5 Causes of Employee Turnover (and How to Avoid It!)

Written by Lauren Fischer | February 21, 2020

Causes of Employee Turnover

Human resources professionals have a firsthand look into all pieces of the  employee life cycle—from recruiting, interviewing and hiring to, unfortunately, turnover. 

Employees quit jobs for a myriad of reasons, some of which have more to do with an employee's personal life than the employer. However, the majority of reasons why employees quit their job are under the control of the employer—and, with the right strategies in place, can be easily avoided. 

Like many things in life and business, it's not what happens that makes a difference, but how you respond to it. Here are five popular causes for employee turnover and the fixes you can employ to help retain your best employees.

1. Limited upward mobility 

Providing opportunities for growth and development is important for retaining good employees. In fact, studies show that the "opportunity to learn and grow" was identified as one of the most important factors to job seekers—especially among Millennials, the largest generation in the current workforce. Furthermore, a staggering 72% of employees change jobs due to lack of advancement opportunities. Bottom line? If an employee feels trapped in a dead-end position, they are likely to look towards different companies for the chance to improve their status and income. 

The fix: The term "upward mobility" is not limited to titles, salary or responsibility. It can also pertain to growth on a more general level, whether it be educational, intellectual or personal. Consider ways you can sponsor growth opportunities among your workforce. For example, reimbursement for continued learning. It also helps to take a vested interest in employees. Make sure you're speaking to them about their goals and helping them create a defined path to achieve them. 

INFOGRAPHIC: Retain top talent with benefits offerings

2. Lack of leadership

HR leaders know more than anyone that capable managers are critical to the employee experience, and each level of leadership is important. While immediate supervisors have a great deal of influence over their team's job satisfaction and engagement, those in senior leadership roles are responsible for communicating  the organization's vision and values, while assuring employees that the work they do is meaningful. However, when the employee/manager relationship is lacking, employees may become unsure of where they stand or lose confidence in their employer. 

The fix: Employees don't need to be friends with their boss—but the relationship should be positive. Encourage managers to provide frequent direction and feedback, coordinate one-on-one meetings, and provide tips on how to connect employees to the larger organization.

3. Feeling undervalued

While some more than others, everyone seeks recognition at work. Failure to issue messages of positive reinforcement and "a job well done" could cause employees to feel undervalued, under-recognized, and even seek praise in the arms of another employer. Luckily, showing recognition is an effortless way to let employees know you appreciate their hard work, and simple words of affirmation are often all that's needed as a reward. 

The fix: in addition to the above, creating an award system is another effective way to recognize employees. At benefitexpress, we've developed a "Standing Ovation Award" that is awarded to employees quarterly who go above and beyond to achieve our pillars of success. Not only does this represent appreciation for the awarded individuals, it also serves as a motivational tool for other team members. 

4. Work/life balance (or lack thereof)  

"Work/life balance" is a phrase we hear often in job descriptions, career pages and even face-to-face interviews. While encouraging for candidates who wish to be seen as more than their "nine-to-five," it's simpler to put on paper than it is to implement into your organization's retention strategy. For example, work/life balance is more than company happy hours and team-building exercises. It's about the employee experience outside of work—which could mean re-thinking existing policies or expectations. For example, flexible work arrangements is a method that has become increasingly common, specifically the opportunity for remote work. If this has yet to to be approved by your company's leadership, consider this: companies that offer remote work experience 25% less turnover

The fix: take a hard look at your company's policies, rules and expectations. Is there room for change? If remote work isn't an option, consider "flex hours," a system that allows employees to start and end the workday at times that better align with their personal schedules. 

5. Corporate culture 

It may not be the number one factor, but overall corporate culture still makes a difference to employees. And, similar to work life balance, it's easy to over-promise an attractive office culture in job postings and interviews. That said, keep in mind what current employees and future candidates expect out of company culture. If they're a good fit for your team, they'll likely be excited about many of the things you're already striving to achieve—such as strong values, positive attitudes, high standards, and the beliefs that characterize your organization. It's when employees don't see these things that their eye wanders to other employers. 

The fix: While perks like free coffee, happy hours and an office pantry are 'fun,' they most likely won't keep an un-engaged employee from perusing the job boards. Employees appreciate a culture where management is accessible, communication is valued and direction is clear. 

The takeaway

The best way to retain employees is to stay in touch with where they're at. Are they happy with their work? Are they proud of their achievements? Do they feel part of the team? Are their needs for a challenge, belonging and growth opportunities being met? While acquiring this information is easier said than done (especially for enterprise level organizations), there are ways you can engage your managers and technology to obtain employee feedback. Consider these: 

  1. Routine check-ins between managers and employees
  2. Employee surveys  
  3. Quarterly town hall meetings to report on company goals and successes

Looking for more tips on how to engage your workforce and retain top talent? A streamlined employee benefits experience is a great place to start. When benefits offerings are clearly communicated and open enrollment is simple, employees are more productive, satisfied and engaged. If you're ready to take your benefits strategy to the next level, we're here to guide you every step of the way. 

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Topics: For Employers