As candidates continue to find easier and easier ways to connect with employers, headhunters, and other colleagues who have left for greener pastures, it is clear that a major shift has happened. Unlike in the past, employees, NOT employers, have the upper hand when it comes to making the decision to stay or to go!
This is an undeniable, scary, and sobering reality for any employer in today’s day and age.
As a headhunter, I’ve heard many candidates’ rationale and desires justifying and invigorating their motivation to leave their current employers. Even from often-times, happily employed, top performers who are making 120% the median income for their position!
Whether you’re the hottest company on the block or Forbes’s most inspiring entrepreneur, you will experience retention issues as long as these root causes exist.
Here are the top reasons why employees leave and what you can do about it:
#1. Uncaring, ineffective, and busybody managers. How many times have candidates complained about doing all the grunt work while their managers take the credit? To make things worse, their manager works overtime and expects all employees to “follow their lead”. While there is no actual correlation between hours worked and results!
This problem illustrates an upsetting paradox. Managers are not developing enough into their people nor working smart enough, yet somehow they collect the bigger paycheck. This feeds into the “inequality complex”. Despite the candidate earning a great salary with a great position, they feel neglected and wrongfully treated in comparison to their boss. The illusion (or reality) is that people at the top are getting more by doing less, while taking all the credit!
The feeling of injustice and maltreatment arises no matter how many unlimited perks, free meals, awesome bonuses, and monetary awards employees receive.
The solution? More empathy, coaching, transparency, and sincere effort by managers to earn their keep AS WELL. Just like how employees are evaluated, managers need to provide value as well. Top-down expectations no longer work!
Just because you got here first, doesn’t mean you automatically deserve respect. Respect is earned. On BOTH sides.
Why should your employees respect you? Are you financially responsible, morally upstanding, articulate, visionary or inspiring? Can you teach your team new skills so that they can actually receive something of value from you in return for their loyalty? Are you actively mentoring your team to experience an increase in their capabilities following your tutelage and example? If not, why would they stick around?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The moral behavior your company’s upper management exhibits (or lack thereof) can reduce or increase retention. Employees will be motivated by morally sound leaders. Only then, can a truly positive, encouraging, and ethical corporate culture flourish.
Conversely, toxic corporate cultures will have the opposite intended effect. Consider cutting morally inept leaders even if they are very profitable or have worked at your organization for a long time. It’s a hard choice to make in the short term but you will see that payoff if you’re serious about true change.
Let’s not even talk about the ease of social media scandals that can blossom when the tipping point is reached. See picture below. How is that good for business again?
#2. Lack of flexibility. No offense, any manager in this day and age who want a fully in-house, on-site team, is in for a rough awakening. Cost-wise and culture-wise, this is the remnant of an old-school mentality. An increasing amount of employees do not enjoy the drudgery and waste of time it takes to show up to the office and deal with rush-hour traffic back home to their awaiting family and social life.
Am I saying every company needs to go remote 100%? Of course not! Some people DO enjoy and prefer on-site engagement because they like the break from home. But more often than not, people who have shown their worth, experience, and contribution to their company, have heard managers balk at the idea of suddenly going remote.
A manager’s refusal to allow remote work, at the core, is triggered by fear and paranoia. What if you stay at home and totally slack? What if you’re actively job seeking? Or worse yet, stealing company info?
Let me just remind you, all of those transgressions can be accomplished AT THE OFFICE as well – and they do. Sure, it’ll be a little tougher, but if you have a bad apple, that apple will rot no matter how much you try to prevent it! If you can’t trust your employees to work remotely, you may have to reconsider why you have them on your company roster at all!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If it’s not their lack of trustworthiness, perhaps it’s your own need to control and micro-manage. These traits are not appreciated by anyone in the modern workforce, so refer to point #1.
#3. Lack of opportunity. This is the last killer of retention longevity. There are too many exciting roles, convincing headhunters, happy colleagues who moved on, encouraging your top staff to leave. No one can fight those temptations if they don’t see any growth opportunities with you.
Employees, especially top-performers, expect and desire challenge. Once they succeed in one arena, they’re ready to test their claws out on a tougher tree. Denying, delaying, or ignoring their hopes to move up (a positive trait btw), will totally destroy any hope left in your leadership and in your organization.
The solution? If you have people who routinely outperform yet continue to be shut out of promotions, you should be doing all you can to re-assure them and bring them back into the fold. They are a ticking time bomb and they’re actively plotting their careful escape. You can bet on it.
As a headhunter who profits off of growing retention issues caused by the afore-mentioned ills, I see first-hand how these are the root causes. If you can avoid these issues as a leader and company, you’ll find yourself saving a lot of headhunter fees!
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