Some of your best employees are secretly looking for another job. How do I know this? Because I'm helping them.
As a career coach, I spend my days helping people make career changes, which means I'm verrrrry familiar with the reasons why people are moving on to greener pastures. Here's why your best employees are quitting and what you can do to avoid losing more of them:
1. The hiring process was misleading.
The job looked amazing on paper, and I was psyched about it when we talked about it in the job interview, but the actual job is nothing like they advertised. I didn't sign up for this.
If the job is mostly data entry, don't focus on the little bit that is creative work. If the job is 90% admin, say so. Mostly report writing? Say so. Has a crazy travel schedule? Say so.
Don't be misleading when you woo job candidates. They'll leave you faster than a jilted lover once the jig is up, and crappy retention costs you time and money.
2. They're drowning in unreasonable amounts of work.
I'm up for a challenge, but the amount of work I'm expected to do is straight-up impossible. I bring work home every evening and on weekends. I'm this close to just saying f*ck it and quitting.
An ideal workload is one that is challenging, lets people use their skills, and is achievable. Just don't forget the achievable part. You don't want to push people past a threshold of what's reasonable.
Not sure why your people are burning out? Ask them. Have them take you through their workload, including the nitty gritty administrative stuff, which always takes way more time than you think it does. It may be time to redistribute some work or make an additional hire.
3. They feel unappreciated.
I'm a hard worker. I don't even mind staying late. But would it kill him to say thank you?! Why do I even bother.
But you show your appreciation in the form of a big fat paycheck, right? Shouldn't that be enough? It isn't. Those two little words - thank you - mean a lot to people. When you take the time to say thank you, you're saying, I see you. I notice all of the good work you're putting in, and I appreciate it.
People just want to feel seen and understood and appreciated. I know you're busy and you probably don't get the appreciation you deserve either, but carve out some time to express genuine thanks for your team and you'll find it pays in spades.
4. You're too rigid.
She's fine with me working for an extra four hours into the night, but if I want to come in an hour late the next day it's like the Spanish freaking inquisition.
Your people don't mind working hard for you. What they do mind is doing so and then bumping up against rigid policies and practices, all for the sake of "optics".
Unnecessary rules drive people crazy. Don't let them be the reason you lose your best employees. Offer a little flexibility in good faith. It goes a long way in terms of relationship-building. Plus, flexibility actually makes your employees more productive.
5. They can't see the forest.
I need to know how my work is connected to the grander vision of what we do here. Seeing the trees isn't enough for me. I need to see the forest.
The people who work for you want to know why their work matters. Help them connect the dots. Of course you can see how it's all connected because you're in the meetings and strategy sessions behind the scenes. But they're not. What might be obvious to you isn't even on their radar.
Helping someone connect their piece of the puzzle to the larger vision helps them attach meaning to what they do, and meaning is one of the biggest motivators out there.
6. You're stealing credit for their work (or one of your colleagues is).
I'm totally a team player, but if so-and-so takes credit for my work one more time I'm seriously going to lose it.
This. Drives. People. Nuts. A brilliant idea is flat-out stolen and claimed as belonging to someone else. Or a massive project is credited to a whole team when really it was a solo project undertaken by one of your shining stars.
People want to be recognized for their work. That means giving credit when credit is due - maybe mentioning their names to the bigwigs; maybe giving them some public recognition; maybe letting them present to the VPs themselves. Recognition takes many forms.
Fail to do that and some of your shining stars will stop making such an effort. They'll withhold their ideas and efforts or they'll quit because, hey, they never get their props, anyway.