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Understanding the Causes of Employee Turnover

Understanding the Causes of Employee Turnover
Understanding the Causes of Employee Turnover

Understanding the Causes of Employee Turnover

Employee turnover can be a real headache for any company.

Losing valuable team members is deflating and punctures a big hole in morale, but it can also be costly. Hiring, training, and bringing new employees up-to-speed can put a significant dent in resources. That’s why it’s important to figure out why employees are leaving in the first place. There are many reasons for employee turnover, and it’s crucial to identify the root causes so you can find ways to fix them.

Here we’ll take a closer look at the most common reasons employees leave and what you can do to keep them around.

1. Lack of purpose

People inherently want to feel a sense of purpose and meaning in what they do. If they lack that, they may start to feel disengaged, unmotivated, and unfulfilled in their role. This can lead to decreased productivity, lower job satisfaction, and ultimately a higher likelihood of seeking employment elsewhere.

How to fix it: Create a strong shared mission so your people know what they are working towards, feel as though they have a stake in the game, and are energized to make it happen. Start by working with your team to create a compelling Reason for Being (or Purpose Statement) that articulates why you get out of bed every day to do the work you do. Then establish clear Core Values to serve as your true north on this mission. Your values should lay out the rules of the game for success in your organization, so everyone knows which behaviors are expected and which won’t be tolerated.

5 Reasons for High Turnover Rates and Tips for Prevention

2. Lack of Development

To keep employees happy and interested in their work, they need to consistently feel like they are learning and growing their skills over time. This can be tough for managers because every employee is different. They each have their own goals, strengths, and weaknesses to work with, which means that managers need to spend time thinking about how to develop each individual and building actionable plans to make it happen.

How to fix it: Start by using a validated talent assessment to understand the unique strengths and weaknesses of each individual as they relate to their job. This will tell you what they need from their manager to maximize their strengths, excel in the job, and grow in their career. Then create a list of questions you can ask to better understand how they want to be managed. We use a tool called the Growth Guide, but you can also design your own list of questions to uncover what gives them energy and what depletes them, what goals they are working toward and what actions they are taking to achieve them, how they communicate best and how they prefer to receive recognition. Armed with the information gleaned from both of these instruments, identify three specific strategies you will use to develop each person you manage and put them on your calendar so they don’t slip through the cracks.

3. Lack of Psychological Safety

In order for teams to function effectively, it’s essential for team members to feel at ease and confident enough to be genuine and express their thoughts and opinions openly. When employees are comfortable enough to share their unfiltered ideas, ask questions, raise concerns, and admit

mistakes without feeling ashamed or afraid of retribution, they can fully engage and collaborate with others. This leads to meaningful contributions, increased expertise, and increased teamwork toward common goals.

How to fix it: Increase the level of Psychological Safety on your team by listening more and talking less. Also, take time to share your own failures and disappointments, reminding your team that you, too, are human. Finally, ask for help when you need it and freely give help to others (without judgment) when asked.

How Creating Psychological Safety Helps Leaders Make Better Business Decisions

4. Lack of Recognition

People want to feel valued and appreciated, and for many, recognition is a powerful motivator. It boosts engagement, increases productivity, creates stronger feelings of company loyalty, and improves employee retention. It’s important to remember that everyone likes to be appreciated differently. Some people might enjoy receiving a shout-out in front of their peers, while others would rather have a more private pat on the back.

How to fix it: Consider how you can give your employees an immediate raise in praise. Begin by considering what each person is doing right. Then, determine the best way to provide meaningful recognition to each one. Consider phone calls, in-person conversations, emails, texts, and handwritten notes mailed to their home. Regardless of your chosen method, make sure you are authentic, sharing the specific behaviors you have seen and why you value them.


Employee turnover can be a complex issue, with many factors contributing to an employee’s decision to leave a company. While it can be challenging to identify the root causes and address each one, it is also worth the effort. Ultimately, those proactive measures will improve employee retention, increase employee engagement, and positively impact your bottom line.

Infographic: Top 15 Reasons Your Employees Stay

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About Author

Beth Sunshine
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