10 Reasons Your Best Employees Might Leave (and What You Can Do About It)

Do people keep leaving your business, inexplicably? Do employees stick around for relatively short periods of time before moving on to pastures new? Not sure exactly what's going wrong? This blog's for you.

June 20, 2023

Money isn’t everything, to everyone.

Yes - if you are successful, you will earn more – but for the modern day career-minded employee, that’s no longer enough.

The majority of ultra-driven, creative and successful people out there want to be happy, to enjoy their careers and to earn a reasonable salary in the process.

And the onus is now on you, the Manager, to ensure that this is available at your company – in order to attract and retain best employees.

So what could be making your best staff leave? It could be…

Reason 1: Bad Management

This is a fairly obvious one but a lot of managers still don’t like to admit that they are the problem.

Sure, most employees will try to cope with a bad boss for a while, but eventually they will seek pastures new, especially if they can get similar remuneration elsewhere.

Recruiter Pro Tip Being a ‘bad boss’ isn’t just about losing your temper, being rude and/or aggressive – it can mean a number of things… • Micromanagement. • Negativity. • Favouritism. • Leniency. • Ignorance. …are all classic warning signs. Click here to find out more about how NOT to be a bad boss.

Now, let’s assume that the ‘bad manager/s’ scaring off your employees isn’t actually you.

You’ll probably already know that there are issues because you’ll hear whispers and/or complaints, you’ll sense the unhappiness within the team, you’ll notice that they work ridiculous hours or that they shoot off as soon as it turns 5pm etc. etc.

There are always warning signs!

But it’s important to give that person the benefit of the doubt and gather as much information and insight as you can, before jumping to any conclusions and taking any action.

Then, come up with a plan - how can you support that manager to improve and grow?

  • Are there any training courses they could go on? Or could they shadow another senior?
  • Do they just need a kick up the bum? Sometimes, people don’t even realise they are doing something wrong or that others are unhappy, until they’re told so.
  • Do you need to consider disciplinary procedures (especially relevant for bully bosses)?

It may help to start a discussion with the whole team on how the entire management team can improve the business, rather than pinpointing one manager in particular.

If nothing changes, people continue to leave and it’s clear that leadership is still the issue, you may have to come to a decision on whether that particular employee/s is right for your business.

Click here to read more about dealing with underperformers.

Reason 2: Co-workers

There are two main reasons why an employee might leave due to their colleagues…

1. Clashes in personality.

Sometimes, people just don’t get on! It’s inevitable.

Your job as a manager is to try and nurture a team who a) get on well or b) are willing to put their differences aside, for the sake of a happy working environment.

This includes hiring for cultural fit as well as skills/knowledge, organising events that nurture good working relationships within the team, resolving any conflicts that arise and promoting a happy, supportive culture for everyone.

No one should ever feel ostracised and alone at work…

For more tips on fostering teamwork at your company, click here.

2. Office bullying.

You’d think that, after getting to a certain age and point in your career, ‘bullying’ wouldn’t be an issue anymore – but unfortunately, it is.

In fact, a recent Acas study showed that it's actually on the rise - they received over 20,000 calls with relation to workplace bullying in the last year alone.

"Our analysis reveals that bullying is on the rise in Britain and it is more likely to be found in organisations that have poor workplace climates where this type of behaviour can become institutionalised." Sir Brendan Barber

We could write an entire blog post on how to deal with this kind of situation – but the headline is this: do NOT tolerate it.

There are too many managers out there who would turn a blind eye. Not necessarily through malice, but because they see the whole thing as petty and childish and not worth the hassle – the people on the receiving end would probably disagree.

A good manager will notice the cliques and the bullies and iron the issues out early on - seriously considering whether they want people like this to work in their business anyway.

Click here for some more tips on how to deal with such behaviour in the workplace - or here if you, yourself are a victim of bullying.

Reason 3: Lack of opportunities

Your highest-calibre, driven employees will want some sort of career path laid out in front of them - it’s as simple as that.

Easier said than done right? If there are no opportunities, then how can you offer them?

