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Top 5 Reasons for Employee Turnover

What do you think is the most common reason for voluntary turnover? ‘Poor relations with managers?’ How about ‘inadequate pay?’ Surprisingly enough, neither of those are the number one reason given by employees according to the results of a recent nation-wide employee survey (Kenexa, 2011). The survey included data from thousands of employees and employers from all major industries. The results showed that business leaders often fail to understand why their employees leave.  For example, 41% of employers reported that a ‘poor relationship with manager’ was the top reason for employee turnover… only 15% of employees agreed.

Top Five Reasons for Turnover

So why are employees quitting their jobs in such a difficult economy?  The top 5 reasons  given by employees who quit their jobs in 2011 are: (with percentage agreement)

  1. Lack of Opportunities for Professional Development (30%)  
  2. Inadequate Compensation (28%)
  3. Boredom/Lack of Challenge (27%)
  4. Poor Work/Life Balance (20%)
  5. Job Stress and Unfair Treatment (20%)

Growth, Development, & Challenge

Looking at this list makes one thing very clear- employees need opportunities to learn and grow. People do not reach a point in their life and stop developing. Human development occurs throughout the lifespan, which is why employees who become stifled, stunted, or stuck in their jobs are the most likely to find different work. It is no wonder that lack of development and boredom are 2 of the top 3 reasons for turnover. However, the line between challenge/development and stress/burnout can seem narrow. To navigate this line (i.e., enough challenge to learn and grow but not so much that it causes frustration and burnout), active listening and providing a comfortable space for employees to speak up goes a long way.

Providing challenging developmental opportunities for employees will have numerous positive outcomes beyond reducing turnover. Finally, based on these survey findings, focusing on the following themes can have a dramatic impact on retaining key talent and reducing voluntary turnover:

Although a paycheck is a powerful motivator, it should never be the only reason for coming to work day after day.  We have helped many organizations significantly reduce their turnover.  For example, at a large manufacturing company our validity study and recommendations for improving recruitment and selection practices led to a 53% reduction in new-hire turnover.  To see how we can do the same for you, fill out this form for a free initial consult.

-Robert Bullock

Additional Resources for Reducing Turnover



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