A quick look at why people quit their jobs

The U.S. Dept. of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) historical tracking of job quit rates indicates a steady rise since 2010. Employee turnover is costly because of the costs of recruitment and training, as well as the impact on productivity. So there is a real incentive to reduce turnover, increase retention.

The Gallup Inc. “State of the American Workplace” employee engagement study released in February 2017  concluded that the majority of employees are not engaged and that employee engagement has barely improved over the past several years.

Wikipedia defines an engaged employee as “one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.”  It also is an employee who will be less likely to quit their employment.

According to Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, employee turnover can be boiled down to this:

When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits—nothing.

There has been a great deal written about the best qualities for a manager and how to choose and develop management talent.  But in the case of small businesses and organizations, the manager is often the owner or Executive Director.  In those cases, who monitors the performance of that individual?  If there is a Board of Directors, they would fill this role, if they are engaged to do so. Otherwise, it is up to the business leader to take it upon themselves to assess their effectiveness.  I am guessing that not many do so.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to dive into the current thinking on leadership development and traits of a good manager.  But I think it is crucial to look hard at management’s effect on turnover in your business/organization.  That should be the starting point. As discussed in a previous blog, Maslow’s higher level needs are not satisfied with additional pay, benefits and other security enhancements; self-esteem and self-actualization needs (i.e. higher level needs) can be satisfied by and are dependent on a solid manager/subordinate relationship.

Published by Dave Waldorf

Former Human Resource and legal professional specializing in HR compliance advisory services. Finding my new life in Arizona with my wife of 43 years and our two shelties.

One thought on “A quick look at why people quit their jobs

  1. It doesn’t surprise me that quit rates are up. I think there are a few things happening. In this hypercompetitive market, business leaders turn to cost reduction instead of innovation to remain competitive. The manager is many times just the “pickle-in-the-middle” as they inherit pressure from above to improve metrics. One of the ways is through role compression – reducing head-count and expanding remaining employees duties (usually without a commensurate increase in pay. Needless to say, satisfaction declines as employees justifiably feel taken advantage of. Add one more element – an improving economy with more job opportunities. Now the best employees see their opportunity to increase pay by jumping ship – and, they are very right to do so.
    There is something in this related to the fable of the goose and the golden egg. Squeeze the goose until it dies!
    Nice blog!


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