as praising an employee’s contributions to a project – it only takes a moment but could have a big impact on their engagement.
It’s important to remember that recognition can only be fully effective where a certain level of trust and respect already exists between the manager and the team member. Be sure to address this relationship first by tackling any conflicts, having hard conversations or changing the reporting structure if necessary.
Strengthen Your Team Dynamic
Foster positive interprofessional relationships through team building. Team building exercises and activities can be an ideal way to bring everyone together and increase morale, improve cohesion or recognise good results. It doesn’t always need to be big activities either – days out, parties, or mass rewards can be unsustainable. Smaller, regular activities such as after work drinks on a Friday or company sports teams are important to give employees an opportunity to come together and de-stress.
Additionally, establishing and communicating a clear vision (either of the company or specific team) can go a long way towards motivating the team and ensuring everyone is headed in the same direction. People need to understand both the individual and overall focus to know how they, as employees, fit into this grand plan, and how their day to day work influences the rest of the team.
Support Professional Development
Providing opportunities for employees to grow and progress is a key aspect of how to retain top performers, as it helps to prevent stagnation and keeps them interested in their role. This doesn’t only have to mean promotion – there are several other ways employers can support professional development in their business, including:
- Offering training and mentorship – Providing official or unofficial training and coaching gives employees a chance to hone new skills. Another option to support their growth is by appointing a seasoned veteran for mentorship and support.
- Widening the scope of responsibilities – Expanding responsibilities gives people a chance to stretch their abilities and be involved in new areas of the business. Whilst this may not always be appropriate, it’s still a good idea to regularly review the employee’s responsibilities to ensure they are given the right level of autonomy.
- Providing new challenges – Opportunities such as special projects, transfers, holiday cover and secondments allow top performers to gain new experiences which helps ensure they stay engaged. If this is not possible, consider offering the chance to spearhead or work independently on an assignment to build initiative and leadership skills.
While attrition is natural, hiring and onboarding new staff isn’t cheap and takes a lot of time. To minimise the loss of top talent, strive to engage team members by recognising success and providing a healthy professional environment that inspires ambition and growth. Do you have any employee retention ideas that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you, or for support with your recruitment, speak to the Harrison McMillan team.