The battle for hiring and retaining top talent is a challenging reality for most companies. Add to that aggressive recruitment strategies by established firms, the risk for turnover is ever present by opportunistic employees seeking the greener grass.

A 2018 West Monroe Partners study found that "59 percent [of employees] said they would leave because of a more appealing offer from a new company, not because they're seeking an escape from their current company."

To avoid the time and cost of high employee turnover, employers must be cognizant of their employee's needs, many of which are as simple as more effective communication and positive relationships both with management and with coworkers.

What might cause your employees to leave?

A gargantuan 2019 study by employee engagement platform Peakon drew from over 11 million survey comments to provide employers with the greatest desires and frustrations among employees that might cause them to seek employment elsewhere.

In order to help employers prevent high turnover, The Employee Voice published report provides both regional and industry insight into what employees would most want to change about their place of employment. 

Here are the top three highlights that stood out from Peakon's findings.  

1. Communication has a high impact on employee performance.

In asking, "If you had a magic wand, what's the one thing that you would change about [your organization]", Peakon found that employees would benefit most from a change in their company's communication (or lack thereof).

Of the changes employers can make to improve employee engagement, communication is one of the easiest -- and perhaps one of the most important. A 2019 Dynamic Signal study which surveyed over 1,000 U.S. employees found that nearly two-thirds have considered quitting solely because of a lack of workplace communication. 

Employees feel a stronger sense of belonging when there is transparency between themselves and their organization. That sense of belonging translates to higher engagement, higher productivity, and ultimately higher profitability, and all it requires is that companies put more focus on keeping their employees in the know.

2. Management plays an important role in employee retention.

Of particular importance to employees in terms of communication is the employee-manager relationship. A 2018 Udemy study found that nearly half of employees surveyed had quit because of a bad manager, and almost two-thirds believed their manager lacked proper managerial training.

In order to more closely examine the responsiveness of management to employee feedback, Peakon compared employee feedback rates to responses from management, separated by industry sector.

The results showed that even the most responsive industry sectors -- like Government and Professional Services -- respond only about a third of the time, while the least responsive sectors like Manufacturing and Transportation leave a comment responding to feedback less than 10% of the time.

Acknowledgment by management is crucial and should be a priority to companies looking to retain their employees and avoid the high cost and lost time of higher turnover. Good communication means hiring and training managers to serve as reliable channels between employees and the company. 

3. Workplace environment matters.

Another top-ranked response to the question, "If you had a magic wand, what's the one thing you would change about [your organization]?" doesn't come as a surprise. Peakon's study found that employees would most like to change the office environment in which they work.

Providing an environment conducive to increasing productivity becomes all the more important to retain top talent, including flexible work arrangements with remote work options.

Case in point, a 2018 Upwork Future Workforce Report found that over three-fourths of employees reported that they are more productive when they work from the comfort of their own home, while a Flexjobs survey of over 3,000 employees found that less than 10% of employees prefer the office as a place of work.

All of this recent research is indicative of a preference that transcends generational gaps: employees are more engaged and productive when their workplace is flexible, and most prefer to work out of the office. 

Bottom line: Listen to the voice of the employee.

An employee who feels like their voice is being heard is an employee who won't leave for a competitor, and is more engaged and productive as a result. Taking a more involved approach in listening to employee feedback and taking proper measures to implement whatever changes can be made can improve employee retention and engagement. 

The best part? It's within every company's power to make these changes. From communication to managerial responsiveness to the workplace environment, the changes that employees seek are low-lift but high reward.