Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why Do Good Employees Leave?

As a former business owner and current CFO, and as a speaker at events and conferences, I often encounter small and medium business owners and management teams who lament how difficult it can be to find and retain good employees. As I have listened to their questions and asked questions of my own, I have noticed certain themes. Why am I talking about it here? Because high employee turnover negatively impacts your business. It leads to customer turnover, lost sales, service disruptions, and many other hidden costs.

So why do good employees leave? Here are the top reasons I've deduced from my experience and the experience of myriad others:

  1. Lack of support. This is a biggie. Employees in small and medium businesses are often told what to do but not given any real parameters, support, or training. They end up feeling like they are treading water. For many, this causes significant stress. And then if the owner or manager accuses them of not doing the task(s) well but then, again, don't provide parameters and support, the issue is compounded and circular. This happens VERY often with sales people but it also occurs in other functional roles.
  2. No recognition. Employees like to feel their work is useful and rewarding. When no one seems to care about what the employee is doing - not the boss(es), not the customers, not the coworkers - then employee morale plummets and dissatisfaction arises.
  3. Lack of clear goals. People drawn to small and medium businesses often like a bit of the uncertainty that typically goes with these sized businesses. The broad job descriptions help people to feel challenged. The higher level of responsibility help people to feel needed. However too much uncertainty can create anxiety. What is expected of the company? What is expected of the employee?
  4. Low pay and lack of benefits. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
You know I'm not one to just identify problems with no solutions. I believe you spend 20% of the time identifying and quantifying the problem, and the remaining 80% of the time identifying and quantifying the solution. You feel better and you are much more productive! So, check back in a couple of days for some of the solutions I believe will help you retain employees.

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