It is the nightmare of many Employers – receiving a written notice from one of your best employees. They could be your best salesperson, one of your longest-serving employees, a senior manager or someone you had great plans for in the future. Being informed that they are leaving (and potentially taking their skills to a competitor) can be a devastating blow.


Sometimes people will want to move jobs for their own personal reasons, they may desire a change of career, they may be re-locating or looking for a different challenge. In these instances, there is not much you can do as an employer to keep them on side. But where the employee has issues or matters that are making them unhappy in their role, there are steps that employers can take to ensure they improve their chances of retaining their best talent.


Our Employment Law Solicitors regularly work with both employers and employees, below they share the 5 top reasons why people leave their jobs and provide some tips for employers to improve their retention.


Gaining Feedback From Leavers


In order to combat the issue of losing key employees, it is important to understand why they are leaving.


Workplaces should be carrying out exit interviews as standard practice where information can be sought as to why they have decided to leave and if they have any constructive feedback. Of course, it can be difficult to obtain accurate information from an exit interview as employees may be reluctant to voice criticism or give their true reasons for moving on.


A better way of acquiring valid information might be to use an external provider to conduct the exit interview, use an online form or ensure that the person conducting the meeting is not their direct manager.


Top 5 Reasons Why Employees Leave


#1 Stress


Stress is one of the main drivers for people looking to make an exit from their employment. Learning and development platform ‘HeyNow’ found that 60% of employees interviewed for the research listed stress as their reason for leaving their employment. There are two different types of stress, “good stress” which can help drive and motivate staff to achieve. The type of stress that makes them feel important and excited about aspects of their job. Good stress can provide energy and a positive ‘buzz’ in the workplace. “Bad stress” however, is the type of stress that leads to poor mental health, physical illness and burnout. This may be brought on from unattainable goals, unrealistic deadlines, a toxic culture, poor management or issues with colleagues.


How to Resolve This?


Employers have a legal requirement to take reasonable care and measures to look after the mental health of their employees. Just as employees should be safe from physical harm, they should feel supported in their mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Managers should ensure that they have regular one-to-one meetings with their staff ensuring that workloads and stress is on the agenda. If you find that numerous employees are experiencing stress on a regular basis, then it may be worth reviewing your workplace culture in relation to stress, deadlines and expectations. You may need to provide further management training or adopt a wellbeing policy to make staff feel more supported. A good manager will be able to spot signs of stress and provide helpful guidance for anyone struggling.


#2 Clash of Management


When an employee disagrees with management decisions or there are underlying clashes of personality, it can cause problems within the workplace. Employees may feel that they are unable to carry on working under their management or might feel that their chances of progression are compressed due to not seeing eye-to-eye with the ‘powers that be’. In a study be CareerAddict, four in ten people went so far as to say that they would return to their old job if their former manager was replaced.


How to Resolve This?


There is a saying that ‘people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.’ Employers should ensure that all levels of their management receive high quality training, not just at the start, but throughout their career to sharpen their skills and keep up to date with employment law changes. Managers should be appraised on their ability to manage their teams and receive regular feedback and guidance.


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#3 Lack of Progression


Most employees will have career goals that they want to achieve in their lifetime. Not all of your staff will desire to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, however most people want to develop their skills or earn more money as their career progresses. It can be frustrating for employees to not have a clear path towards their goals or to be rewarded for their efforts. There have understandably been fewer promotions made across all industries due to the pandemic, however employees have continued to work, often in challenging environments and it is important that those worthy of promotions are not overlooked in the near future.


How to Resolve This?


Have a clear plan on how employees can progress within your company. If there is not a clear structure (as it is not always possible in certain industries or businesses) then make sure career progression is the topic of some of your one-to-one meetings and is addressed in your employee appraisals. Set realistic expectations on career progression from the offset and ensure that you never make promises about promotions or training that you cannot guarantee. According to Penna, more than a third of managers (36%) admitted to not knowing what their subordinate’s career goals were over the next 12 months. This should be addressed to improve management and retention.


#4 Work Life Balance


This is something that is important to most people and has been highlighted over the last year with people working from home, working flexibly and juggling childcare. Most people work to live rather than live to work and it is important that they are able to enjoy quality time outside of the workplace too. Employees want to be trusted to work from home, or anywhere else (within reason) now that they have proven that it works. In a recent FlexJobs survey, 82% of employees said they would be more loyal and less likely to leave if they had more flexibility in their role.


How to Resolve This?


Ensure that you harbour a positive workplace culture that enables people to leave the office on time and is mindful of people’s workloads and commitments outside of work. Where possible offer flexible working, either via a blanket policy or on a case-by-case basis. Make sure you are on the right side of employment law when it comes to working time regulations, as there are some grey areas to be mindful of. Provide management training to those responsible for monitoring teams that are working from home or working flexible hours. Have clear communication and stick to your policies to avoid litigation.


#5 Compensation and Benefits


Another reason that you might have expected to feature in the most common reasons why people leave their jobs is for more money or a better package. Employees are expecting more in the way of benefits and perks than ever before and are considering packages as a whole rather than just the basic salary. Employees heads can be turned if a competitor is offering a more appealing package, or they are feeling under-valued in their current role.


How to Resolve This?


Again, communicating with staff regularly to understand their career goals, salary expectations and whether they are feeling satisfied within their job is crucial. It is also good to have an ear to the ground on salary trends in your industry and what competitors are offering in way of pay and benefits. Employee benefits should be reviewed regularly to ensure you are getting the best deals and also offering perks that employees actually desire.


Takeaway Point to Consider

  • How accurate is your feedback from leavers? Can you improve this by tweaking your policy?
  • Is your workplace culture working for or against your retention aims?
  • Do your managers understand team members career aspirations?
  • How often do managers receive formal training and refreshers on management skills?
  • Are you competitive enough to keep your best people from going to a competitor?


Get In Touch


If you are looking for some management training or need assistance with any employment or HR matters, then please get in touch with our Employment Law Team who can help guide you.


Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online assistant who can take your details and arrange for one of our Employment Lawyers to make contact.


Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

Make Employee’s Mental Health a Priority as Businesses Re-Open

No Job, No Job: Can Employees Insist on Employee Vaccines?

Useful Tips For Working From Home


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.