It is essential to hire, develop and retain top talent to ensure your business stays innovative, efficient, successful and long lasting. Losing top talent can affect a company’s morale, leave a skill deficit, and place a burden on the remaining employees to pick up the slack. Turnover is also a burden because employers must dedicate resources to finding replacement personnel to ensure productivity and service quality levels remain high.

Despite popular belief, employees actually value loyalty to their employer. They shun the idea of job hunting and looking for another business to join every 5 – 7 years. Employees want to be on a winning team whose growth and development can provide them with new skills and opportunities for professional advancement.

As a business psychologist and HR consultant that assists businesses with recruitment, development and retention of their top talent, I often ask their job candidates why are they leaving their current employer for our open position. Many, if not most of the reasons shared, usually fall within the same 5 categories. Below are the top 5 reasons employees express why they are leaving their current employer and what business owners can implement to retain their top talent.

  1. Companies lose sight of their employees’ value. They maintain a Theory X mindset that an employee should be lucky to have a job, especially in this economy, and are easily replaceable. Employees express good fortune at being employed, but they also express a desire to belong to an organization that cares about their well being. When employees feel they are only padding the pocket of their employer and their basic Maslow needs of belonging and esteem aren’t being met, they are prime to quit. Simple strategies such as employee appreciation days, handwritten notes to thank them for their effort and work and demonstrating care towards employees can go a long way to keeping them around for the long haul.
  2. Companies that have exited the start-up phase remain stagnant in their development of new ideas. Businesses must remember employees like being part of a winning team where they can leave an indelible mark. Businesses cannot forget to be innovative, launch new products and services, develop a pipeline of new contracts and groom current employees to participate in these new endeavors, if they want to remain competitive, both in the marketplace and in recruiting. As these opportunities come to fruition, businesses should talk with their employees to learn about how they can contribute to these new opportunities and provide them with training to work in these new, exciting arenas.
  3. Companies do not properly train employees. Employees want to be set-up for success and not failure. They recognize that with all new positions they must demonstrate the willingness to be a self-starter, go-getter and quick learner. Improperly or untrained employees express frustration that their employers overly rely on them being a quick-learner and don’t provide them with enough training, mentorship or plain guidance and direction to be successful on the job. A lack of training often results in unnecessary errors, reprimands and low employee morale. When an employee regularly feels defeated, they are prime for voluntarily exiting the company to find an employer who will take the time to train them to do their job and do it well. Businesses must set-aside time to properly train their employees, partner them up with senior employees who can walk them through the ins and outs of the job, and give the employee continuous guidance and feedback to improve their performance, ensure their success and the company’s success.
  4. Employees leave when they perceive their work environment as an unhealthy one. Managers and employees must learn how their words and actions can set the tone for an unhealthy workplace, how to determine whether their department is on the verge of toxicity and how to implement techniques to boost morale and foster a healthy workplace. By giving managers the tools and skills to effectively communicate, coach and motivate their team, they will be better equipped to manage conflicts, and collaborate and influence others, thus reducing employee turnover
  5. A lack of work/life balance. Employees dislike when work bleeds into their personal time. In fact, in the U.S. approximately 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured and squeezed to the point of anxiety, depression and disease, and 63% of Americans report they are not coping effectively with stress. When workers feel there is no balance between work and home, and they are always on call miss out on touching moments in their family members life, they will likely quit regardless of financial compensation. Business owners who overly rely on employees should consider hiring another employee even on a part-time basis so they don’t invoke employee burnout. Companies can also provide and insist that employees take vacation time to refresh and recuperate, protect employees personal time by not calling or asking them to work on their days off, and sticking to the work schedule and responsibilities originally defined in the job interview.

Businesses that take the time to reflect as to whether they are creating circumstances that contribute to employee turnover can increase the likelihood that they retain their top talent and ensure their company’s success.