The truth behind why employees leave

By Robert Half on 12th August 2016

People, more than products, are often the key to success for an organisation. So when an employee hands in their resignation questions should be asked - like why do employees leave, and just as importantly, what makes them stay?

Skilled talent can be challenging to find. No surprises there. What’s less well known is that a significant number of employees in the UK are likely to look for a new job this year. Sure, an element of employee turnover may be unavoidable. However the cost of recruiting, onboarding and training top talent should put the issue of employee retention firmly at the top of the human resources agenda.

What candidates are looking for

The thing is, the way we think about work and our jobs has changed over recent years. So too have the reasons why candidates choose to work for you rather than a competitor - and ultimately, why employees leave.

A Robert Half study shows location and commute time is the number one factor people consider when selecting a role, followed by the opportunity for career advancement and a higher base salary in equal second.

Understanding why people choose to join your organisation is just one part of the equation. It’s also essential to know what keeps them there. Are you aware, for instance, of the triggers that explain why employees leave? This, coupled with an awareness of what employees want, forms the foundation of successful retention strategies.

Three key factors why employees leave

The same Robert Half research discovered the three key reasons why employees opt to move on. Top of the list is improved work—life balance, whether that be flexible scheduling, remote working or a nine-day fortnight, employees are increasingly looking for ways to find an equilibrium between their career ambitions and their ideal lifestyle.

Following closely behind however is the need for higher remuneration, which highlights the value of continually staying abreast of salary trends. The Robert Half Salary Guide is a valuable resource for benchmarking as it providing current salary range tables across finance and accounting, financial services, technology and administration.

This puts the onus firmly on employers and hiring managers to think outside the square. Adopting a more creative approach to employee benefits, or by providing flexible work hours and telecommuting, doesn’t have to involve additional costs. But it can deliver big rewards in terms of improved retention rates.

Career advancement – investing in your employees

Rounding out the top three factors of what employees want is opportunities and support with their career advancement. Employees today are no longer just satisfied in their current role, they want to be sure they are working towards their career ambitions are being provided the opportunity to continually develop.

Investing in skill enhancement, and ensuring direct superiors are supporting their team’s career progression, tells each employee they are valued and have the opportunity to increase their personal market value simply by staying with your firm.

Next, give your people a real chance at career progression. Sure, not everyone has their heart set on the top job, but for those who are hungry to advance their career, having a clear career path and a straightforward understanding of what it takes to move ahead on that path can be exactly what employees want.

Finally, aim to foster a business culture where open dialogue is welcome and encouraged at all levels. When an employee comes to you with an issue, explain the action you will take or provide a valid reason why nothing can be done. Employees who are raising issues and offering solutions are generally more engaged in their role and are invested in wanting to see their organisation meet their goals. Ignoring these employees can often see them looking to another employer who will value their opinion and value the added-benefits an engaged employee can add to the bottom line.

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