The Definitive Guide: Why Are Your Employees Leaving You?

Tim Sackett Employee Relations, Managing People, Retention

When I first started blogging I would get messages from family and friends believing what I wrote was about them. It rarely was, but projection is a very strong feeling to overcome! Once in a while, it was, and I would chalk that up to strong personal insight for that person! Good for you!

So, why am I talking about projecting in a post about why employees are leaving? Because I’m seeing this in my personal life constantly right now! I’m having daily conversations with friends and family who are leaving jobs, and their employers have no idea! I think that’s a big problem!

Why are your employees leaving you?

  1. You stopped showing them love. But, someone else showed them more love. This stupid pandemic thing made it really easy for someone else to show love to your employees when you kind of just stopped. The #1 strategy in recruitment is making people feel more wanted than where they are currently working.
  2. You created dumb classifications for jobs that no longer make sense. Yeah, that one-year “contract” position worked really great when you had hundreds of applications for every position. You didn’t have to pay benefits, people were desperate to work for you. Now, others are going to take your talent because you’re just being stupid! Like, someone is offering me a long-term position, I can’t keep working on your one-year contract in hopes it might turn into something!
  3. Your Internal Mobility Rules make no sense. “Well, you need to work in a position for twelve months before you move into something else internally.” Yeah, okay, but I’ve been killing it in this position for the last six months, it was a position that was under my experience level, to begin with, but I really wanted to work for you. Now the job I really want is open, and I want it and the hiring manager hiring for it wants me! “Sorry, it’s the policy…” Also, you treat external candidates better than you treat me as an internal candidate!
  4. You’re being too slow matching market compensation. I don’t want to leave you, but the same job is paying $3/hr more, next door! Yep, I love it here. Yep, I love my boss. Yep, you’re a great company. Yep, I can not turn down making that much more money!
  5. You’re allowing an idiot to manage me. So, you’ve hired ten people into this group in the last year. All ten have left. One person hasn’t. It’s the idiot you have running this group! Maybe it would be wise to let this one person go, and keep the other ten. I’m not sure, I’m a recruiter guy so not super great at math!
  6. You allow weak performers to make roughly the same as what I make. I don’t want to leave, but if you’re paying Tim almost the same as me I have to leave! It’s the principle of the thing. Tim does half the work I do. I’m not making more at my new job, but the hope is they don’t allow people like Tim to exist!
  7. You are paying new hires with less experience almost the same as me. See above. There has to be some separation in pay bands based on performance and output.
  8. You don’t treat me like an adult. Let’s start with the premise everyone you hire wants to do great work. If that is the case then we should give them some freedom and flexibility to do their best work. Some employers are faster to move to this than others.
  9. You messed with something you shouldn’t have messed with! It usually is benefit’s or perk-related. Might be something most people aren’t even using, but some care about it deeply, and you decided because only 3% of your employees use this thing that it wouldn’t be an issue getting rid of it. But you were wrong.
  10. My organization’s expiration date is past due. Sometimes it’s just time for us to part ways. No real issues, we still kind of like each other, but the window for me to move up and be someone has kind of passed, and the writing is on the wall. I’m going to be a lifer in this position, and while you might be fine with that, I’m probably not.

There are so many reasons employees leave. We love to tell ourselves each time one leaves it’s for the best, but this is a lie. It’s not for the best. Each person leaving, even those we aren’t sad to see go, has an impact to culture. Too often I find we (leadership) tend to discount those who leave because it’s easier than facing the truth that we might be to blame.

Of course, right now in this moment and time, your employees have more options. So, if they want a different job, or more money, or a location closer to home, it will be easier for them to find options. More options equals more churn usually. This doesn’t mean that you have to let it happen. We have the option to fight like hell to keep our employees. It is almost always cheaper than just trying to hire replacements!