Top 5 Reasons for Voluntary Turnover

Author : Robert Bullock
Published: May 07, 2012

What do you think is the most common reason for voluntary turnover? ‘Poor relations with managers?’ How about ‘inadequate pay?’ Surprisingly enough, neither of those are the number one reason given by employees according to the results of a recent nation-wide employee survey (Kenexa, 2011). The survey included data from thousands of employees and employers from all major industries. The results showed that business leaders often fail to understand why their employees leave. For example, 41% of employers reported that a ‘poor relationship with manager’ was the top reason for employee turnover… only 15% of employees agreed.

So why are employees quitting their jobs in such a difficult economy? The top 5 reasons given by employees who quit their jobs in 2011 are: (with percentage agreement)

• Lack of Opportunities for Professional Development (30%)

• Inadequate Compensation (28%)

• Boredom/Lack of Challenge (27%)

• Poor Work/Life Balance (20%)

• Job Stress and Unfair Treatment (20%)

Employees Need Growth, Development & Challenge

Looking at this list makes one thing very clear- employees need opportunities to learn and grow. People do not reach a point in their life and stop developing. Human development occurs throughout the lifespan, which is why employees who become stifled, stunted, or stuck in their jobs are the most likely to find different work. It is no wonder that lack of development and boredom are 2 of the top 3 reasons for turnover. However, the line between challenge/development and stress/burnout can seem narrow. To navigate this line (i.e., enough challenge to learn and grow but not so much that it causes frustration and burnout), active listening and providing a comfortable space for employees to speak up goes a long way.

Providing challenging developmental opportunities for employees will have numerous positive outcomes beyond reducing turnover. Finally, based on these survey findings, focusing on the following themes can have a dramatic impact on retaining key talent and reducing voluntary turnover:

Reducing Voluntary Turnover

• Growth and Development: look at encouraging stretch assignments, job rotation, or formal mentoring programs.

• Dealing with Stress and Burnout: ensure employees have coping mechanisms or work/life balance initiatives.

• Employee Engagement: encourage collaborative decision-making or engage in Lean/continuous improvement. (i.e.: Kaizen Events)

Although a paycheck is a powerful motivator, it should never be the only reason for coming to work day after day .

About the Author: Robert Bullock, MA. Robert works at Scontrino Powell, a consulting agency specializing in organizational psychology.

To read an article that discusses the reasons for why certain consultants stay in the industry, click here.

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