Are Employees Quitting Their Jobs, or Their Bosses?

Posted on May 19, 2014 by RSW

According to The Herman Group, 75 percent of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs say they’re not pursuing other interests or chasing more money—they’re escaping bad managers and poor leadership.

Using our experience in internal communications, we looked at some of the most common things employees say after they quit, and how bosses can address these issues before it’s too late.

1. “My boss didn’t have a lot of time for feedback. The only time I ever heard anything was if there was a problem.”

Many leaders assume feedback can wait until an employee’s annual review, but they don’t realize that time can dilute the impact. According to Towers Watson, 43 percent of highly-engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. Only 18 percent of employees with low engagement receive frequent response from their bosses. When managers are stingy with feedback, it leaves employees frustrated and wondering if their efforts really make a difference.

2. “I made pretty good money at my old job, but my manager was unbearable. I took the first new job I could find, even though it meant a pay cut.”

When employees turn in their notices, 89 percent of bosses think that the employee has found a more lucrative opportunity. But that’s hardly ever the case. In Leigh Branham’s Book The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, Branham finds that only 12 percent of employees leave because of money.

Recognition is priceless. Acknowledging employees’ efforts, either verbally, through email, or with a simple thank you note, shows them that their contributions are noticed and valued. Recognition is a basic human need, and if employees aren’t getting it, they’re likely to look elsewhere.

3. “My job didn’t have a lot of meaning. It was ‘just a job’ to me. I felt stuck.”

Leaders should actively help their team members understand that their roles are more than “just a job” by showing them how their efforts relate to the company’s mission and contribute to its success. Town hall-style meetings and informal lunches with the boss are great methods for encouraging feedback and forging personal connections.

When engagement lagged at 7-Eleven, RSW helped this company rally its employees and show them the value they bring. By refining 7-Eleven’s corporate culture and aligning it with their “Servant Leadership” philosophy, the company was able to motivate employees across North America.

It’s not perks or pay that keeps employees in a workplace: it’s leadership. Adding a few simple steps to your daily routine, such as meeting with employees to discuss their work, sending a personal thank you note, or listening to employees and incorporating their feedback, could mean the difference between a highly-engaged team, and a group of people updating their resumes.

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