This past April, job attrition in the U.S. reached its highest rate on record, ushering in what many are calling “The Great Resignation.” In this hyper-competitive job market, the cost of losing your best and brightest is soaring. Research reveals that replacing people can cost up to 40% of their salary. Losing key people limits productivity, damages morale, and requires companies to spend huge amounts of money and effort on finding and training replacements. Some turnover is healthy, but when it gets in the way of productivity or forces your recruiting staff to scramble to fill open roles, well it can be an issue. 

To stem the flow of turnover, start with the reasons people are most likely to leave. Here are five reasons employees tend to leave their jobs – we’ll leave it up to your HR team to find the cures.

Symptom #1: chronic stagnation 

A major demotivator is the lack of new professional horizons. Promising the “same old, same old” only guarantees that your most ambitious and talented people will tune out of your company and check out of their role entirely. One survey found that 42% of respondents feel that their job satisfaction is based on having opportunities for career development. You can show that your company is taking an active interest in its people’s growth by sending them to conferences, workshops, and creating a mentoring program. Another idea is to promote from within your company whenever you can.

Symptom #2: dependency disorder

Your stars will up and leave if they don’t feel empowered to own their roles and responsibilities at your company. By giving your people decision-making authority they’ll be able to grow their skills, which will benefit the entire business. A smart way to go about empowering your people is to have department leads set strategic goals and benchmarks. Then, they should allow their people to work out how to hit these targets. Such an environment will jumpstart your people’s creativity and encourage them to develop their own ideas. Over 70% of people rank empowerment as an important element of their engagement at work. 

Symptom #3: feedback deficiency syndrome 

Giving constructive feedback is crucial to people’s individual growth. It also makes them feel that their efforts are being noticed and valued. Giving honest feedback can be tough to do. But it’s also one of the keys to a successful company. For feedback to work, you need to make it continuous and apply it to everyone in your company, from the newest intern to the CEO. The feedback that motivates someone to do better tends to focus on the problem (not the person), is supportive in tone, and gives people the power to work out a solution together with their managers. Once you have a feedback loop that puts people at ease, you’ll start to see dramatic changes in their employee lifecycle

Symptom #4: not so wellbeing

People with a strong and steady work-life balance are 10% more likely to stay at their company. Putting a premium on your people’s wellbeing will also have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. Another survey found that a majority of companies noticed a positive change in their people’s productivity after they had returned from a vacation. Flexible work schedules, the opportunity to work remotely, and generous paid leave policies will go a long way toward showing your people that their work-life balance is a top organizational priority. 

Symptom #5: technophobia

The work your people are doing today is 3.5 times more difficult than it was back in 2005. This is why companies should invest in the kinds of technology that help their people adjust to their roles’ rapidly changing demands. Many decision-makers understand the strong connection between leveraging technology and retention rates. According to one study, 51% of business leaders say that outdated and inadequate technology is impacting their ability to retain skilled employees. Today’s working men and women, especially Millennials, expect their employers to provide the digital tools they need to work at maximum efficiency. 

Does your company serve cocktails?

There’s no single magic remedy for the scourge of high employee turnover. A more realistic goal is to build and maintain a culture that offers up a variety of treatments that can prolong the employee lifecycle at your company. Your culture should identify people’s hopes, dreams, needs, and challenges, as it’s much more likely to keep its best and brightest from getting up and quitting. There’s no cure-all for attrition. Rather, a powerful cocktail especially concocted by your HR team can prevent random workplace symptoms from turning into a retention epidemic.


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From Annie Lubin

Annie grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find her curled up with her cats reading a magazine profile about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.