Why Employees Don’t Want to Work and Leave the Company

Employee turnover is a big and still growing problem. ⅓ of employees planning to quit their job in the next 12 months, according to a study conducted in 2018. Considering that the total cost of replacing the employee ranges from tens of thousands up to even twice the value of employees annual salary, employee turnover is followed by enormous costs.

If you want to know:

  • The signs that an employee wants to leave the company
  • Why it’s important to retain some employees, and for which you should fight
  • The reasons why he/she wants to leave
  • What can you do to make them stay
  • And if there is nothing you can do, how to part ways peacefully

employeesHow can you tell that an employee wants to leave you?

There are various articles on the web, saying that if your employee is looking sharp and is dressed nicely to work it means that he or she is looking for a new job but it may also arise from such banal reasons like starting to date someone new or just wanting to feel better about him/herself.

There are a few signs, and even if they aren’t 100% foolproof, they might help you notice that your employee might be considering changing jobs.


  • Disengagement

70% of employees report being disengaged at work. It’s a huge problem, especially that it has an impact on work satisfaction and job performance. According to a Gallup study conducted in 2016, an engaged employee is defined as “one who is involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work”. Being passive in meetings, stop offering suggestions and advice, showing little or no interest in work they are doing, showing up late or taking the unusual amount of days off and not being eager to work on long-term projects – these are all the signs that your employee is disengaged, and perhaps is looking for a new job.

  • Underperformance

If you’re seeing one of your employee’s productivity decreasing chronically and/or significantly, it may be a sign that he isn’t satisfied with the job, is burned out and overworked or that he just doesn’t care anymore. In each of these cases, it is important to talk and ask the employee for the reason for such a drop.

  • An employee has had a major change in life

It is both an indicator and often a reason for changing jobs. If you know that something has recently changed in your employee’s day-to-day life, it may be reasonable to talk to them and ask if they expect something new from their work considering their life change.


Why it’s important to retain employees and should you try to retain them all?

in the officeReplacing employees is expensive, and most often it’s simply cheaper to try harder to retain your workers, especially when the employee you’re trying to retain is highly specialized and hard to replace. Moreover, high employee turnover rate is something that you can’t hide – neither from your customers, nor current and potential workers.

It will be more difficult to find a replacement when you have a bad rep when it comes to employment. In addition, your customers may follow your former employees that have found occupation at your competitors’, resulting in your competition directly benefiting from your loss. Also, it’s hard to focus on larger goals, when your managers have to retrain your new employees over and over again, at the same time trying to keep other workers engaged in their jobs. And on top of all that comes the workplace atmosphere and relations with co-workers that are very difficult to build when employees turnover often, resulting in increased stress levels and decreased productivity.

Equally important to being aware of the reasons for retaining your employees, is being aware of which employees to retain. Sometimes turnover is inevitable and normal in a healthy organization. If the employee is easily replaceable and you’d have to put more effort and resources into retaining him than letting him go, just part ways.


Why does your employee want to leave?

in the officeYou certainly know this saying: “Employees don’t quit the job, they quit the boss”. There are multiple reasons for your workers’ will to leave your company. Even though they seem very diverse, they usually fall into one of these categories:

Work culture and environment, and management:

If your employee feels bad in the workplace, it’s highly probable that he’s looking for a new job. But why wouldn’t he feel good? Perhaps he doesn’t get along with co-workers and/or the manager. Also, it may be that he doesn’t see the bigger picture – doesn’t know what does his work contribute to or doesn’t see the strategy behind his actions.

Another reason to leave, connected with the management and work culture is not receiving feedback. As a result, the employee doesn’t know how he’s performing at work and doesn’t know what can he improve. Moreover, lack or deficiency of self-development opportunities is one of the most common reasons to quit jobs. Furthermore, employees who feel that they aren’t recognized and appreciated enough, often feel replaceable and therefore don’t feel bad about jumping ship, and research is confirming this: 76% of employees who don’t feel valued at work are seeking for other jobs.

The employee isn’t fit for the job

It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a place you just feel you don’t belong to, and the same goes with your employees – perhaps they’ve expected something different from the position they’ve applied for, or they have recently got a promotion that requires skills, that your worker didn’t have the chance to develop on his previous position. Imagine that your IT guy recently advanced to the IT manager. He probably has never managed any team before and was usually working by himself.  It’s not hard to imagine that he may feel lost and poorly fit for the position.

Money & other benefits

Sometimes it’s just about the money. It’s important to notice, that often employees don’t ask for a raise. They are often thinking about their salary as if it’s something permanent and unchangeable. If they don’t feel exceptionally good about the company or you as an employer, they might leave when the opportunity arises. 

However, thinking that the worker is leaving because of money is very often wrong – with 89% of bosses wrongly believing their employees quit, because they want more money – and that’s often not the case.

Burnout and stress

Stressed and burned out employees are more likely to leave, and the problem is real. Almost a quarter of full-time employees reported feeling burned out always or very often. Another 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes. Tight deadlines, infeasible workloads lack of support and work-life imbalance are the basic drivers for burnout.

Personal reasons

The most unpredictable and at the same time inevitable reasons are the big changes in your employee’s life. Getting married, becoming a parent or buying a home are the things that may push your employees to seek a new job that offers new possibilities. For example, enables him working remotely, or simply is located closer to their new place.


What can you do to retain your employees?

in the officeThere is no quick fix for the employee turnover issue. Every tip or advice comes down to change of mindset, so your employees will see that you care about them. To show them that, you should talk, one on one with each of them, and accept the feedback they provide. In addition, you should ensure that they receive feedback as well. Tell your workers what they should improve and what they’re doing well. Offer them opportunities to develop their skills, and even if it may lead to them outgrowing your business and leave. Maybe they’ll leave a positive review about you as an employer or recommend working in your company to someone who may be a good fit for your organization.

You also should try to solve the problem from a different perspective. Hire the right people and prepare an employee onboarding process, to introduce them to the company smoothly. Having a clear mission and even clearer goals will help your employees to find meaning in their job.

Last, but not least is training your managers. Very often people that are becoming managers don’t have the skills to manage teams. This is especially true in highly specialized environments such as software development or engineering. That doesn’t mean that the IT guy mentioned somewhere above will be a bad manager. Leaders are made, not born. You are the one to prepare your soon-to-be manager, for the good of your company.

👉 Read also our article about career goals examples

There’s no way I can keep my employee – how to part ways?

in the officeSometimes it happens. It might be your fault because the employee didn’t feel valued. Sometimes it’s because of downsizing or just changes in the everyday life of the employee. Moreover, you can’t do anything about it. But you can leave a good impression.

First of all, don’t avoid the situation. Even the best employer eventually will have to face employee resignation. Grab the bull by the horns instead. Face the feedback from your employee and don’t be afraid to provide constructive feedback as well.

You should also remember about notifying the employee’s team members of him quitting the job. Be friendly and kind because parting ways with workers happens in every company. Don’t forget to wish your former employee luck and success in their career.

All in all

Employee turnover is a big issue, for which, unfortunately, often responsible are employers and managers. Even if that’s sad, once you recognize the reasons behind the high employee turnover rate in your organization, you’ll be able to address and solve the problem.


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Why Employees Don’t Want to Work and Leave the Company

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