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Why People Leave Jobs: 13 Ways to Increase Retention

Company Culture
December 20, 2021
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A report by Oxford Economics found that it costs businesses an average of £30,614 to replace an employee, which entails the logistical cost of recruiting/training a new employee and the cost of lost output while the new hire is learning the ropes. 

Additionally, better mental health support in the workplace can save businesses up to £1300 per employee per year, that is a total of £39.4 billion a year in the UK. That’s why it pays to know why people leave jobs and why focusing on employees’ mental health is so important in promoting employee retention.

Why Do Employees Quit Their Jobs?

Every individual’s story is different for why they leave a job, but once you start to question people about why they quit their jobs, you’ll start to notice a few recurring themes. 

For some, it may be a change in their life situation that causes them to have to relocate, or it could be that they wish to entirely reinvent themselves by pursuing a new career.

For others, the causes are much more controllable and even preventable when an organisation supports them in a timely manner. By paying attention to how your employees feel on a regular basis, you can better understand their level of happiness, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.

Employees’ mental health is always a part of this story.  An employee wellbeing tool can be used to make understanding these key levers practical and possible. These tools can help to diagnose and implement preventative measures to help employees better manage stress, anxiety, and mental health issues that may cause your team members to leave their job. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why people leave jobs. 

1. Appreciation, Recognition, Compensation & Benefits

A study by the Office Team found that 66% of employees would have remained within their job if they had felt more appreciated. As younger employees enter the workforce, feelings of appreciation play an even larger role in employee retention. 

Employee appreciation can come in the form of rewards and recognition programmes, and compensation and benefit initiatives. They don’t have to be complex or over the top as long as employees are being recognised for their solid performance in a timely manner. 

It’s a good idea for management teams to find out what types of rewards and recognition works to motivate employees, and it can be as simple as asking them directly what they want for a job well done. 

2. Workload & Feeling Burnt Out

Burnout can be defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” When employees feel this way, they are void of energy and their productivity suffers. It can also contribute to employee absenteeism. 

The causes of burnout can include unreasonable workloads and pressure, high levels of overtime, and unfair compensation. Burnout and work overload can also occur when employees feel that something is missing from management or if they hold negative emotions about the workplace culture. Ultimately, these sentiments lead to a sense of unhappiness and feeling undervalued which results in a lack of motivation and pure exhaustion. 

If you’re not sure what the employee mood is in your organization, deploy a wellbeing platform that offers your employees the space to record their emotions and sentiments so that they can increase their awareness and ability to prevent themselves from reaching burn out.

Wellbeing tools can provide valuable tools and techniques to help your employees learn more about mental health issues, and self diagnose their problems inside and outside of work. 

By documenting and tracking their mental health over time both employees and employers can spot patterns and understand what affects their emotions positively and negatively. 

3. Autonomy & Independence

Most workers want to feel that they have a sense of ownership over what they do. This comes with autonomy and independence on the job. 

You don’t simply tell someone that they have autonomy, you create an environment in which they feel supported and empowered to make decisions, take control of their work, and are trusted while doing so. 

Autonomy comes in many different forms, but ultimately, it’s up to the company to develop a culture of accountability so that each employee is the executive of his or her own job duties. 

4. Flexibility to Work Remotely

Suffice it to say that the coronavirus pandemic shifted the way the world works, in more ways than one. In the UK, more than half the working population did some work at home and many people before and after this situation enjoy the flexibility of working remotely. 

To retain and attract top talent, many organisations are shifting to hybrid or flexible remote setups. Over the last decade, the trend has shown that people want to work remotely more as time progresses. In fact, Gallup research showed that 37% of workers will switch jobs if they are able to work off-site at least some of the time. 

If you are considering a move to hybrid working, then you have to think about the implications on employees’ mental health. While it does provide more flexibility and potentially more time added back in their lives (commute time savings, for example), it will also mean that your team members could feel more isolated as they lose time with co-workers. 

This could lead to depression or feelings of alienation. By using a wellbeing tool within your organisation, you can keep track of how your teams are feeling, while for employees, they can self-diagnose their own challenges and take proactive action.

5. Poor Mental Health

1 in 4 people experience poor mental health in any given year. For anyone who has experienced poor mental health, it's easy to relate to how difficult the experience can be. Going through a period of poor mental health can make life and work feel much more of a challenge. 

If employees are not well supported during this period, it could result in it feeling like the only option left is to leave the company and find a new role.

But, this most certainly doesn’t have to be the case. With the aid of wellbeing platforms, organisations are able to offer the support employees need to better manage and care for their mental health.