You can handle this problem three ways really…

You can suck it up and deal with the fact that your brightest sparks will probably stick around for the short term and then move on.

You can hire people who are specifically looking for a job to settle down into and who aren’t interested in climbing the ladder.

Or you can think outside the box and look for different ways to offer development to your top performers…

  • Are there any training opportunities you could fund for them?
  • Can you create a new job role/title for them?
  • Can you merge their job role with another one?

Just make sure you don’t promise something that you can’t actually fulfill.

Reason 4: Lack of a challenge

Similarly, your highest-calibre employees will enjoy challenging themselves at work.

Boredom will crush creativity, motivation and generally make them feel like their real talent is being wasted.

Again, are there any further training opportunities you could offer? Perhaps they could take on some extra duties or managerial tasks?

Holding your employees back will hold your company back too.

Reason 5: False promises

I mentioned the importance of following through with our promises.

Unfortunately, there are managers out there who would prefer to string staff along, delaying the inevitable and assuring them that ‘things will get better’ – often failing to deliver.

Once you’ve broken that promise you will start to lose your team’s trust and honestly, that’s when you’ll start to see them drop like flies.

Reason 6: Lack of independence

No one likes to be micro-managed.

You should hire people who will bring great ideas, insights and skills to the table and then let them do their job – why did you hire them in the first place?

Instead, take a leaf out of Lee Iacocca's book...

"I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way."

Giving your team independence will keep them positively engaged with your company – they’ll feel like they have some control, that they’re directly affecting the business and that you trust their decisions and opinions.

They’re much more likely to care what happens if they’re the ones making the decisions.

Reason 7: Meaningfulness/Purpose

Possibly the most tough problem to try and tackle is a lack of enthusiasm towards your company mission.

The truth is; most people genuinely want to know that they’re making a difference to a company, the world and/or that they’re helping other people.

If they don’t know what the grander purpose is (other than ‘to make money’) – they’re not going to care about your business any more than they care about the others.

They could simply move somewhere else, for the same money.

You need to try and build some sort of meaning behind your company mission that ethically resonates with your employees and makes them genuinely love and feel proud to be a part of it.

A few great examples of this are…
  • Life Is Good:Spreading the power of optimism. Life is not perfect. Life is not easy. Life is good.”
  • Twitter: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.”
  • Warby Parker: Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.

It takes time to come up with an inspiring mission statement that your employees will love, but once you’ve integrated it into your business, you’ll see a real improvement in employee engagement levels and general output.

So - how does your business (positively) affect other people’s lives?

Reason 8: Lack of recognition

This is a biggie.

Do you appreciate your staff? Do they know it?

One of the most common reasons you’ll lose staff is because they feel undervalued and taken for granted. If they can get the recognition they seek (and deserve) elsewhere, what’s going to keep hanging around?

Don’t ever underestimate the power of a simple, heartfelt thank you.

Click here to check out 50 fun ways you could be showing gratitude to your staff!

Reason 9: Work-life balance

There really is no reason why you should be overworking your staff members…

  • You will physically wear them down and make them ill (more sick days to deal with).
  • You will mentally drain them so that their output suffers anyway.
  • They will either leave, or burn out.

And even if they don’t – do you really feel good about treating your staff this way?

Reason 10: Lack of communication

And finally, that golden oldie that plagues many a business ‘lack of communication.’

If you want to build a loyal team who love your company, you need be honest, open and share both the highs and lows of the business with them.

They want to feel involved and like part of a family because at the end of the day, the success of the business directly affects them too.

You’re much more likely to have everyone pulling in the same direction if they know what direction that is or needs to be.

To find out more about the importance of internal communication - click here.

Are you losing staff left, right and centre?

There’s no point sticking your head in the sand or blaming other people and/or things…

It’s time to take control and work proactively towards boosting employee engagement, happiness and the general culture in your office.

If you’d like some more advice on this, click here to check out our staff retention resources.

Or click here to sign up to this blog and receive a quick weekly update with our latest post.

Good luck.

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.