Why good employees quit (and what to do about it)


There is no bigger blow for an organisation than to lose an employee. The wound is deeper if the employee they lose was a good and high-performing person, and the salt gets rubbed onto the wound if the employee loved their job, but was forced to quit. When good employees leave a firm, it is a call to look within your organisation and evaluate what went wrong.

According to a survey conducted by Gallup last year, nearly 50 percent of the 7,200 adults surveyed said that they left their jobs “to get away from their manager”. When a good employee quits, says data drawn from 30 case studies and 11 research papers, it costs the organisation at least 20 percent of the departing employee’s salary. These costs are incurred on finding a new employee, training them and the lost productivity in this time gap. If you are startup still in its initial stages, such departures may end up costing you a fortune. So here are a few reasons why good employees leave that you can watch out for and deal with even before you get hit by the blow of a resignation.

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Stupid, unnecessary rules

Many of us would have stories of weird and completely pointless rules we had to abide by at the places we have worked at. There are unrealistic attendance policies, unnecessary dress codes, stringent work schedules and unwanted paperwork that can reduce the productivity of your good employees and put them off. Stop breathing down the necks of your good employees, and stop treating them like a bunch of school-going children. You hired them because you knew they were competent and capable, so learn to trust them. Do away with unnecessary rules and make the office environment an inviting one.

Lack of performance-based incentives

Good employees are those who go the extra mile to get their work done in the most efficient and economical way. What if there is no reward in meeting targets, minimising costs and outperforming your peers? Equality is a good trait at a workplace, but it should work only to keep nepotism in check. If a person who lazes around and doesn’t meet deadlines is treated the same way as a high-performing employee, the latter loses all motivation to do their job. A recent study by UK-based recruiting firm Genesis found that 85 percent of workers felt more motivated to do their best when an incentive was offered. So, recognise your employees’ efforts and reward them accordingly to keep them motivated to stay and work for your organisation.

Being overworked

Good employees already put in more effort than your usual employee to get things done better. On seeing their consistent output, managers may ask them to work even longer or on more complicated projects. Yes, good employees do love taking up a challenge, but depleting their energy by overworking them is going to end up in a case of killing the golden goose. It makes them feel sorry that they performed well in the first place. Also, working longer hours doesn’t mean they keep getting more productive. A Stanford study shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and after 55 hours, there will be no addition to output. Know how to handle the skills of your good employees and allocate work accordingly. Delegate not-so-important tasks to other employees and use your good employees’ efforts only for the most important tasks at hand.

Lack of opportunities for growth

Every employee desires professional and personal growth when they take up a job. Only a job that allows them to use their skills most efficiently and also pick up new skills will make us happy. If there is no opportunity to scale the organisational ladder, irrespective of consistent good performance, good employees will become dissatisfied, disengaged and demotivated. Same is the case when they get stuck doing the same work forever. This will not only make them look for other avenues, it will also affect the overall morale of the workplace. Managers must take care to ensure that every employee gets a good mix of work to keep him mentally active and to also provide opportunities, sometimes outside of work, to gain exposure and new skills. Create easier avenues for professional and personal development.

If you want to retain your best employees, they need to be treated with respect and appreciation. Acknowledge their efforts, reward their performance and provide ample space for professional and personal development. It wouldn’t take half the cost of hiring and training replacements to roll out a better working atmosphere and opportunities for your existing workforce. Remember, good and happy employees are difficult to come by, so retain your best ones to drive your business to success.


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