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Why Do Employees Leave?

by Karla Robertson

Never before has attracting and maintaining employees with the “right stuff” been more in demand. The urgency to consistently hit the bottom-line every quarter requires more mental agility, leadership and core talent across a company’s enterprise. Clearly stated: you need to find talented people and put them in the right roles. Sometimes, companies only get the first half of that right.

It’s not enough to offer a great salary with the cost of benefits shifting more to the employee to bear the brunt of those costs. How then do you attract and—most importantly—retain the best and the brightest?

Get the fit right. I am not talking only about skills. This is about attitude, habits of behavior relative to the role they are taking, and values. Putting a good person in the wrong role is painful for them and ultimately for you and your business.

Make sure you hire people with a clear sense of right and wrong. In order to do that, you have to be clear about what that looks like in your organization. You want to “walk the talk” as well. There is nothing that makes employees disengage and head for the door faster than words on the wall that no one, including senior leadership, lives up to.

Invest in your people. Everyone needs development. The other top reason talent bolts for the door is a lack of development and opportunity to grow and be challenged. Make it part of your culture to develop their minds and their careers. It wouldn’t hurt to have some fun along the way. You must be ready to properly onboard new employees and make it easy for them to be successful. These days the emerging workforce wants to learn and grow and scale their careers and they don’t want to wait 10 years to do it. They barely want to wait two. This is an investment you can’t afford to keep avoiding. Do it and do it right.

Create an environment where challenging the status quo is desired. Our current world landscape demands that leaders be agile-minded to adapt and flow with emerging trends and demands that are in constant flux. Creating an operating internal environment of adaptable-thinking employees will allow you to flex to the shifting dynamics of our technology-driven and connected marketplace.

Get crystal clear about what makes your top performers in each role tick. Let me be clear, the top five reasons employees wash out in the first 12-18 months is because, for the most part, there isn’t a fit from a behavioral standpoint. This has nothing to do with their skill and everything to do with their values, attitude, behaviors and culture orientation. A study by author Mark Murphy showed the top five reasons new hires failed based on three years of research:

• Lack of coachability (26 percent)—ability to accept and implement feedback from others
• Lack of emotional intelligence (23 percent)—ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and accurately assess others’ emotions
• Lack of motivation (17 percent)—drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel in the job
• Lack of temperament (15 percent)—attitude and personality suited to the particular job and work environment
• Lack of technical competence (11 percent)—functional or technical skills required to do the job

Thinking differently about why you have talent that stays and talent that goes will help you find the pathway to creating a culture that attracts and retains. … By the way, do this effectively and there’s another group you will attract and retain: clients.

Employees can sniff out the truth regarding those values on the walls in no time and then they plummet into the trough of disillusionment. Leaders must make sure that those they put in place to manage and lead the operating staff are also living those values and treating their team members in a way that inspires them to want to do their best every day.

Karla Robertson is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker. Visit for more information

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 6, Issue 3 (March, 2016).
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