Group of disgruntled employees

Have you ever had that moment as an employee where you knew you had to start looking for another job? Maybe it was the first leap into a career change, or it resulted from a leader or team member conflict, as many do. Your decision is commonly fueled by previous micro-interactions leading you to make this choice. Despite changing the trajectory of your career, these notions often stem from feeling disrespected, rejected, or held down. Then the thought, or as I like to call it – “the quitting moment” – hits you. A right then and there decision that it’s time to finally move on.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.25 million people quit their jobs in January 2022, which is up from 3.3 million in 2021. Folks, that’s JUST the month of January. The United States’ overall turnover rate in 2021, including both voluntary and involuntary, was 57.3%. The question that remains is – can organizational leaders prevent these turnover rates? The short answer here is yes, and it’s all about improving the gaps in trust, communication, and understanding.

Is Employee Turnover Preventable?

If you’ve had to wait longer at one of your favorite restaurants recently due to staff shortage or a package you ordered arrived an extra week late, you’re in the thick of the aftermath that is America’s Great Resignation. It’s affecting everyone – from small businesses to larger organizations. Though you might personally think these are minor (sometimes major) inconveniences, the reality is that people are unhappy, and they’re leaving their jobs.

Nearly 75% of employee turnover is preventable. How so? First, it’s important to understand why employees leave their jobs. Achievers Workforce Institute’s 2021 Engagement and Retention Report found that the top reasons employees would stay in their current job include:

  • Work-life balance
  • Recognition
  • Compensation
  • Satisfactory working relationship with their manager

What I gather from this is that a vast majority of turnover stems from a lack of caring leadership, with people left feeling overworked and underpaid. Eventually, these things lead to burnout, and no one wants to have a breakdown at their workplace. So instead, these employees quit.

​​Here are a couple of tips you can practice to prevent your good employees from leaving.

1. Receive & Provide Feedback

Everyone within your organization is working towards the same overarching goal. If you are approached with constructive criticism to better yourself or your work, take it as a gift and opportunity to grow and don’t have a negative reaction or take it personally. Likewise, foster an environment that promotes the thoughtful exchange of ideas by projecting the same openness and acceptance of feedback onto your employees.

2. Be Supportive & Transparent

If your team members feel you withhold information, they might begin to feel a sense of distrust, and that distrust could cause them to be less transparent. When there is not an open line of communication, assumptions are made, and mishaps occur that deter the team from their goals. Be transparent, honest, and always communicate and demonstrate that you have an open-door policy.

Some of your employees may show more visible signs that they are struggling. If so, reach out to check in with them. Holding regular one-on-ones will make these off moments much easier to notice. Regardless if they’re stressed with work or something going on at home, encourage them to make small changes such as keeping a stress ball at their desk or going on a lunch break without bringing work along. They deserve to have mental breaks too. If these steps aren’t enough and they’re still feeling overwhelmed, see if there’s additional support you can provide to them, such as reaching out to another team member to redistribute some work. It never hurts to ask!

3. Practice Empathy

You aren’t the only one who experiences emotions and circumstances that affect daily operations. Listen with the intent to really hear your people. Not all employees are comfortable divulging personal information in a personal setting. Still, if you notice something is off, and they could use some help, you can be a supportive leader by offering help with work responsibilities or simply displaying more care in your actions. They’ll trust you more and reciprocate these efforts in the future.

These are just a few things to practice when working in a collaborative work setting – in person or remotely. My best advice, take care of yourself and your employees. Make it openly known that you care, be supportive and accepting of criticism, and keep the lines of communication open. A culture of trust will go a long way in the eyes of retention.