Company loyalty has become a thing of the past. In today’s corporate markets, people seem to change jobs as often as they change socks. It used to be common for an employee to stay with the same company for a decade, now people think that if they have remained at the same company for a year it shows stability.

How did the corporate world transform from a place where employees dedicated their lives to a handful of companies into a mad rush where candidates are constantly on the lookout for their next position? There are several components that make up the answer to that question. With the invention of cell phones and the internet, the lines of direct communication have become wide open, so finding a new position can be done with a few strokes of the keyboard. Advancements in technology are also reshaping the scene much faster than in the past, creating a steady flow of new jobs along with the removal of old ones. Finally, employees in today’s ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ world, seem more determined than ever to climb the corporate ladder.

With the average length of time an employee holds a position being just above three years, employers and hiring authorities can feel like they are fighting a losing battle. In my experience, there are three prominent causes for why candidates begin seeking a new position. If these issues can be dealt with properly and eliminated from your company, then you stand a much better chance of retaining your employees.

Broken Trust

The first reason, the one which I have found to be the most common, is a lack of trust and/or respect. Trust is a hard thing to earn but can be broken in a moment. When the promises a company has made to their employees are not fulfilled it casts a lot of doubt on what the company’s intentions are and whether they will keep future promises. This leads to a downward spiral in employee morale, which is all but impossible to reverse.

It doesn’t matter what kind of money or benefits they are offered, employees who experience broken trust are unlikely to continue in their position if another one can be found. Some may remain for a while with the hope that the company will be more honest in the future, but even they will think twice before trusting the words of their boss and will always be on the lookout for hidden agendas.

This kind of breach in trust is one of the ways an employee can lose respect for their employer. Some of the other reasons might include a weak business model, unprofessional behavior from management and co-workers, poor public relations, or lack of procedure. While each of these alone can be a struggle to overcome, a company that has several is looking at a serious crisis.

For example, if the company’s business model is failing, why would employees feel good about continuing to use the same procedures? On the flip side, if there are no set procedures, then knowing how to handle certain situations turns into a guessing game, where employees question what to do and have no set standard to follow. This can lead to them doubting themselves and those around them.

In addition, if those in the company acts unprofessionally and customer service is overlooked, the organization will begin to have a bad name. Bad reputations last forever. Not many good candidates want to work for a company with a poor standing. Some will even strike it from their resumes and pretend their time there never happened.

Another element to the trust and respect aspect of why people leave companies is advancement. When an employee in one of the situations mentioned above starts to consider how their career can grow, they will not see raises or promotions in their future and will begin to look elsewhere.

Bad Company Culture

The second most common reason I have observed as to why employees leave their positions is because of bad company culture. This is the inverse of the prior situations, where the external perception of the company was a poor one. Here, the company could be said to be rotten from the inside out.

With most people spending 40+ hours at work every week, it’s not a surprise that employees want to be in an environment where they are comfortable. Even if the work itself isn’t enjoyable, feeling like you have a team beside you can make all the difference.

There are two main reasons company culture sulfurs. The first is when management is bad. Some bosses care very little for their employees and this can have demoralizing results. No one wants to work for a company where they are not valued. Humans are not machines and when they are not treated with respect, they begin to grow resentful.

Other things management might do that would decrease morale include canceling vacations, dropping benefits, not allowing breaks, or being overly critical. While these actions might seem like good motivators, they tend to lower production. Happy employees are much more likely to be productive and exhibit a good work ethic.

Not all the responsibility is on management, as one of the largest things that can negatively affect company culture is the employees themselves. It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole barrel. Gossip is one of the worst habits any employee can have. It leads to nothing but complaining, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. Equally as bad are those who need to put others down in order to make themselves look better. They don’t care about other’s feelings; their only interest is elevating themselves. General thoughtlessness can be an issue too. If someone is noisy, they can make it hard for others to concentrate or if they don’t clean up after themselves that means someone else has to.

If there is someone at your company who has any of these habits, you may want to take a careful look at your company culture. What’s happening might not be evident at first, since a lot of time these employees are bullies on the playground, but teacher’s pets in the classroom.

Lack of Benefits

The final reason I will address as to why employees leave their jobs is a lack of benefits. This can include money. People tend to think wanting more money is the main reason candidates move to a new job and, while it is a factor, changing jobs can be stressful, plus there’s always the risk that it won’t be a good fit. So, unless it’s a lot more money, employees tend to stick with the tried and true.

That being said, sometimes money or other benefits are the reason employees leave. For the most part, people need to do what is best for themselves and their families. That means having a job that pays a living wage, provides insurance, and offers vacation time, along with other benefits.  

As an employer, my advice to you is that when the time comes, and an employee is leaving, have a quick sit down with them and find out what is really causing them to leave. It can usually be related to one of the three reasons listed above. While it is too late to win back that employee, you might be able to discover what measures can be taken to keep others from following them out the door.

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