The right wellbeing platform will provide employees with a better understanding of their mental wellbeing, and the tools and techniques needed to better support themselves. They can also offer employers and HR teams with relevant insights into opportunities for the business to better support employees. 

6. Manager Behaviour & Relationship

You’ve probably heard it before: “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” This is one of the most glaring reasons why people leave jobs. The relationship between an employee and their direct manager is crucial to an employee’s success and happiness within their work environment. 

If there’s any issues within the relationship, it can cause anxiety, mistrust, frustration, and decreased morale. 

Relationships, by nature, have their ups and downs, but it may be useful to utilise staff surveys to ask employees for their feedback about their management teams. 

7. Corporate Culture & Policies

The overall culture of an organisation impacts how employees feel at work each day. Some ways to increase employee engagement include fostering an environment that prioritises: employee activities, recognition, team outings, celebrations, and team-building efforts. 

Culture also refers to how much room for growth and development an employee has, as well as the ways by which they are supported to develop. 

A surefire way to make this a reality within your organisation comes down to leadership. Leadership that models empowerment-based behaviours have the power to create a supportive and forward-thinking culture. 

It’s of utmost importance to ensure that leadership is trained in empowerment-based leadership and set up company policies that support this culture. 

8. Lack of Engagement

If you go to watch a movie and have no interest in the plot, are you going to want to stick it out? The answer is probably not. The same can be said about employees who feel disengaged or uninterested in what they are doing on a daily basis. 

Employers can play a role in designing an engaged workforce by getting to understand the strengths and passions of their team members. While employees have set job descriptions, there’s nothing wrong with expanding roles or shifting team members to focus on their strengths and promote deepened levels of employee engagement. 

9. Enjoyment & Boredom

Work with employees to help them find and communicate their passion. This way, you can tailor the job so that they are able to do what they actually enjoy doing. That’s not to say that employees will surely have times in which they have to do something they don’t want to. 

But, when they are doing what they like for the most part, then it becomes possible to overlook the undesirable aspects of the job as the good outweighs the bad. 

Importantly, ensure that employees feel challenged rather than bored by their work. 

10. Opportunities to Play to Their Strengths

The two aforementioned points of employee engagement and enjoyment have a common denominator, which is to play to employee’s strengths. When people are good at what they do, they feel a sense of pride and want to continue to contribute their best. 

Doing so will help to boost employee motivation, which results in increased employee retention. 

Employees who feel happy with their work and results will not be looking to jump ship. Instead, they’ll look for ways to contribute more to the organisation. 

11. Career Development & Growth

Speaking of contributing more to the organisation, managers should continuously check-in with their employees to find out where they wish to improve their skill sets. By understanding an employee’s areas for growth, organisations can treat them as opportunities for improvement. 

Employees should always feel like what they are doing and who they are becoming is helping the organisation to achieve its overall goals. As the organisation grows, employees should also be growing and evolving by acquiring new skills and pushing their professional goals further along. 

12. Work Life Balance

Work life balance looks different for everyone. However, factors that contribute to feeling an unbalanced work life balance could be exhaustive commutes, too much overtime, inflexible schedules, a lack of boundaries, and excessive micromanagement. 

This is especially important when it comes to the increased number of employees who are working remotely or within flexible schedules. 

There has to be a separation and cut-off time between work and home life. If you’ve granted your employees the autonomy to work when they are most productive or available, then you have to set boundaries and expectations in terms of communication. 

For example, you can utilise project management software that grants transparency into the status of workflows at any point in time without having to nag your employee for answers after hours. 

13. Relationship with Coworkers

Even if an employee spends most of their time working alone, no one works entirely in a vacuum. The relationships that coworkers form with their employees change their perception about going to work. 

While organisations can’t control these interpersonal relationships, they can hire for culture by choosing people who share similar values. 

So think about how you can set up opportunities for co-workers to network with one another and provide necessary resources by which colleagues can communicate seamlessly with one another (for work purposes). 

By Emma Dau from Unsplash

Final Thoughts 

HR and management teams have a lot to keep track of on a daily basis. Along with ensuring that organisational goals are met, you can see that there are many variables that help to explain why people leave jobs. 

A large part of what employee turnover often comes down to is an employees’ mental health and wellbeing. It’s vital to create a company culture in which people feel happy, supported, and comfortable to discuss their needs. 

You can use a wellbeing tool to improve employee retention by providing proactive support. Employees will feel empowered to improve their own mental health because they will be more aware of it with actionable data. At the same time, employers gain access to insights that can be used to prevent turnover before it happens.

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