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3 Not-So-Obvious Reasons Why Employees Leave Companies

If you’ve ever had one of your top performing employees leave your company, it might have felt similar to a spouse leaving a relationship. What you thought could last forever wasn’t to be, and it’s easy to assume that person simply wasn’t appreciative of what they had. It’s important to avoid this line of thought and instead focus on what the company can do better in order to retain employees.

When you’re evaluating problems related to company culture or employee engagement, try to detach yourself from any preconceived notions you have about your business. Ask yourself whether you would stay at the company for more than a year if you were just starting out today.

The onboarding process may have changed significantly since you began, so consider the roadblocks your new employees face on a daily basis. These are the top reasons why employees leave.

1. Work-Life Balance

In today’s world, business owners must take their employees’ work-life balance seriously. Overworking employees and providing minimal flexibility is a recipe for stacks of two week notices. The reality is that if you don’t offer a decent work-life balance for your team members, someone else will.

Employers that have success recruiting and retaining employees offer things like the option to work from home on occasion, flexible work hours and more than two weeks of vacation time. These companies understand that while they may appear to be losing productivity by giving employees an extra week of vacation, happy employees are more productive, and it costs far less than continually hiring and training new people.

2. Low Engagement

Even if an employee is always busy, they may not feel fulfilled by the work they’re doing. It is essential to have regular conversations with your employees to get a better understanding of their goals and desires. From there, you can align their work, skills and career goals to help them grow professionally. These duties should also align with the overall mission and vision of the company, so the employee understands that their work has a larger purpose.

Another reason employees often feel unengaged is because they are not properly recognized for their accomplishments. Even if a team member is good at what he or she does, it may begin to feel tedious if nobody appreciates their contributions to the company. Dish out sincere praise whenever possible to let your employees know they are valued.

Consider giving out rewards like concert tickets or gift cards for finishing a particularly challenging project or hitting quarterly goals. These purchases are an investment that will pay off in the long run.

3. Insufficient Feedback

While rewarding good work is important, constructive feedback is equally valuable to employees. A team member may be doing something wrong for months without knowing it, only to be reprimanded later on by a manager who catches their mistake. Unless someone sat down with that employee at some point to address and correct his or her behavior, some of the responsibility lies with management.

When giving feedback to employees, remember that a little bit of kindness goes a long way. There are ways to tell someone they are doing something wrong without coming off as accusatory or rude, and most people appreciate tactful constructive feedback. Most people want to improve their skill sets and become better employees, but they need the right guidance to make it happen. Set the stage right from the beginning for all new hires and current employees.   Schedule regular meetings to check in with employees and discuss strengths and areas for improvement.  Make sure you have a plan to act on some of the feedback that you receive from the employees.  People want to be sure they were heard!

How to Move Forward

Companies that have recently lost a top-performing employee should view the experience as a learning opportunity. Nearly all businesses have growing pains, and low employee retention is one of the most common issues for business owners. Keeping talent around isn’t always easy, but it’s worth making a priority.

If you’re looking for new ways to ensure your team members are happy, consider revamping your training programs. Learn more about onboarding improvements in my “Why Effective Training in Workplaces Matters” blog post!

If a top performer does give notice, make sure you gather their performance data so you can replicate that type of hire again. Contact Patty Darke directly at or 612.866.0692 for assistance with this process.


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