Why Do Employees Stray?

Five reasons that motivate employees to look for a new position
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.“ For employees, the temptation to move on can be great. Some surveys estimate the average employee tenure is about 5 years. With employee recruitment costs estimated as high as 35% of the first year’s salary, smart employers are always looking for ways to keep staff from looking over the proverbial fence.

To do that, it’s important to recognize the things that motivate employees to stray. When your top earners, staff stars, and even reliable seasoned employees start to look elsewhere, it’s important to look internally for a cause. Be on the lookout for these top reasons employees move on.

Company Stability
A recent survey showed that more than compensation itself, staffers are looking for a company that is stable. While the last decade’s employees were looking for “what’s new and cool,” a downturned economy has “upturned” the value of the reliable company.

Employees want to work for a firm that has a long-term plan for sustainable growth and reliability on a day-to-day basis. While most employers have a strategic plan, few translate that information to the rank and file. Letting your staff know that you plan to grow, and to take them with you, is important to help them feel that their future is secure.

We’ve all asked staff “to do more with less” of late. And employees have been willing to accept wage freezes and reduced hours to keep their jobs in a rough economy. But as sales increase, and production gears back up, make sure you’re readjusting back to keep staff happy.

If you’ve had to consolidate work, is it time to rehire and redistribute workloads? As you look at evaluations and annual increases, are you bringing staff back to market wage? Periodically scan the marketplace: keep an eye on what the competition is willing to pay – and ask if you’re willing to lose good employees for the difference in cost.

Everyone appreciates being appreciated. The old “your paycheck is your thank you” attitude just won’t keep employees loyal any more. Employees want to be recognized for their contribution and engaged in contributing more. Employee recognition can be as simple as telling people how valued they are, or as complex as rewards systems and gifts. But whether you go big or small, recognition itself is key. Don’t have a formal recognition plan in place? You need only look for opportunities to compliment, comment and cheer. They’re easily found.

Work/Life Balance
It’s not just a “mommy” issue any more. All employees are looking for a balance between their life at home and at work. Whether it’s flexible scheduling, working a reliable shift or having the opportunity to take time off without having to “fake” an illness, employees want to keep equilibrium between the time (and energy) they spend at work and home.

Look at your scheduling, overtime and hours, and consider being more flexible, if possible. The response from employees will be positive, and your workplace will benefit overall.

Horrible bosses may be the stuff of amusing films and entertaining websites, but no good employee will tolerate one for long. Top talent will soon tire of the tyrant and move on. What you’ll be left with are mediocre employees who can’t find a job elsewhere, in a department that should be thriving. You may think that a valued employee is happy, but social media like LinkedIn has made almost everyone approachable by recruiting firms.

If you have a department with higher turnover than the rest of the company, you’re probably harboring a bad boss. It’s time to address the problem: call former employees, if necessary, to find out what the issues were and deal with the root cause. Managing a bad manager can be difficult, but ignoring one is costly – to your reputation as well as your bottom line.

Whether you’re looking to retain top performers, keep your solid-as-a-rock reliable staff, or hoping new hires will become long-termers, it’s important to recognize that Human Capital is one of your biggest investments. It needs regular maintenance and attention, just as all resources do.