Why Top Performers Choose to Leave

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Published Date: 02/10/2014

 

Reneé Watkins

By Reneé Watkins

 

As we continue our series of articles on the improving job market and what that means to employers, it is important to point out the full ramifications of an improved job market. During the declining economy, new hires for organizations would often come from an increasing pool of unemployed workers. Now, with an improved economy and the job market on the rebound, the paradigm is shifting and new hires are being recruited from other organizations.

 

If you are on the recruiting end, this is excellent news. Your candidate pool that may have consisted of mostly unemployed workers just increased to include workers who may already be working in the very role you are seeking to fill – just for someone else currently. However, you could find yourself on the losing end of that equation if it is your employee who is being recruited.

 

As the economy and job market continue to gain strength, top employees who were once too concerned about security and doubt to leave their job are now reconsidering their position and their level of overall job satisfaction. Restored confidence in the economy is fueling confidence in their ability to improve on their current position. Also, your competitors are using the same tools you are to identify and actively pursue ordinarily passive candidates and recruit them to a better opportunity. Recruiters are getting calls from employed workers, at good companies, making good money, doing good work – and ready for a change.

 

Who are these employees, and why would they entertain leaving for another position at another company? What can be done to counteract this problem? According to a recent Forbes survey, the top five reasons seemingly satisfied employees leave a company are:

 

Trust

 

The number one reason employees leave their current employer is a lack of trust. This could stem from earlier cutbacks in pay and/or benefits, layoffs or other measures made necessary by a declining economy. If an employee is unhappy with the way in which a particular remedy was handled, or if they feel they are being kept in the dark, they begin to wonder if they will be next. Reach out to employees and establish a solid two-way path for communication. Be sure they are informed of company initiatives and the reasons behind them. Ask for their opinions, input and feedback. Make them feel a part of the organization and its success.

 

Recognition

 

Employees often leave if they feel unappreciated or experience a lack of recognition for their accomplishments in their current role. In an economy that has dictated doing more with less, many top performers have been asked to go above and beyond their job description. They expect and deserve recognition for pitching in and doing what is necessary during these last few difficult years. Make certain your employees are recognized for their contributions to the company’s success. Other employees will see this public recognition and become inspired to heighten their performance as well. Be sure the recognition is meaningful and for something measurable. Savvy employees will see through false recognition and be suspect of it.

 

Politics

 

Some employees tire of the internal politics within their company and begin to seek another company to work for. All organizations with an org chart are going to inherently have a certain amount of internal politics, so it stands to reason any new company they join will also have similar issues. The driving force behind their dissatisfaction is not so much the politics, but the fact it interferes with their being able to do their job to the best of their ability. Top performers are top performers because they choose to be. Anything that interferes with satisfying their internal drive becomes an issue. Internal politics will tend to ripple through your workforce and cause performance to drag. Isolate your workforce from this to the greatest extent possible. Make sure corporate decisions are communicated well and are backed by valid, understandable logic. Political maneuvering will undermine an organization’s ability to move forward as a single unit.

 

Manager

 

Sometimes people just do not get along. It could be a mismatch in personality or a difference in management style. Employees will get frustrated with their manager and may start to seek opportunities elsewhere. The difference between this reason and the other reasons in this list is there are often warning signs associated with this one. Frustration of this type tends to build over time. Casual, confidential conversations with employees and managers on a routine basis will usually uncover these issues before they become a reason for voluntary turnover. Act early and work with parties on both sides of the issue to develop an acceptable solution for everyone involved.

 

Inflexibility

 

More and more organizations are embracing flexibility within the workforce. Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are popping up as recruiting incentives everywhere you turn. Employees, like everyone else, want what they do not currently have that others have. If your employees are asking for this from your company and other employers in your area of similar size and industry offer it, be prepared to lose some of your top talent. Take special note of what your competition for talent is implementing and adopt similar incentives if they can work within your business model.

 

Although these are the top five reasons employees voluntarily leave their current position, there is one primary reason that is not listed here. One of the biggest reasons employees leave is because business leaders often fail to understand why employees leave. Employers go to great lengths and follow detailed processes and procedures when recruiting and onboarding new employees. During their tenure with the company, employers reach out to employees at least annually or semi-annually to evaluate their performance, praise accomplishments and recommend improvements.

 

Several forward-thinking companies have begun the practice of conducting periodic “stay interviews.” It only makes good sense to interview your best performers while they are working for you, rather than only gain their honest feedback when they are on their way out the door.

 

So, why not schedule casual interviews with the best performers and those who have the highest potential within your organization? Find out what is on their mind, as well as any issues or concerns they have. Ask about ideas they have regarding the corporate culture or even improvements in processes, policies or production. Most importantly, apply what is learned during this conversation where applicable and avoid voluntary turnover.

 

If you have questions about retaining top talent and/or exit interviews, please contact a member of CAI's Advice & Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

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