9 Reasons the Best Employees Quit

Many hiring managers wonder why good employees suddenly quit, when their performance has always been on par. What happened?

Often, good employees are gone and snatched up by another company without any mention of complaints in the exit interview or resignation letter, if they’ve left one.

The cost of a good employee quitting is more expensive than employee retention: Studies estimate that when a business must replace a salaried employee, the cost is typically six to nine months of that salary. For example, if a manager makes $40,000 annually, between $20,000 and $30,000 of this goes to recruiting and training expenses. For low-paying roles that have high turnover, it’s estimated to be 16 percent of that salary yearly.

Instead of letting good employees quit, managers must practice a type of preventive action within their work culture. Content and thriving employees keep a business growing, and good employees leave when their needs aren’t being met or respected:

1. Feeling Stuck

There comes a time for every employee when they feel stuck in their role, unable to develop their career further. No one wants to feel stuck in a humdrum existence of doing the same thing day in and day out like a drone, but sometimes the best employees get held back for being too good at what they do.

Dreams begin to feel impossible. What routes are there within the company for the individual to aspire to their dreams? What’s blocking them? Good employees want to grow and give back, and without a career ladder in the company structure, they can’t do that.

2. Inability to Develop Skills

Good employees are lucky when constructive and positive feedback is consistently given after the training period on the job. When an employee masters their skillset, an employer is happy and may assume the employee is, too. After time, feeling stuck in a rut may cause the employee’s spectrum of talents to erode.

A good manager will nurture and push their employee with equal and appropriate measure. The employer will find ways for the employee to develop and apply their skills, whether that’s in a new project or role within the company. Some employers offer to help cover costs to further an employee’s education because the return on investment is better than losing the employee altogether: An employee will typically stay with the company longer.

3. Inability to Pursue Passions

Work-life balance is vital to employees and managers, and allowing an employee time to pursue their passions is important. No one was born to pay bills and die, as the saying goes, and employers want eager, hungry employees who are passionate about their jobs, too.

Employers should encourage employees to pursue their passions, because good workers will continue to perform well on the job. This energy will also carry over into an employee’s work.

4. Overworked And Burned Out

Low-key and dynamic jobs both have stressful points, but all overworked employees eventually burn out. When the endless source of stress comes from the top, good employees will be buried. With no hand to help them up, they only can turn to themselves to find a way up and out.

They think if only they work harder, the work will get done and even out. They try to convince themselves it’s only one of those typical stressful points, but overwork adds up. Good employees feel taken advantage of in the workplace and leave. Employers need to recognize the signs of employee burnout, such as crankiness and drops in performance, before it’s too late.

5. Unseen, Unrecognized and Underestimated

Good employees want to hear “Great job! You’re the best!” Without this, good employee contributions go without reward or respect, and they feel unseen, unrecognized and underestimated.

Managers have already seen what good workers can do and that they deliver. As long as the job is done, all is well, since everyone knows their place and how everything runs, right? Wrong.

Managers must regularly and openly communicate with their employees to address their needs and positively reinforce them. Is it a raise or a bonus? Is it more social time to get to know coworkers or taking a well-deserved lead on the next project? Go big, or your good employees will go home for good.

Performance reviews are a wonderful time to begin creating a flow of open communication, where the exchange is mutual. Good questions to ask are:

  • How can I make your job easier?
  • What are your goals for the next six months, or the next year?
  • What do you feel is your best achievement this year?
  • What tools or resources do you need?
  • What do you want your next position to be here?

Employees may also answer with personal responses. Allow employees to open up. Managers should give balanced and empathetic performance reviews, actively listening to their employees.

6. Hierarchy Is Too High

Managers shouldn’t forget the importance of having an open-door policy. Sometimes, it’s not a lack of reward, but the fact that employees have to climb too far up the hierarchy to reach someone to be seen and heard.

How can those employees contribute or grow if there is no one checking in or communicating with them? Employers who have an open door and accept the need for an employee to skip a rung in the ladder to communicate will hear and meet their employee’s needs.

7. Lack of Common Respect and Trust

Managers expect the respect of their employees, and while many return that respect, others don’t. A manager’s ego may be too big, or stressors may get in the way. Even in the professional world, relationships fluctuate from good to poor communication and vice versa.

Some managers are so focused on turning a profit they fail to motivate their employees in a human way, respecting their contributions, time and value as a person.

Managers must remember the golden rule and offer up the same respect, decency and trust they expect from their employees. If this doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised when good employees walk. Treating employees with respect will boost their productivity, because it shows their concerns will be addressed with a considerate approach.

8. Negative Work Culture

When a candidate interviews for a position, all staff are typically on their best behavior. Everyone wants to give each other a good impression, but as a hired employee adjusts, negative work culture can become more apparent.

When no one talks about work culture, it’s clear there’s no work culture to speak of. It’s like fight club, but it’s often filled with managers who have beautiful offices and employees who work in cold cubicles, while everyone gossips over the proverbial water cooler.

It’s a manager’s responsibility to nip negative work culture in the bud and cultivate a positive environment. Create a comfortable and motivating work environment that isn’t depressing, gray and filled with gossip.

9. Employers Flake on Commitments

When employers flake on their commitments to their employees, it breaks an intrinsic professional trust. Employers may have alluded to or promised raises, better benefits, contributions to causes and more participation in the community and failed to deliver.

For good employees, a company’s word is only as good as its actions. Before those good employees walk, employers must make reparations. Sometimes, that means revisiting company identity and policy to revise and rework core values for inspiration, reevaluating how those are implemented on an inner and outer scale as action.

It costs less for employers to retain good employees, whose hard work is earnest and pays off. Employers must practice a form of preventive medicine in the workplace, keeping lines of communication open with employees, rewarding their contributions, treating them fairly and encouraging their growth on professional and personal levels. After all, happy employees will keep a business thriving.

What are the best ways for employers to retain their best employees? Weigh in the comments, and keep the conversation going by sharing and subscribing to Punched Clocks.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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