The 1 Reason Most People Quit (and 5 Things You Can Do to Prevent It)

According to Gallup, only 32 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged–involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. When you expand the sample worldwide, those numbers drop to 13 percent.

Some organizations may not be overly concerned about participation in employer-sponsored programs or employee enthusiasm towards work, but everyone should be alarmed to hear that 87 percent of employees have commitment issues.

Now, I don’t know the exact cause, but common sense leads me to believe that employees probably feel like their employers aren’t committed to them, either. Although it would be nice if everyone were immediately bought-in after signing their offer letter, the truth is–like in most relationships–trust is earned; it is not a transaction.

If your organization wants to inspire commitment, it’ll have to go first. SAP SuccessFactors ran a study and came away with five ways for employers to prove they’re committed to their employees. Here they are:

1. Make continuous feedback and coaching central to performance management.
I know the conversations feel unnatural and are a little awkward, but I promise, the more you get into the habit of providing real-time feedback, the easier it will become. In my experience, receiving in-the-moment advice was less threatening and more impactful.

To throw a sports analogy at you, imagine if coaches waited until the end of the season to provide instruction to their players. Ridiculous, right? You would have had no way of pivoting and making critical adjustments to help the team. Unfortunately, some organizations do this through the traditional annual performance review. Many companies are now moving toward real-time feedback throughout the year.

Continuous feedback is vital to an employee’s growth. It proves to them that you care about their success and are committed to seeing their development.

2. Create development opportunities for the skills and roles you need.
It can be frustrating to employees when their organizations rely on outside talent to fill senior individual contributor and management positions.

If this is a regular occurrence for your organization, it signals the need to build and improve bench strength. This includes hiring for potential, workforce planning, and grooming employees for leadership roles.

After an employee reaches a point of productivity, your organization should think about next steps. The process doesn’t have to happen immediately–it can take years to fully develop the next generation of leaders. The most important thing is that it starts and that employees know where it’s coming from.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen managers lose great people because they never communicated what their intentions were for them. If you don’t make a point to develop your people, then other companies will.

3. Make succession management a key priority.
I get it. The feelings of complacency can be terrifying. So it makes sense that one of the top reasons consistently listed for employee turnover is a lack of career progression opportunities.

There are multiple occasions however for which promotional opportunities just don’t exist. You definitely don’t want to promote just for the sake of promoting. Top-heavy organizations and ill-equipped managers are an even bigger issue.

Look to lateral moves through other departments, additional training, or mentorship opportunities to help team members grow, learn and progress.

At the end of the day, I don’t believe that employees expect to be promoted every year. They just want to feel like they’re part of the big picture.

4. Align compensation strategies with today’s hyper-competitive market.
Thanks to resources like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, it’s very easy for employees to cross-reference their roles and compensation packages with the market.

To prevent your top performers from jumping ship, make sure they feel fairly compensated based on their level of contribution–not their tenure. Although employees may be brought into your organization at different levels, it’s important to assess their impact and calibrate compensation packages based on performance.

With the current market shortage of top talent, it’s more critical now than ever before to differentiate your high-performers from the rest of the organization and reward them accordingly. If not, feelings of being treated unfairly will drive dedicated employees to look for more equitable environments.

5. Empower employee connection and collaboration.
Spending quality time with your team is one of the best ways to show that you’re dedicated to their success as a manager. This doesn’t mean long sit-down or drawn-out conversations.

Instead, I think what employees really value is shared experiences. When you include your direct reports in projects and choose to collaborate as opposed to work independently, it shows that you’re committed to imparting the wisdom necessary for their success.

There’s no shortcut to employee engagement and commitment. If you want to flip the statistic and inspire commitment, then you’ll have to dedicate yourself to employing processes that make employees a priority.


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