Nearly 2.5 million Americans quit their jobs each month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this number has held steady for the past few months after a slow but steady increase from a low of 1.7 million quits a month in 2009.
So why are so many Americans – about 30 million per year — packing up and heading for greener pastures? Well, some of them are leaving the workforce altogether, and others are simply willing to take the risk of leaving one job for another, and hopefully better, opportunity. Although we are not yet at the pre-recession level of 3 million quits per month in early 2007, American workers are definitely on the move.
What does this mean if you are a small business owner trying to build your team? How can you keep your best employees from jumping ship?
Reasons employees quit their jobs
According to research by the Gallup organization, which included a meta-analysis of more than 10,000 businesses, most employees quit for just a few reasons. Contrary to what many managers believe, it isn’t always about money. With the philosophy that forewarned is forearmed in mind, here are the top five reasons people quit their jobs.
1. The manager. Gallup research shows that many workers give their notice because of unclear expectations from their supervisor. Others complain of an increased workload. This problem has been especially true as companies have restructured after layoffs and have attempted to get the same amount of work accomplished with fewer people.
Workers also will split if they feel they are being micromanaged. Many employees would rather switch companies than deal with a boss who will not let them complete a task without interfering, for example. On the other hand, some employees dislike being left completely on their own with an absentee boss. These bosses give an assignment, disappear and give no sense of support to the staff.
2. Bad fit. Some workers feel that their job descriptions are not accurate, and that they are not right for the current position. Some of these disgruntled employees thought they would have had more supplies or equipment to complete their tasks and/or more time to do so.
A “bad fit” could also include entry level employees who were “trying on” a career or people who are starting over in a new career only to find out that the job is not right for them. Workers who report a “bad fit” also think their skills are not being used to the best advantage in the current position.
3. Other employees. These workers report dissatisfaction with either the work or the work habits of their colleagues. They mention a lack of workplace ethics and frequently mention gossip as a contributing factor to their giving notice. A related problem is when employees feel an unqualified co-worker gets promoted before they do, and therefore, they do not feel valued or appreciated.
4. Lack of connection. This reason goes hand in hand with the co-worker problem, because both stem from a lack of teamwork. Employees who gave this reason for leaving their jobs say they don’t feel a connection to the organization or its goals.
Results of an exit survey of 7,350 LinkedIn members earlier this year found that the top reason workers left their jobs was because they wanted more opportunities for advancement. Managers should take the time to discuss goals with their individual team members. Discuss where they want to go with their careers and how they can get there in your company. Look for ways to create a culture in your company that involves teamwork.
5. Salary and benefits. Today’s employees expect adequate compensation for their work, sure, but more and more job surveys are reporting that workers value their work-life balance even more. High on the list of benefits are flexible work schedules, such as the possibility for telecommuting at least part of the time, and healthy working conditions.
Keeping good employees is much more important than you might think. One study estimates that replacing an employee can cost a business one-half or more of that person’s annual salary. These costs come from all the time and productivity lost in finding and hiring a replacement. That money does not cover the loss in overall morale of other workers that can follow a departure.
So what’s the answer? Look at these reasons as warning signs. Don’t let an employee’s resignation come as a surprise. Stay engaged with your workers and be flexible.
The standard 9 to 5 work day is rapidly becoming a dinosaur. Millennial workers, for example, see work-life balance as a key issue to job satisfaction. This need for flexibility does not mean they demand to work less; it usually means they would like more options for setting or adjusting their work schedule.
Now that summer is here, summer flex time might be one answer. According to a study last year by Randstad, an HR services and staffing company, one out of seven respondents said they had some sort of flex time at work. Of those respondents, 91 percent said it improved their morale and 80 percent said it increased overall productivity.