Why Good Employees Quit

This article is a complete home run. We would add Mary’s first reason by stating that in a lower paying job where there is zero hope for a raise no matter how hard you work, that leaves ho hope and no incentive to work well. We have all seen too many employers who pay minimum wage and are constantly pounding the desk to work harder but make it clear that no matter how good you get only a minimum wage increase in the law will get you another dime.

Via Mary Davis:

Sure, there are many reasons why people quit, such as: employee mis-match, work/life balance, co-worker conflicts, relocation, family matters, lack of good communication, micro-managers, etc. I could go on and on but here are my top four reasons why good employees leave the workplace:

1. Poor reward system. It’s not always about having a big paycheck (although it doesn’t hurt either!). Rewarding an employee can be shown in many ways, such as corporate recognition both internally and externally (company website or press release), an additional paid mini-vacation, an opportunity to take the lead on a new project, a promotion, a donation in their name to a charity they support or the most popular form of reward, a bump in pay or an unexpected bonus. While these represent some of the ways an employer can reward workers, they don’t work without one key element; communication. What money represents to one employee may be of no concern to another. The key here is to find out what your employee’s value most and work from there.

2. Management. You know the saying: “People don’t leave companies, they leave their managers”. There is truth to this! Here’s my reasoning. When there is work to be done, its management’s duty to enforce, engage, and often times implement reward systems to keep employees satisfied and loyal. Sure, the supervisor, middle manager or team leader may implement recognition on a small scale for workers who have reached goals or helped the team in some way, but that doesn’t replace the recognition and reward employees need from upper management to stay committed.

Not everyone is skilled enough to manage processes or lead people. Just because someone is good at what they do does not mean they will be a great manager, and that’s perfectly OK! When people who are not fit to lead are put into positions of leadership it can create a catastrophic circumstance in the workplace leading to high turnover and low employee morale. So please, stop slapping “Manager” on every good worker’s name and put people in those positions only if they have the characteristics necessary to influence workers to execute the company vision and those willing to work together to get the job done.

3. Hiring/Promotions. When good workers see people who do not contribute as much as they do or they see schmoozers who do little but socialize a lot land positions they don’t deserve, it’s much like a slap in the face. Especially when those workers are busting their butts, not taking vacation, rallying the team and exceeding expectations the last thing they want to see is some Joe Schmo just waltz in and take a senior position, one they are clearly not qualified to do. You have to expect good employees will leave if you decide to hire your best friends’ cousin who has no idea what the heck they are doing, and then you have the audacity to put them in a leadership position over experienced workers. Come on! Hiring and promoting for favoritism is a major way to alienate good workers.

4. Too much work! The moment employers see employees who have good work ethic or are great in performing or rallying a team of people they begin to slap on more projects, more responsibility to those who they believe can handle it. And maybe good workers can handle more work but it becomes a problem when they begin to feel that they can’t escape from work because of the amount of responsibility and attention they receive from management. Being an excellent worker can be a blessing and a curse. It’s great for a boss to recognize employees are good, but the reward for that shouldn’t always be to pour on the workload. Since good employees tend to have a higher workload, it’s important to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed causing them to burn out.

Ultimately the culture of an organization determines the scope of employee retention efforts which requires strategic decision making and planning. But to get good employees to stay, it’s simple; ask them what it will take. If you see someone doing great work, recognize it and reward it but don’t’ forget to find out how you can empower them to continuously deliver.

Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC, a consultancy specializing in employee engagement, leadership coaching, career development and personal branding. Follow Mary’s blog or follow her on twitter @MVDavids.

About Chuck Norton

Political issue strategist and communications professional. I write about politics, education, economics, morality and philosophy.
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One Response to Why Good Employees Quit

  1. This article speaks to me. I have had more jobs than I can remember and have seen more jobs than I can remember while doing security at various places.

    From the employees perspective there are two kinds of companies. (1)Those that consider you an asset to be developed, trained, educated and up lifted vs. (2) those who consider you an expense to be cut as they can hire someone else cheaper etc. They consider you expendable.

    If people want higher wages they need to have in demand skills and knowledge or find an employer that is willing to train you for a high paying career. Mike Rowe has a foundation that does this he has proven that their are employers that need good employees and are willing to train you for a high paying career with their company.


    I have quit and been fired from more jobs than I can even remember. I have recently finished 3 years of college with the purpose of gathering up marketable skills. In my experience too many employers do not listen to their employees. All good generals know you have to listen to the troops in the trenches. Employees get frustrated doing things the same old inefficient ways and management can’t be bothered to listen to their frustrations. I have coined this the arrogance of management. They think they know everything and don’t need to learn or be flexible or accept any kind of new input. The result is that they eventually get out performed by their competition. I always ask at an interview is what educational or training opportunities are there, or are there opportunities for advancement. If there response is none I know I am facing an employer that considers you an expense to be cut.

    I have many skills and trades: security / Loss prevention, welding, black-smithing, IT, personal training, fork lift driving, public speaking etc.

    I start a new job Monday driving a forklift with a company that pays based on skills and encourages cross training on different jobs. I did ask them about training and promotional opportunities. The work place is changing you need to have in demand skills if you want any respect from an employer at all, or you can work for the best employer of all, yourself.

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