Identifying the Top Reasons for Employee Turnover

As we head into 2022 and the Great Resignation continues, many companies are looking to identify the top reasons for employee turnover. Answering this question and understanding how attrition rates impact a company are important pieces to the puzzle of employee engagement programs. Reasons for turnover and its impact are top of mind for many companies as they start building out their surveys and engagement priorities. 

When it comes to employee turnover, there are many general and possible causes. In this blog post we’ll identify some of the most common reasons, but it’s important for companies to investigate their circumstances specifically so that they know what’s causing turnover in their organization. Leadership should always work with HR and employee engagement teams so that causes are clear, improvement metrics are properly targeted, and nothing is left to speculation or assumption. 

What are some of the top reasons for employee turnover?

The covid-19 pandemic and Great Resignation have thrown a curveball when it comes to employee turnover and workers leaving their jobs. One reason workers would leave in the past was poor compensation and benefits, but during the Great Resignation, we’ve seen workers leave highly lucrative positions, even in circumstances where they don’t have another job lined up. 

These trends mean that while some of the old causes of turnover persist, the pandemic has created a few new causes that organizations should be prepared to face and solve. Below are some of these causes for turnover. Remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and what’s happening at your company will be best identified through employee surveying and understanding your data with a trained and qualified engagement specialist. 

1. Lifestyle or career change

For some workers, the coronavirus pandemic prompted them to rethink how they want to live, work, and what type of importance their career should have on their lives. Workers in this category may have been leaving their career entirely in search for something new, they may have been taking a sabbatical or retiring early, or they decided that their current company didn’t allow for the flexibility they wanted to have in their lives. 

This need for flexibility could range anywhere from parents hoping to spend more time working from home to help school and raise children, to workers who want travel and city-hopping to be a part of their lifestyle. It’s possible that as we get closer to life as it was before the pandemic, some of these workers will re-integrate or start back where they left off in their careers during the pandemic. 

2. Overwhelmed or underwhelmed by work 

It’s no secret that burnout is one of the top reasons for employee turnover, with it playing an especially important role in certain industries (like healthcare during the pandemic). Though burnout is a threat for losing workers, it’s important to remember that its opposite is also a problem—being underwhelmed by work. 

As organizations grow and scale, it’s possible that they become too large to allow some workers the projects, resources, and company influence that was possible before the company grew. Workers in this category may leave their jobs because they want to go to a business where they can have more impact and face less of hierarchy during decision making. 

It’s important to remember that workers need the right amount of stimulation. If they’re over stimulated and have too much on their plate, they’re likely to burn out. But having less to do or less organizational impact can also cause a worker to be underwhelmed and look for a new job. 

3. A mis-match with company culture 

The first 3-6 months at a company is a very important time in the employee lifecycle. It’s during this window of time that workers are onboarded, first impressions are made, and they’re feelings start to be cemented. 

During this phase workers want to build relationships, establish trust, and feel integrated into an organization that matches their values and career needs. The 3-6 month window is the period of time where the honeymoon of getting a new job starts to fade and actual impressions of an organization are being made. Turnover is likely during this time, so it’s important to make sure that workers feel aligned with culture and their teams. This is especially something to focus on as more and more workers are onboarded remotely. 

4. Poor compensation, benefits, or perks 

Worker expectation toward their compensation package has changed a lot during the pandemic, adding it to the list of top reasons for employee turnover. Faced with the uncertainty of the economy and additional expenses due to inflation or changing lifestyle needs like at-home child care, workers want to feel confident that their organizations will compensate them and give them resources where needed. Many companies have stepped up and given their workers stipends to build at-home offices or funds for additional support. 

Employees are also more likely to now expect stock or equity in companies, and they’ll be especially loyal to organizations that help with student loans or payments toward additional education or training. Not every company will have the same expectation from workers in this category, but a mis-match between expectations and the actual compensation package can cause employees to head someplace where they feel like they’re better taken care of. 

5. No feedback or recognition 

This category can tie into other related causes for turnover, like working for a bad manager or a mis-match with company culture. It’s an important cause to focus on because it gets to part of the core of what many workers (who are human after all) want out of their work. They want purpose, a sense of belonging, acknowledgment, and to feel seen. 

When workers aren’t recognized in their organization, it’s likely that they’ll start to lose motivation, wonder what impact they’re having, and possibly start feeling burned out or like they’re facing a mis-match in culture. Understanding how to properly recognize workers is especially important now that so many people are remote and the spontaneous in-office encounters for recognition aren’t as readily available. 

We encourage managers and companies to use frequent syncs or big events to recognize their workers. This includes weekly team meetings or company all-hands, but group messaging platforms and emails or newsletters can also be a way to highlight weekly wins or big achievements. Reminding workers that they’re valued will keep them engaged, and it’ll also let the rest of the team and organization know the ways people are succeeding. 

Is there more when it comes to employee turnover? 

Like we mentioned, there can be many causes for worker attrition, including those that are specific to certain industries and lines of work. What we hoped to share here are some of the top reasons for employee turnover, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. If you want a more specific look at your company, what’s causing workers to leave, or possible areas that could cause attrition in the future, we suggest you work with an employee engagement specialist. They can help map out your engagement program and surveys so that they’re equipped to get all the right data that you need. 

Our Workify blog and Modern People Leader Podcast will also keep you up to date on the latest trends and topics that are impacting turnover and employee engagement. Join us in conversation on the podcast, and make sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter so that you’re up to date on what industry trends are driving conversation and focus at Workify. 

Are you looking to revamp your engagement programs or surveys? 

Workify is here to help. Whether you’re building your first employee engagement program or revamping surveys, connect with Workify today to get started. Our tools and programs are backed by industrial and organizational (IO) psychologists, and our dashboards and features will keep your company looped in on the right metrics that you should be tracking. 

We’ve helped startups and established corporations improve their engagement strategies, and we’re here to share those same valuable insights with you and your HR teams.