People Management
7 min.

Staff Turnover: Why Your Employees Are Leaving You

Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair
Last updated on 6 Dec. 2023
Published on 9 Jun. 2021
Woman leaving a toxic work environment to a better one

The issues of the shortage of labour and employee turnover are closely connected. After all, once an employee is hired, you still have to be able to hang on to him or her.

Table of contents

While some businesses are convinced that they can’t compete in the current job market, others never seem to struggle with recruiting staff, and have an enviable turnover rate. So what do they do differently?

To truly overcome labour shortages and high turnover, you absolutely must consider your employees’ needs and build a strong business culture.

With this mind, here are 7 reasons that (might) explain why your employees are leaving you.

1. You’re Offering Poor Working Conditions

Job seekers are spoiled for choice in almost every field nowadays, which is why many don’t hesitate to make work-life balance a priority.

Good working conditions go beyond salary alone and include:

  • Flexible schedules;
  • Sick leave or personal leave;
  • Time off when children are sick or for appointments;
  • Group insurance; and
  • Sports budgets.

A survey has uncovered a very telling gap: 90% of employers report offering work-family balance measures, while 36% of employees report that there are no such measures at their workplace.

Are you one of those employers who has failed to check with their employees whether the measures you put in place truly meet their needs?

💡 When pondering the working conditions that could be improved at your business, give some real thought to your employees’ needs. Feel free to ask for their opinion, so you can find out what is most important to them.

2. You’re Putting Too Much Pressure on Your Team

Too much pressure from a manager is a great way to boost stress and turnover. Unfortunately, some bosses mistakenly believe that their team’s performance will be proportional to the pressure they put on it. Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite.

A successful work team is in fact a united team made up of employees who feel good and who are a priority for their managers.

💡 As a manager, you set the tone: Incorporate some fun and humour into your relationships with your team.

You are also the best person to create a sense of psychological safety. Be vulnerable and authentic so your coworkers feel like they can do the same.

Admit your mistakes, don’t hesitate to say that you’re struggling with a challenge, and invite your employees to open up, too. This practice can even become a weekly ritual: What were your successes and challenges over the past week?

3. You’re Having a Hard Time Keeping Your Emotions Under Control

I once had a very mercurial boss. He was driven—even controlled—by his emotions. In stressful times, he might call us to an emergency meeting, where the agenda was Change. Everything. Now. Once he had settled down, he would contact us again to apologize and call off the meeting.

This kind of behaviour is very problematic—especially for a manager.

It creates a climate of insecurity within a team, as well as breaking trust and seriously undermining credibility.

This is why it is often rightly said that people who can’t manage themselves are not fit to manage others.

In fact, two thirds of a company’s results have been found to be directly related to the emotional skills of those who run it. No less than two thirds!

Emotional intelligence is what allows us to use our emotions skilfully in the service of our goals.

💡 To keep your emotions from wreaking havoc in your management, get used to taking a step back when you feel an irrational emotion welling up. Take the time to understand it and calm down before speaking to your employees.

4. You Aren’t Listening to Your Employees

A friend who worked in retail once told me that their manager regularly met with his employees on an individual basis. Now that’s a great practice, isn’t it? He took an interest in his employees and the issues they were grappling with… on the face of it, he really seemed to listen.

But each discussion ended with the same words, “I’ll see what I can do”—and nothing ever changed; it would just be business as usual again. Although employees felt they could speak up, they became frustrated when they saw that their opinions were not really taken into account.

Ultimately, one is left to wonder if these individual meetings were nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Wouldn’t you agree?

Employees who feel listened to and whose needs are taken into account feel important to their managers and to their organizations.

💡 Make one-on-one appointments a weekly or monthly ritual. During these meetings, take the time to ask your employees about the issues they are facing, both at home and at work. If you can’t take them up on a request, plainly tell them so. And if you aren’t sure, don’t leave things up in the air; just tell your employee that you will get back to them with an answer… and do it! Another interesting alternative for large teams are satisfaction surveys.

5. You’re Ignoring the Problems

You have a coworker who has a habit of talking negatively about other employees behind their back. She is plainly displaying a negative and arrogant attitude, day in and day out. Everyone hopes someone will meet with her to discuss it, but this never happens.

The manager has misconceptions about conflicts: He believes this situation does not concern him.

Many bosses mistakenly think that they should stay out of conflicts between their employees. However, when a conflict is left to fester, the morale of the entire team is likely to suffer. Team cohesion can crumble, absenteeism can spike, and motivation can plummet.

In this situation, it is up to the manager to take action without delay.

💡 Don’t allow any conflict situation to continue. Feel free to check your employees’ expectations if several people are involved. Wondering how to handle a conflict between two employees? A procedure can help, and outside assistance may be required.

6. You Aren’t Providing Enough Recognition

Recognition in the workplace allows employees to feel that they are valuable to their employer, that they are more than just a number. Receiving recognition is an important motivator that signals to an employee that their successes are not going unnoticed.

Unfortunately, for nearly half of Quebec workers who answered a survey, this need for validation, although widely present, is not being met.

Maybe after being told that recognizing your employees is important, you’ve begun rewarding a particular task with the words, “Well done, keep up the good work!”

It’s great to say these words out loud! Highlighting successes in secret has never done anyone any good.

💡 Very simple thanks and occasional congratulations are important. Also keep in mind the value of more extensive recognition—you can go beyond “good job.”

To give your team greater recognition, make it a habit to note down each time one of your employees does a good job. Then, promptly go see him or her and explain to them why you are satisfied with what they accomplished.

7. You’re a Bad Leader

Not everyone is born a leader, but anyone can become one by working on themselves. As a manager today, what do you really know about your own leadership skills?

Are you so overbearing that your employees have grown terrified of you?

Or conversely, do you have such an unrealistic vision that they don’t take you seriously?

A good leader is someone who can juggle different types of leadership depending on the situation. Some circumstances call for visionary leadership while others require you to be more of a coach. Being able to adapt is just as important as leadership itself… if not even more important.

💡 Learn to leverage the strengths of each type of leadership. When you run into a situation that needs your attention, ask yourself what it requires of you, and tailor your response accordingly.

Flexibility, Consideration and Relationships Are Key

To cope with the labour shortage and, most importantly, retain the valuable employees you have carefully recruited and trained, it can be helpful to take a critical look at your practices.

Work is a big part of our lives; gone are the days when it was just a means of putting bread on the table. Today’s labour market is full of people looking for fulfilment and a balance between their jobs and their personal lives. Be flexible, show your employees that you care about them, and watch them reward you in countless ways.

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