To have success in business, you need to have exceptional employees. However, hiring them is only half the battle. Have you ever had a great employee, and thought, “This is the one!” They’re smart, engaged, driven, and seemed to really love the job. You can see yourself promoting this person, mentoring them, and watching them climb the ranks in your company. And then one day, they quit.
Unfortunately, it’s also easy for your great employee to find another opportunity if they’re motivated to. And there are many reasons why people change jobs. These days, it’s uncommon for someone to get a job and stick with it for the rest of their life. There are a great many opportunities, allowing our lives to be full of diversity and flexibility. It’s no small wonder that more than one in five employees are searching for greener pastures in 2017.
The good news? There are often patterns to why people decide to move on from what seemingly is ideal employment; and it isn’t just about the money or the location. Most of the company or leadership slip-ups that lead to a great employee leaving are completely avoidable.
According to a study by Workopolis, over half of Canadians will stay at their job for less than two years; only 30 percent for more than four years. Job hopping has become the new normal for careers these days, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If your great employee gives you the, “It’s not you, it’s me…” speech, here are some reasons they might quit, and what you can do to prevent it.
A great employee can get overworked
Some periods of stress and feeling overwhelmed come with most jobs, but nothing burns out a great employee faster than being overwork. As talented as they are, and tempting as it might be, you need to avoid over-utilizing them. If they find themselves constantly taking on more and more, especially in the absence of recognition such as promotions and raises, they come to feel they’re being taken advantage of. Not to mention, the quality of their work is likely to plummet as well. And who could blame them?
This leads us into the next reason why a great employee quits:
They don’t feel respected
“People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” No matter how much you like, respect, or appreciate a great employee, they’ll want to leave if they don’t know it. Employees are human beings, and it’s easy for some bosses to forget that. Even the most selfless people want to be recognized and rewarded for a job well done. When you fail to recognize employees, you’re not only failing to motivate them, but you’re also missing out on the most effective way to reinforce great performance.
And while you do need to put your foot down sometimes (and you don’t have to be friends with every employee), using emotional intelligence is just as important. Make sure your interactions with employees are always respectful, and that you look for ways to actively value their contribution.
For employees, here’s five tips for taking creative criticism.
They don’t see a future with your company
Have you outlined a clear path for advancement for your best employees? Or are they looking at a dead-end job? A study in the Harvard Business Review looked at why top performers are job-hunting, and they found that a lack of development opportunity is often the fuel that leads to early exits.
They might be the best copywriter, junior designer, art director, etc., you’ve ever had, but that doesn’t mean they want to stay in that position forever. It pays to get to know your employee’s goals and help them see how they can achieve them within your company. By providing the opportunity to learn and advance, it can go a long way towards long-term motivation.
Learn how to step up to seniority.
A lack of vision
If a great employee can’t see a future with your company, maybe it’s because of a lack of vision. You or the CEO may see where the company is headed; but do all your employees? There’s nothing more frustrating than a workplace filled with big dreams, but no clear path to achieving these aspirations. Without that connection, it’s all just talk.
My previous employer wanted to use his ad agency to start a new business, where advertisers would pay to work with him. Thus, no longer having to rely on client projects. However, that idea of what his business was all about continued to change: rednecks, home improvement, travel; and what he failed to realize is that you still need to do client projects to pay the bills and to fund your startup venture.
The reason some of the more successful companies attract and retain great employees is because they’re great at communicating their vision all the way to their entire workforce. People like to know that they’re working to create something, not just spinning their wheels.
Even if a great employee is positive and energetic, it’s draining to be surrounded by people with low morale. And why do they have little to no morale? Any of the previous reasons can lead to this; it’s a compounding factor as to why a great employee might quit their job.
Creating a team identity or unity may be key to engaging and retaining those great employees. When everyone else is unhappy and not putting in a good effort, no one wants to work there.
There’s no challenge or autonomy
Employees want to be always challenged and mentally engaged. So, if you aren’t providing the opportunity for challenging, engaging work, you’re going to lose that great employee. Set targets for your workers and make the tasks challenging, but achievable. Challenging an employee keeps them motivated.
Ensure that you work in close collaboration with your employee. However, few people are happy being micromanaged or simply toeing the company line when they have ideas for innovation. No one wants to feel that they aren’t trusted to make the most basic decisions in their work. People want the opportunity to be the expert in their own job. And that’s one thing that can make a great employee pack up and go. No one wants to be bored in a place where they spend a third of their day.
So how do you prevent a great employee quitting?
If you pay attention to these factors, you’ll reduce turnover and retain your most wanted employees. If not, you’ll be holding regular exit interviews and good-bye lunches. So, practice active listening and engage with all your employees on a regular basis.
Ultimately, many people who leave their job do so because of the boss, not the work. Ask yourself what you may be doing to drive your best people away, and start making the changes needed to keep them. Discover the ten workplace incentives that top designers want, or the difference between a boss and a leader.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.