Why Do People Quit? Here’s the Secret to Retaining the Right Talent

Career Guide November 26, 2018

Why Do People Quit? Here’s the Secret to Retaining the Right Talent

Turnover – people leaving jobs – is not entirely a bad thing. When people outgrow their roles or find new opportunities, they leave their jobs. However, when a company sees its employees leaving at a higher frequency   than usual or when good employees quit, that’s when we need to ask: what’s wrong?

Asking the right questions can help organisations, especially human resources, understand how to recruit and retain talent better.

What went wrong?

People leave their jobs because of a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it may be entirely personal for instance  raising a family or relocating but many times they may also be well under the employer and/or the employee’s control. Bosses do matter in the retention of people although problems with the job itself may take up more of the pie – contrary to popular belief. For example, if the person feels his or her strengths are not entirely utilised, or their careers aren’t going forward then the decision can also crop up.

Reasons for leaving a job

Generally, reasons for quitting the job may fall under the following:

  • poor relationship with a superior
  • lack of career advancement opportunities or career challenge
  • no belief in the vision/mission of the company

According to famous entrepreneur Richard Branson, his success stems from putting  his employees first. For him, employee happiness should be number 1 because eventually, when they are happy, so will your customers/clients. Gallup’s study supports this, claiming that highly engaged workers contribute in the following areas: 10% higher customer rating, 20% higher sales and 21% higher overall profitability. In the United States, companies lose as much as U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion every year because of low employee engagement leading to lost productivity.

Brigette Hyacinth said in her piece: “When you empower employees, you promote vested interest in the company…Employees are the heartbeat of the company. And if the heart stops beating…What will happen?”.

Keeping Talent: Employee retention strategies

How can we address employee engagement and retention? It boils down to employee engagement – engagement that goes beyond free lunches and ping pong tables. Facebook’s People Analytics team uncovered the following ways in which managers and other business leaders can improve employee engagement happiness and eventually retention.

  • Promote activities that energise employees – a promotion is not always the answer. Developing meaningful and motivating jobs is the ticket to better employee engagement. Lateral moves can just be as effective as promotions when retaining employees because people thrive in different ways. Some may work better off as a follower than a manager. Superstars don’t always have to be promoted to a higher position to reward them, sometimes moving them laterally and letting them work on things that energise them can do the trick.
  • Look into employees’ underutilised strengths – job roles and descriptions can sometimes limit the potential of a person. Facebook’s study found that the most meaningful jobs (those with the greatest employee retention and engagement) are those that tap into the “under the radar” or underutilised strengths of the person.
  • In another piece by Robert E. Quinn and Anjan V. Thakor for the Harvard Business Review, they claim that: “Every organization has a pool of change agents that usually goes untapped”. We can create purpose-driven organisations by tapping beyond what is comfortable and usual. For example, companies underestimate the impact of understanding purpose and creating it within the organisation. Doing something “meaningful” can go a long way for many employees.
  • While the idea of a “higher purpose” for organisations may not automatically ensure economic benefits, there are use cases for it already. In fact, the Gartenberg study supports higher purpose has a positive impact on both financial and operating performance of firms. The research investigated 429 firms and 500,000 people.
  • Give them career development and flexible opportunities – people want to grow. It’s long been established that when people are given the chance to grow or develop into their career then the job becomes more engaging or meaningful. Making room for other work demands such as work from home can also help. According to the New York Times, 43% of workers in the United States are now working remotely. Flexible working arrangements may help retain good talent but have specific or special situations they need to cope with.

For employees, control over your professional life and career is not totally out of reach. You can try to make the situation better. If you feel like you’re on the verge of leaving your work or you feel exhausted to the point of losing interest, you can try to remedy this by:

  • being proactive – ask for help and clarify things if they aren’t clear.
  • Regrouping and prioritising – write everything down to keep track of things, voice out your concerns to your manager and be transparent about your views. Sometimes, it takes being honest to fix things.
  • Investing in your energy – take a step back and reflect on what makes you feel energised. Recharge by doing things outside of your work.

You can address the burnout and frustration by asking the right questions. Check out our piece on the burnout syndrome. Ultimately, finding and keeping the right talent is an effort both from the organisation and the employee. Establishing the right communication and understanding the context of each person and role can help put more meaning into what people do and eventually – perhaps – keep them longer.

Look at how Orbium is giving opportunities to its people not just specifically for their job roles:

Miguel Burgos Part 1

Miguel Burgos Part 2

Miguel Burgos Part 3