The Pew Research Center found that more Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic downturn than people in the European Union. You can infer that the country had a more challenging time adjusting to the adverse effects of the health crisis. Business owners need to learn to ride the waves of change and challenges if they want their businesses to succeed. To do this, employee retention is critical.

There is no denying that the past few years have been difficult for everyone—from business owners to employees. We have all had our fair share of difficulties and challenges. Still, those at the top need to realize that the employees might have had it much worse no matter the challenges they face. There’s no point in comparing struggles, but those in leadership positions will do well to listen to those at the bottom of the organizational chart.

Business owners and managers should learn from what employees say and don’t say during their exit interviews, especially if they choose to leave. If your company has a high turnover rate and no one seems to want to stay, there must be an internal problem that needs fixing.

Here are some key reasons employees leave their companies and what managers can learn from them.

Mental resignation happens first before the physical one

Before an employee hands in their resignation letter, they first mulled over the decision in their head repeatedly until they concluded that the best thing for them is to leave. We live in a time of so much uncertainty. Suppose a person voluntarily leaves their job during a global health and financial crisis. In that case, it must mean the comfort of being unemployed for a time is so much more enticing than staying in the company.

What you can do:

  1. Take a look at your company culture and the employees’ experience with management and co-workers.
  2. Check if your company is welcoming, warm, and inclusive, or if it’s cold, hostile, and high-stress.
  3. Check in on your remaining employees.
  4. Ask them how they’re doing, and get their suggestions on how to improve your work culture and what practices you need to maintain. You can learn from employees who have chosen to leave and those who decided to stay.

Money motivates only to a point

When a vital team member—someone who delivers excellent results—decides to leave, it can be devastating. You never know if you will ever be able to find someone just as good or better. If there is one thing you can learn from talented people leaving companies, money can motivate only to a point. Sure, perks and benefits can help make them stay. You can offer to increase their salary or perhaps help them with their mortgage loan payments, and they might choose to stay a second or a third time. However, they might not choose to remain a fourth time if their previous problems with the company still exist.

What you can do:

Ask this employee to be honest about their reasons for leaving. Listen to them intently. If you find that their problems within the organization are valid and something you can fix, then fix it. This employee won’t be the first to leave, and they won’t be the last if things don’t change.

Man with a resignation letter

Career progression is one of their biggest priorities

If your company offers no room for growth, you already have one of your biggest walls to employee retention. Here’s the thing: Every job plateaus. If your employees don’t have a clear career path, that leaves the door wide open for them to look for greener pastures anywhere else. This is especially true for team members who have spent years and years toiling in the company only to find no reward to show for it.

What you can do:

It will be difficult, but don’t open a regular job that has no clear progression. Say you need certain professionals to do specific tasks within the company but the position won’t necessarily go anywhere. Just make it a contractual job opportunity so that both sides can manage expectations. If you find that the person is too good to let go of, then absorb them and make sure they have a place in the company that will allow them to climb the ladder.

There are so many things to learn from employees that leave our companies. Keep your heart and communication lines open. Fight the urge to be defensive. And, most importantly, listen with an open mind. Do all these, and you will be giving your business more opportunities to improve.

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