Why do employees quit? It’s about more than pay

Why do people quit? Money is sometimes a reason, but research by Energage shows it’s about more than a paycheck. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated. The best employers focus on genuine appreciation, recognition, and connection to keep workers on board.

Here are some common reasons why employees leave and what it takes to prevent it:

Workload and burnout: Overworking an individual or a team can quickly lead to burnout. Prevent employee burnout by promoting work-life balance, encouraging vacation time, and closely monitoring employee schedules and individual workloads.

Toxic workplace culture: Beware of a toxic workplace culture filled with interpersonal conflict that doesn’t prioritize its employees. Improve that culture by asking for anonymous feedback; listening to and acting upon employee feedback; practicing genuine employee appreciation; and promoting two-way communication.

Poor perception of leadership: Good managers show strong communication, display empathy, and practice accountability. If those characteristics are lacking, employees notice. 

Lackluster benefits: Healthcare and vacation time are benefits basics. Others that stand out include tuition reimbursement; flexible work hours; and free or discounted gym memberships. Great benefits separate organizations from the competition.

Lack of flexibility: Workplace flexibility best practices include allowing remote work; open-ended work hours; and focusing on individual needs. The more employers can acknowledge the needs of every individual, the better off the workforce.

Limited development and promotion opportunities: Employees won’t stick around if they can’t maximize their potential. To support advancement, an organization can fill positions with internal candidates and nurture skills. Don’t let employees feel they’re running on a treadmill. Provide a path forward.

Lack of recognition: If people don’t receive the credit they deserve, they will seek it elsewhere. Creating a culture built on appreciation is one of the least expensive, most powerful ways to limit unwanted turnover. Examples include giving a sincere compliment or a simple “thank you” for a job well done; asking people how they prefer to be appreciated and following through; and encouraging leaders to demonstrate a culture of appreciation.

Lack of trust and autonomy: Employees value independence and trust. They resent feeling micromanaged. Create a culture of accountability that empowers employees to own and execute their responsibilities.

Lack of a challenge: Work without meaning is drudgery. When employees find meaning in their work, they’re more productive, happy, healthy, and engaged. When people clearly understand how their contributions benefit the organization, they’re motivated by more than a paycheck.

Concerns about stability: Nothing will make employees feel less secure about a job than layoffs, reduced hours, and budget cuts. All suggest instability. With a lack of information, employees are likely to assume the worst and move on.

Lack of values and mission: A solid foundation of values and a meaningful mission will hold an organization together, especially during turbulent times. A disconnect between what is stated and what’s reflected through action can cause people to leave.

When employees are engaged in their work, they’re less likely to look elsewhere.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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