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Why Employees Leave, Why They Stay, and What you Can Do About It

We’ve talked about the “turnover tsunami” in previous blogs, and as people continue to reevaluate their careers it’s a good idea to look at why employees leave. Even though the pandemic has changed many things, these reasons have been established long before. Examining them is a great way to begin the process of improving your business’ retention numbers.

Why They Leave

There are many reasons an employee may cite for leaving. It’s a great idea to conduct exit interviews during your off-boarding process to stay informed about your company’s weak spots. People who are on their way out are free to speak candidly and are usually happy to have their input heard. When an employee leaves, their reasons generally fall under one of their categories:

  • Employee dissatisfaction: An employee who feels overworked and unsupported is definitely going to have their eye on the door. Many people have also reported feeling stalled at their jobs and don’t see any career advancement opportunities. This causes them to look elsewhere for those opportunities. They could also be dissatisfied with management, the company’s culture, their work-life balance, or the lack of recognition for their efforts. They could also have concerns about the company’s direction or financial health.
  • Better alternatives: If your employee can make more money doing the same job at another company, what’s stopping them? Competitive benefits packages can also convince your employees to make the switch. If another company is offering the remedies to the dissatisfactions listed above, it makes sense why someone would seek employment there.
  • A planned change: Sometimes life events happen. Having a baby, moving, taking care of a sick loved one, and other family events take priority; sometimes causing a restructuring of their professional life.
  • A negative experience: The employee could be fed up with any number of negative experiences. This can range from unfair treatment to harassment.

Why They Stay

According to SHRM's Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Doors of Opportunity are Open research report, employees identified these five factors as the leading contributors to job satisfaction:

  1. Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels.
  2. Compensation/pay.
  3. Trust between employees and senior management.
  4. Job security.
  5. Opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work.

People stay at rewarding, fulfilling jobs where they are treated fairly and valued for their ideas and opinions. We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, so it needs to be a positive part of one’s life.

Strategies to Increase Retention

  • Accurate Recruiting:  Realistically present the job description to your applicants. If they step into a job that’s not what they thought it was, they are very likely to leave.
  • Proper On-Boarding:  Make sure new employees are set up for success. Introduce them to people, tell them about the company’s history, and check in with them to make sure they’re adjusting well.
  • Career Advancement: Provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills and advance themselves in the company. Leadership programs are a great way to motivate your best employees to climb the ladder.
  • Compensation:  Keep an eye on the job market and make sure you’re paying your employees what they’re worth. It’s also helpful to use a cost-of-living calculator to see what a living wage is in your area.
  • Recognition:  No one likes a thankless job. Have your HR team keep track of work anniversaries, promotions, sales goals, certifications, or anything else that deserves a round of applause. Show your employees that you appreciate the effort they’re putting into making your company great.
  • Fair Treatment:  Make sure there are ways for workers to speak up when they feel things are not fair. Address workplace drama head-on instead of hoping it goes away. This only leads to resentment and will come back later.
  • Engagement:  Build a community at your company through events, volunteer opportunities, classes, and more. This will help build company pride and help employees feel more connected.


For as many reasons as employees leave, there are reasons for them to stay. By examining your former employees’ reasons for leaving, you can build a strategy to make your company a fantastic one to work for.



Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.


Robert Half Talent Solutions - 14 Effective Employee Retention Strategies

SHRM - Managing for Employee Retention