Grow Your Business. Grow Your Career.

Employee retention is key in any type of job market because the cost of replacing one person is often equivalent to or more than half of that person's salary. If it's a higher level position, it could even cost you more than their entire compensation for one year. In order to avoid unnecessary costs, as well as excessive time needed to recruit, hire and train replacement employees, learn more about the top reasons employees leave their jobs. If you're familiar with common problems and able to recognize them when they start, you may be able to put a stop to them before they escalate further.

Expectations improperly set

Whether an organization is purposely deceptive or simply doesn't provide enough detailed information to a candidate, not setting the correct expectations from the outset can cause new hires to be unhappy and look for employment elsewhere. Most commonly this stems from discrepancies in compensation, job duties, advancement, time off, etc.

There are a few simple changes you can make to combat employees leaving because they didn't get what they had expected. Starting before you even interview, try sourcing internally or through referrals. Those that are already involved with your organization - even on a contract or part time basis - will be familiar with the company culture and will have a better idea of the job and how it fits within the organization. Referrals also work because current employees are more likely to be honest with their friends about the job and the workplace. If neither of these are an option, at least make sure to spend extra time recruiting and conducting thorough interviews. Create a realistic job description and ask as many questions of the candidate as possible to determine if he or she would be happy in the role.

Lack of work/life balance

When the market is not thriving, many organizations will eliminate positions to save money. However, the duties of those positions end up being shifted to a single person, causing that employee a high level of stress. Choosing between work and family is not healthy, and while some employees may deal with it for awhile, eventually they are likely to go elsewhere. Working nights, weekends, over lunch and during holidays means no personal life and less job satisfaction.

Although this particular problem may be difficult to overcome if budget is too low for additional employees, you can at least find a few cost efficient ways to keep your employees happy with the workplace so that they will want to stick around. For example, offer shortened summer hours or the option to telecommute once or twice per week. Although they may still be working overtime, these small perks will keep your employee morale high. Other options include social gatherings with team members and free food in the office.

Poor feedback or none at all

Although annual or quarterly performance reviews may provide some insight on how your employees are doing, they are likely not detailed enough to actually give them an idea of what they are doing well and where they could improve. This sense of uncertainty and lack of direction is a definite cause of employee resignation.

Instead of providing feedback when your HR department says you have to, try to create a continuous dialogue between supervisor and employee. While it's a great idea to have scheduled times for feedback - say a brief one-on-one conversation once per week - it's also necessary to communicate in a timely manner about specific tasks and behaviors. Additionally, employees want to understand how the business is doing as a whole so that they do not constantly fear for their jobs.

No apparent career path

A dead end job is not something that ambitious, hardworking employees will put up with. Although budget cuts have caused there to be less opportunity for growth in many organizations, it's important to figure out a way to help your employees develop if you want them to stick around.

In order to make your employees feel more comfortable about their futures, keep an open communication channel about potential needs, fitting roles in other departments and tools they can use to prepare themselves for new opportunities that do arise.

Under or overqualified for the position

Employment research has shown that most employees do not feel that they use their skills or talents on a daily basis at their current job. There may be several reasons for this, but it's likely because the position and the person are not a good match. There's almost nothing worse than an employee being bored because the job is not challenging enough or overly stressed because it is too demanding and doesn't' fit his or her abilities.

In order to put a halt to this, it is necessary to first determine when and how it happened - at hire because you were in a rush to fill the spot or during employment because you moved your employees around to perform other duties that weren't their own. Once you've figured out why it happens, you'll need to change up your strategy. If you're not spending enough time to fill the position properly, consider investing in resources to help you, like staffing agencies. If you have a habit of moving employees to areas of need instead of areas of talent, consider delegating irrelevant tasks evenly amongst employees so one doesn't feel as though he or she is being handed the unwanted work.

Lack of recognition or value

Everyone just wants to feel important and as though they are needed, and employees that work hard but never receive even a 'thank you' will find somewhere else to work. Although it may not be necessary to publicly announce every piece of good work they produce, providing any type of feedback is a good start.

When it comes to employee appreciation, you should come up with a set process. Depending on your company and goals, this will vary. For example, if you're in sales and one of your team members closes a huge deal, announcing it to the team via e-mail is a good option. If you're in recruiting and one of your team members secures a hire, provide a gift card or cash bonus as incentive. Additionally, when your employees go above and beyond, thank them and let them know you recognize and appreciate their hard work.

Of course there are a number of other reasons that employees choose to leave - relocation, better pay, more flexibility - but the above mentioned are some of most avoidable. If you become more aware of your employees' feelings and abilities, you'll be more likely to retain your top talent for much longer periods of time.