Why Workers Leave – And What You Can Do About It

The best leaders not only build strong teams, but understand how to keep them in place. Sometimes, proactive steps can be taken to prevent a valuable worker who is on the verge of leaving from doing so.

How does one know when an employee is considering leaving? Steve Goldstein, president of Engaged Leadership Advisors, recently shared five signs that an employee is ready to quit in an Inc. magazine article. These include losing focus on long-term goals, only accomplishing the bare minimum and a lack of drive to improve.

“Think of your employees as assets, not costs. You or one of your leaders hired every one of them, spent time and money trained them and have been leading them for however long each person has been with the company. Take the offense – rather than becoming angry when someone quits, stay engaged and look for signs that something may be wrong – and fix it,” Goldstein states.

Don’t Let It Get That Far

It’s well and good to watch for signs that a valued employee may be leaving, but by the time those signs show up, it’s often too late to turn things around. The smart strategy, says Carly Guthrie, is to understand why workers leave and to do everything in your power to create an environment that keeps them engaged and happy. In an interview with First Round Review, Guthrie, a San Francisco-based human resources professional and consultant, offers these tips for creating just such a workplace:

Respect their time. Realize that people have lives outside of work. People do better work when they are allowed an outside life. This often comes down to simple planning. Avoid things like employee “happy hours” at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, delaying employees’ own weekend, or early-bird meetings at 7:30 on a Monday morning.

Build a community with a purpose. “I’ve seen environments where people are so engaged in the product and with one another that they really do feel like they’re part of something bigger and important,” Guthrie says. It starts with hiring for personality fit as well as skill set. It’s smart to leave the “brilliant jerks” for some other company to deal with.

Structure a mentorship program that people really want. “You definitely don’t want to just introduce your new hire to someone random and say, ‘Here’s your buddy,’ but that happens all the time,” Guthrie says. “It’s unclear what that even means or what you should do. Instead, look for skills that are outside of the new person’s wheelhouse that you know they want to learn. Find someone who has those skills to pair them with and explain the connection.”