Employee turnover – Why may your employees leave?

Employee turnover – Why may your employees leave?

You will have heard the age old saying – ‘Your employees are your company’s greatest asset’. That is why employers are often left scratching their heads wondering what happened when a strong performing employee resigns without warning.

While there are a number of reasons why an employee may seek to pursue alternative employment, when an employee elects to depart your business voluntarily it can be a symptom of bigger issues. In particular, employee turnover or a reduction in an employee’s productivity can often indicate that there are opportunities for improving manager skills and organisational culture. The efforts put in by managers within your organisation can play a vital role in either optimising or eliminating an employee’s desire to remain with the organisation.  In many instances, an employee will not seek to leave the organisation, rather they leave the manager.

Key factors which can result in reduced employee productivity or can influence an employee’s decision to leave the organisation altogether include:

Lack of Adequate Supervision

While most employees do require regular feedback to understand the company’s perception of the work they are performing, some actions undertaken by managers which can increase frustrations can include:

·       Lack of consistency – Everchanging expectations and inconsistent processes

·       Lack of transparency about work – Not providing all of the detail for the job to be a success

·       Micromanaging work – Not allowing a level of autonomy

·       Not giving enough work to ensure employees are well utilised – Mismanaging workloads can create a level of disinterest

·       Having a biased approach during supervision – Treating employees differently

Lack of Effective Communication

Communication is critical in almost every business process within an organisation. If information is not provided in an appropriate manner to the intended recipients, it is likely that productivity will fail.

A lack of communication often results from different managers providing different instructions/expectations, employees not interacting with peers, disorganised team meetings, and instructions not being provided to employees in an effective way. It is essential that a business ensures that communication channels are effective and timely.

Lack of the Bigger Picture

Employees need to understand the bigger picture while performing their role. This ensures an understanding of the importance and value of their contribution in obtaining the company’s overall goals and objectives. It further provides a sense of direction and purpose in their everyday work.

The failure to communicate the bigger picture can provide little to no context in why you want your employees to do what they do and can reduce their motivation to work at their highest level of productivity.

Unprofessional Management of Concerns

Discussions regarding errors made or performance concerns should be undertaken privately and in both a professional and respectful manner. Employees should be given an opportunity to discuss and provide their response, and to be mentored by their manager. Employee performance discussions should not be raised in front of their colleagues, nor should an employee be reprimanded in front of others.

It is important that managers consider their own behaviours when raising and discussing concerns with an employee. If the manager is angry or upset, they should take a moment, remove any emotions and address the issues with their employee when they are capable of holding a calm and rational discussion.

Not listening

One of the biggest mistakes a manager can make and one that is likely to quickly result in an employee not feeling valued is to not listen.

Listening is not limited to just listening to an employee’s ideas and suggestions when provided, rather it is about listening when they provide constructive feedback about the workplace and individual management styles and making an effort to take on board their feedback as a way to make improvements.

While employees may not be in a senior position themselves or may not have a financial stake in the business, they are the ones who are most often on the front line, “doing the do” and performing core duties on a daily basis. As such, they will most likely have valuable firsthand knowledge and experience with identifying potential workplace issues and areas of concern. Listening to their employees may save employers time, energy, money while also having a positive impact on the extent to which your employees feel valued.

Asking questions of an employee as a token gesture to appear that you really are interested in their response or concerns will usually become evident to the employee and will impact greatly on their willingness to provide input in future if they feel that the level of interest taken is not genuine.

Being Inflexible

Employees should be confident and comfortable to approach their manager at all times to discuss any matter that may be impacting their ability to perform their role. Being inflexible with time or lacking a willingness to openly listen can create a barrier between an employee and their manager and may create a decrease in trust.

Lack of Consistency

If employees are being required to work in many different directions with ever changing expectations or inconsistent processes, it can become challenging for them to consistently obtain the expected and required outcomes. Management should seek to ensure that operational processes remain consistent where possible to minimise the likelihood of employees facing frequently changing rules and expectations. Workplace environments that are inconsistent can result in increased confusion and frustration for employees, minimising the likelihood of being able to maintain a productive environment.

Lack of mental wellness

No matter how experienced, skilled or qualified an employee is, they will not give their most productive performance if their mentally wellness is impacted. It is imperative that managers check in with their employees regularly to understand if there are any impacts to their mental wellness, such as overwork or working excessive hours, stress or personal factors that they may not wish to discuss. Ignoring ‘flags’ that indicate an employee may be mentally unwell can have an adverse effect on their productivity and potentially their retention.

Lack of Appreciation

Providing gifts, a flashy coffee machine, free lunches, or pay rises will go only some way to showing an employee they are valued and appreciated. Rewards and gifts in isolation will not ensure that your employees remain productive or engaged. In many instances, the provision of more simple but regular recognition for the effort and work being applied will be more greatly appreciated.


Managers who micromanage and insist that their team run every small task by them is not effective and is not a good use of time. Such management styles can impact adversely on employee confidence and overall morale. In comparison, providing autonomy to employees to manage their projects and tasks where practicable will help establish an environment of productivity and trust.

It’s important that as an employer and manager, if you want your organisation to be successful, you ensure that you show your employees that they are valued and give them reasons to stay, not reasons to become less productive and worse, leave.

A popular quote for managers to live by: Never push loyal employees to the point where they no longer care!

If you require advice regarding staff retention, or should you require support regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at [email protected] or on 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts are meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as Government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.


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