More than a quarter of employees will quit their jobs this year to work at a different organization. Of those, more than three out of four (77%) could have been prevented.
Those are the findings of a recent report by the Work Institute that was based on 234,000 exit interviews. Researchers also identified the most common reasons why employees quit and made recommendations for how to reduce preventable turnover.
According to the report, the top 10 categories of reasons for why people quit are:
- Career development (21%)
- Work-life balance, incl. travel and scheduling preferences (13%)
- Manager behavior (11%)
- Well-being, incl. physical, emotional, or family-related issues (9%)
- Compensation & benefits (9%)
- Relocation (9%)
- Job characteristics (8%)
- Involuntary (7%)
- Retirement (7%)
- Work environment (6%)
Contrary to popular stereotypes, younger generations aren’t very different than their predecessors when it comes to quitting. Instead, people tend to quit for reasons that make sense for the phase of life they’re in at the time, the researchers suggest.
Among younger workers (age 18-24), the most common reason for quitting is returning to school. For workers in the middle of their careers (age 25-54), the most common reasons for leaving were type of work, work-life balance, and manager behavior. For workers age 55 and older, the most common reason for leaving is retirement, but well-being and manager behavior were also common explanations.
“It is more important to understand the career stage reasons that cause turnover rather than assume generational differences cause turnover,” the researchers write.
Why is it so important to understand and reduce turnover? Replacing employees is expensive, and a high degree of “churn” can bring down morale and performance, according to the report. On average, each lost employee costs an organization roughly 33% of that employee’s base pay, the report estimates.
“Consider this,” the researchers write, “for every three workers who leave your company, for the same expense, you could likely have one additional full-time employee. How would that affect work-life balance and scheduling?”
As a first step to reduce preventable turnover, leaders should take a look at their onboarding process, suggests Amy Hirsch Robinson, a principal with Interchange Consulting Group. First-year employees account for 40% of all turnover, according to the Work Institute report.
A successful onboarding process should show three things to new employees, according to Gallup research cited by Robinson: what makes the organization unique, how their roles contribute to the overall goals, and a first-hand experience of the organization’s mission and values.
The best way to accomplish this is a two-way conversation, rather than the typical orientation’s one-sided lecturing, Robinson says. Of course, managers should explain the basics of the organization and the role, but they should also ask new employees about their previous experiences. Then, discuss how the employee’s previous skill sets can help him or her succeed in the role and contribute to the organization’s mission.
Managers should also help new employees understand the future opportunities for growth at the organization. For example, you can let new employees know about the paths their predecessors took, how they grew in the current role, and what kinds of roles they went on to (Tarallo, SHRM site, 9/17; Work Institute report, accessed 10/5).