In a 2022 survey, Human Resource professionals listed what they thought were the top three reasons for employee turnover. They chose inadequate pay (74%), lack of career advancement and development (61%), and lack of workplace flexibility (43%). In short, they thought that turnover was mainly caused by not paying enough, not creating opportunities for bigger roles and more skills, and not providing the right options for remote or hybrid work.
It's tempting to point to one main reason — or even three big reasons — why employees leave. The surveyed HR professionals responded based on their experiences in their own workplaces, and they responded with the limited answers they were allowed to choose. A deeper look shows how many factors go into employees decisions to stay or go.
As far back as 2000, workplace research has shown that turnover is driven by employees' feelings toward their job, their workplace, and the people they work with. These feelings can be broken down to dozens of measures: whether employees like their job duties, whether they feel support from their workplace, whether they feel a relationship a relationship with leadership, whether they like and have a connection to coworkers, whether they feel motivated by a sense of purpose, whether they think they have an ability to grow professionally, whether they like their overall compensation, and many others. In other words, the causes of turnover are "complex" meaning "a whole made up of many complicated or related parts."
Considered as a whole, this complex group of feelings could answer the question "are employees happy to be working here?" At Amazing Workplace, we call the whole group of feelings "Employee Happiness."
Employee feelings in each area of Employee Happiness contribute to the likelihood that employees will choose to stay. Of course, each workplace has its own strengths and challenges, so the major causes of turnover will vary significantly from one workplace to another. Still, some causes are commonly seen and have a larger share of the impact on turnover. There are some simple and powerful strategies for addressing these major causes.
One of the most fundamental aspects of developing long term commitment to a workplace is feeling safe and respected. Employees in workplaces that focus on leading with safety and respect show a 27% advantage in retention over those that don't. Employees who feel safe and respected are more receptive to guidance from leadership and more interested in helping the workplace improve. Employees who do not feel this way are operating based on fear that they could lose their job or be punished. Fear does not promote employees staying a long time; it actually causes employees to look around for a different, safer job.
Setting clear expectations at work is a quiet but essential piece of keeping employees. Employees feelings are motivated in large part by whether the workplace, the work, and the culture fit what they have been told to expect. When any of these things do not meet their expectations, they feel a sense of unfairness or even betrayal.
Job stress is a top contributor to employees deciding to leave, and it can also cause prolonged periods of distracted work, burnout, or quiet-quitting (intentionally working less). In some workplaces, job stress can become the top driver of turnover. This happens when the workplace ignores the causes of stress, thinking that stress is the price of high productivity or the norm for the industry they work in. These are misconceptions, and there are always ways to improve work stress.
One reason employees choose to stay is because they feel sincerely connected to their coworkers and teammates. Similarly, employees are much more likely to think about leaving if they feel unconnected or distant from others at work. Nearly any workplace can drive down turnover by strengthening team bonds.
Amazing Workplace provides the world's first Employee Happiness Survey and a platform designed and built to help workplaces improve turnover, productivity, and company performance. If you'd like to learn more about us, or just trade happy workplace stories, start here or email us at email@example.com.