Jan 23, 2019 | 4
Minute Read

6 Reasons Your Current Employees May Be Planning Their Escape (And What Can Be Done To Prevent It)

long road to travel

Most leaders of organizations probably wake up every day feeling relatively good about the state of their company. They likely feel confident that their company is generally held in high esteem by their employees that are, at least, relatively happy.

It would probably come as a surprise, if not a shock, to find out that, according to CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study, upwards of 75% of a company’s workforce may be open to - or are actively searching for - a new job at any given time. A 2015 report by the job aggregator site Indeed estimated that about 58% of United States adults look around at least monthly for a new job.

Understanding the costs and time involved with replacing a departed worker and hiring and training his or her replacement, it behooves leaders to do whatever it takes to keep the people they already have. So in this workplace economy that favors the worker, what can an organization do to protect its most valuable resource - its people?

Knowing what’s important to workers of today, organizations can proactively address some of the issues that can cause a worker to look elsewhere. The more a worker has the things he/she wants, the less reason there is to look elsewhere.

Why do workers seek greener pastures?

It is human nature for an employee to want to better themselves. Interpretation of what “better” means is unique to the individual. For some, it’s financially driven. For others, it’s love for what they do. Still others value time and flexibility of schedule above all other considerations.  

Employees have never had more control of the employer/employee paradigm as they do today. Job openings now outnumber hires, meaning workers can be much pickier on where they choose to work. They are taking notice.

Even workers who may be relatively content now have the incentive to look around and see what else is out there. Why settle for good when you can have great? High achievers are naturally wired to want to find the best opportunities possible. The same DNA that makes them a high achiever drives them to want to accomplish more, potentially leading them elsewhere.

According to Marsha Murray of the Houston Business Journal, several things factor into reasons for a worker leaving his or her current company, including: pay (67%), appreciation - or lack thereof (50%), unclear goals (35%) and work/life imbalance (33%). Interestingly, of those 33% looking for better work/life balance, 27% say they would stay if they could work from home. Other factors that can propel employees to look elsewhere include the level to which they enjoy what they do, their relationship with coworkers/manager and their long-term career aspirations.

What matters most to employees?

Employees have various things they find important in the employee/employer relationship, but these six considerations below are commonly found in employees of all ages, levels and skills. Companies that address these considerations are likely to provide a better overall employee experience which will encourage employees to stay with their current organization.

Job Satisfaction

A popular driving force behind job change is striving to find a job that satisfies a person’s passions. Why work just to collect a paycheck when you can collect a paycheck doing something you love? The simple fact is that a majority of us work about half of our waking hours. More and more people are looking for employment in fields that energize them and make them look forward to coming to work, rather than settling for a place they’d rather not be.

Pay Concerns

The constant struggle exists for organizations trying to balance profitability and fair compensation for employees. Dollars definitely matter, without a doubt. Other forms of compensation also play a big role such as health and vacation benefits. If a company wants to attract the best talent, there is a price to pay to recruit that talent.

Company Stability

Employees value a stable company that has a proven track record of success. They want to feel their job is safe and secure. While working for a brand new startup might be cutting edge and exciting, it also comes with a high degree of risk. If the company doesn’t succeed or the IPO falls flat, the employee may be looking for work elsewhere in no time.

Employee Appreciation

Employees want to feel as if they are contributing in a meaningful way. And they want to be recognized for these contributions. While not all people feel the need to be acknowledged publicly, I’ve yet to meet a worker who doesn’t appreciate a manager recognizing them for a job well done. A simple “nice job” from a manager can have a similar impact on a person as a fat bonus check. Such a basic concept, and without cost, it is surprising that it happens as frequently as it does. When employees don’t feel appreciated, they begin to question their loyalty.

A personal case study: once after working a long weekend following a full work week, a manager gave me the company credit card and told me to take my wife out for a nice dinner. He appreciated my efforts and recognized my hard work (as well as my wife’s patience.) I still think about that act of generosity, and the sentiment behind it, years after the fact.

Clear Expectations

Given a choice, I think most people would prefer to live in a black and white world. They want to know where they stand. Knowing where one stands with his/her job is no different. Workers want to know on what they will be judged, the time frame, what resources will be available and what happens if the goals aren’t achieved. Lack of communication regarding job expectations can leave workers feeling a sense of unease.

Workplace Flexibility

The older we get, the more we realize that time is our most precious resource. People simply don’t want to feel like they are constantly on the clock. Having flexibility in a work schedule is absolutely huge because it’s all about the work, not the hours at which the work is completed. Do you want mediocre work completed from 9-5 or do want great work produced when the worker is feeling most productive?

According to SHRM, when given the choice between half-day Fridays, an on-site fitness center, daily catered lunches, massages, or having a casual work dress code, 38% of employees would choose the extra time off. Yet, only 14% of companies offer seasonal scheduling, such as summer Fridays. Offering half-day Fridays, a flex schedule or opportunities to work from home could be a significant competitive advantage for companies.

Your most valuable resource: people

In an increasingly competitive market, retaining good talent should be the goal for every organization. You’ve hired people who you believe were the best for a position, you’ve trained them and they are producing. Why not consider implementing a few simple considerations that will make those employees feel appreciated, properly compensated and able to work in an environment that puts them at the best advantage to succeed? If you run an organization, are you willing to roll the dice on the status quo?


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Dave Clark