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Employee turnover is a bigger pain for companies today than it’s ever been. We can all speculate why many skilled, devoted workers leave their jobs. Some of the reasons, however, may surprise you. And, for the most part, they’re highly preventable.

Let’s be real: In reality, most employees won’t tell you what’s really driving them out the door. They might share a secondary reason, like the classic “new opportunity” explanation, but rarely do they touch on what triggered and fueled their desire to seek a way out, perhaps months or years before pulling the plug.

Leigh Branham, author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave,” calls these triggers the “seven deadly sins leading to turnover and apathy” in a piece he wrote for the American Society of Association Executives earlier this year. These sins, he explains, cause employees to lose trust, hope, worth, and competence – and bid adieu to their employer as a result.

In this post, we’ll review the first three of those triggers.

1. The job or workplace was not as advertised or expected.

A whopping 35% of American workers quit within six months, and more than 6 in 10 turnovers begin with some kind of post-hire shock, Branham writes.

“Why? Many workers have an unrealistic expectation about the job or workplace, or in some cases are deliberately misled during the interview process,” he explains.

What to do about it? “Find a way to give job candidates a realistic preview.” Ask deep questions and clarify their expectations of your organization, their role and potential growth before you bring them on board.

2. There’s a mismatch between the person and the job.

Mismatches are obvious after performance and engagement have derailed, but how do hiring managers get it so wrong in the first place? Branham shares a few ways:

  • “The need to hire quickly leads to the hiring of warm bodies just to fill slots.”
  • Managers value the candidate’s skills over his or her talent and suitability for a certain role.
  • Managers think anyone can do low-level jobs well.
  • Managers think they can transform the wrong people into the right people with training.

By contrast, sought-after employers take hiring very seriously, Branham points out. “If they cannot find the right person, they postpone hiring. They analyze the talents and personality factors that separate the best workers from the average ones.”

3. There’s little coaching and feedback.

If you follow this blog regularly, you know this is a theme we cover often. According to Branham, more than 60% of workers complain they don’t get enough feedback.

Part of the problem is that many managers have had no adequate role model. They just don’t know any better. They’ve never learned to give feedback effectively, and may actually fear the process a great deal. Plus, many limit their feedback to a once-a-year event.

Branham likens annual performance reviews to a basketball coach telling his players at the beginning of the season: “Go out, play 30 games, and at the end of the season I’ll evaluate your performance and tell you how to improve for the following season.”

Instead, Branham advises a “Get-Give-Merge-Go” model:

“Get the employee’s perspective first, then give your own, then merge the two into an agreement on next steps.”

Whatever model you choose, ensure feedback is ongoing and personalized, with buy-in and crystal-clear understanding from both manager and employee on what the finish line looks like, and how to get there.

Chew on these insights for a bit, and we’ll return with Branham’s take on the remaining four reasons employees leave.

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