Why are so many employees planning to leave their employers?

HR professionals world-wide all agree that the cost of recruitment in both monetary and “time” terms is very high, without even considering the current challenge of attracting talent in the first place. While there will always be companies that need to recruit to meet expansion plans, others are having to cope with the fallout caused by failing to motivate and retain existing employees. Many studies show that over 70% of employees are already considering leaving their current employer. Given most people’s animosity towards change, it seems surprising that so many employees are prepared to undergo such a major step, so what could be causing this trend and how can it be reversed?

What are the main root causes of employee dissatisfaction?

Unfortunately, first place is frequently awarded to management, who fails to communicate and motivate adequately, who – in some cases – makes no effort to get to know employees better (sometimes don’t even know their names!) and generally do not impart an impression of valuing their staff. According to a Forbes study , “employees who feel valued are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered and to perform better”, ergo if this is not the case, they will be more likely to look elsewhere.

Many employees also seek a meaning to their work, this can be underlined during regular feedback sessions and also by focussing on career and training planning. According to Gallup , this is of particular importance to millennials (87%), “who believe that life and work should be worthwhile and have meaning. They want to learn and grow.” Thus, the combination of a caring company culture and a long-term policy of investing in competence planning could constitute a means of nurturing employee loyalty, with the added benefit of making the brand attractive to external candidates. How many companies regularly poll their employees about their net promoter score, only to be surprised when this falls below their expectations? The mere fact that they need to ask the question probably shows that there is an issue!

Which factors enhance employee satisfaction?

Given the vast scope of the job market, it is not easy to make generalisations, even though in each case human beings are in the focus of the question. Despite the monetary aspect, employee engagement is essentially a question of emotional commitment, as in theory every employee could choose to work elsewhere. During the recruitment process, each person asks themselves a variety of questions and builds up their expectations based on the job advert, the interview and the information they receive during the onboarding period. As they become familiar with their new task, they continue to scan the situation to reassure themselves that it matches these expectations and their personal values. If the onboarding process is well managed, any incoherencies can be ironed out and the employee will complete a successful trial period, but what happens next? Can the HR department map out the employee’s future path and reassure them that their tasks and competencies will evolve in the course of the years? If not, it may not be long until the employee starts to peruse job adverts again.

How can you create a sense of belonging?

If there is a strong work culture, which includes and encourages personal interactions between colleagues, such as regular informal coffee breaks, celebrating birthdays, afterwork outings, then a sense of being part of a team will inevitably grow. This can be enhanced by both internal and external coaching and mentoring networks designed to encourage employees to expand their horizons and set themselves new goals. In many cases, middle managers will have better insights into what can motivate their teams, because of their ongoing interaction in the field. Some employees may thrive on a higher degree of flexibility, for example to help them cope with childcare issues, others may relish new challenges and training opportunities.

If there is a strong sense of trust among all staff, then rumours and misinformation can be avoided, as transparent communication is the order of the day and ensures a healthy working climate. Therefore, high engagement levels mean there will be a lower rate of accidents and absenteeism, furthermore, engaged employees perform better, which in turn can ensure higher profit margins and greater job security. A genuinely win-win situation for all parties.

As J. Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott Corporation once said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself”.

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