The top 5 causes of employee turnover (and strategies to prevent them)

Research has found that the average employee turnover rate for a UK business is around 15% per year. As an HR manager, you might see that number and try to do the maths for your own organisation. If your own turnover rate is lower, you’re doing a great job of keeping your employees happy. If your rate is higher, you might have some work to do. 

There are many reasons why an employee might quit their job. It could be because of personal reasons, such as leaving to have a baby, or it might be due to workplace issues such as a toxic company culture. When a longtime employee leaves, companies have to reckon with the loss of a good worker with strong industry and customer knowledge, as well as the costs of hiring their replacement. Needless to say, these effects can be felt in both the short and the long term – so the best way to avoid these is through prevention. 

As an HR manager, one of your responsibilities should be finding ways to reduce or prevent employee turnover. On the blog this week, we’ll share five of the most common reasons why employees walk away from their jobs, and strategies you can use to avoid this issue. 

#1: Lack of growth and progression

If your employees feel trapped in a stagnant, dead-end job, they’re going to start looking elsewhere. Providing your staff with opportunities for career progression, such as internal promotions, is essential for long-term retention. 

Consider investing in leadership training programs and career development services if your company doesn’t already do so. This will tell your employees that you care about their professional development and want them to excel, which will help them to feel like valued and respected members of your team.

Marc Holliday of NetSuite has put together some great bullet points of questions to ask about your company’s training programs, to ensure they meet your employees’ professional wants and needs:

  • Is there a clear path for career growth and advancement? Does senior leadership fully buy into our employee development strategy?
  • Do we have formal learning and development programs in place? If not internally, are we able to provide access to third-party opportunities that will help employees gain new skills?
  • Do we have defined programs to mentor employees, and is there flexibility for employees to explore different departments and functions?
  • Do we align our business goals with employee career goals?

By following this advice, you will be sure to develop some great training opportunities that your employees will benefit from and appreciate massively. 

#2: Being overworked 

Burnout is a huge problem in the professional world. In the short term, it can cause employees to feel unmotivated and stressed. In the long run, it can cause mental and physical health problems. In fact, official statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that in 2020/21, there were an estimated 822,000 workers affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and that these accounted for a shocking 50% of all cases of work-related ill health.

It’s understandable that on the odd occasion, you might need to ask your staff to take on extra responsibilities during a particularly busy period. However, if a worker finds themselves having to spend longer hours at work on a regular basis, this could lead to a poor work-life balance, which will cause frustration – and ultimately, resignations. 

Line managers should regularly monitor their teams’ productivity and workloads to ensure there is a fair distribution of work, and to benefit from the opportunity to notice any problems before these become significant. If your employees are struggling under their workload, try to discuss adjustments to help them manage, or consider if you need to cut back tasks or hire an extra team member to help lighten the load. The key here is to demonstrate awareness, understanding, and the desire to work towards a solution. By providing good support to your staff like this, they will be much less likely to start looking for work elsewhere. 

#3: Lack of feedback and recognition

People always like to receive praise for a job well done. At the same time, constructive feedback can go a long way in providing opportunities for learning, and helping an employee identify what they need to work on. In fact, a Gallup survey has found that workers who have positive feelings after managers’ feedback are about four times more likely to be engaged with their work, and only 3.6% of these people are actively looking for new jobs.

Not providing employees with feedback on their work, or only focusing on the negatives, can leave them feeling like they lack guidance and support in developing their skills. If an employee is struggling with their work, your honest feedback can help them manage their workload and refocus their efforts. Ignoring the opportunity for feedback, or providing unhelpful feedback, will leave your employee feeling disheartened, and eventually wanting to give up altogether. 

Feedback doesn’t always have to come from a manager to be effective. Peer-to-peer feedback can be just as encouraging, and can help improve morale and general motivation. From a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ to salary bonuses, recognising your employees for their hard work will make them happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company for longer.

#4: Negative workplace culture

Forbes reports that a toxic workplace culture is 10.4 times more likely to contribute to an employee’s resignation than other factors. Company culture is hugely important not only to jobseekers, but to your current employees as well. 

A negative workplace culture could stem from lots of things. These can vary in severity, from gossipy colleagues who exclude others, to outright bullying and harassment. Of course, no organisation deliberately sets out to create a toxic workplace culture, but this is normally the result of many factors working together to cause employees to feel stressed, cynical, or unsafe at work. 

If you suspect that your company culture might be contributing to employee turnover, one way to address this is to evaluate the relationship between senior management and other employees. After all, without support from leadership, it can be difficult for any attempts to improve company culture to be successful. Some useful questions to ask might include:

  • Do employees feel respected and empowered to do their work, or do they feel like they’re being unfairly micromanaged? 
  • Is there a culture of inclusion that values all employees, regardless of their background or position in the company? 
  • Do employees feel able to speak up about workplace issues, and are these concerns treated fairly?

Your team needs to have a genuine belief in your company’s mission and values for these to be visible in their work, and company culture is at the heart of this. Making an effort to improve company culture will be hugely respected by your staff, and could persuade them to keep their job for longer. 

#5: Lack of flexibility

Gone are the days of the 9-to-5 office routine. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that many employees are now looking for jobs that will allow them to have flexibility in their schedule, whether that means flexible working hours, or the opportunity to spend some (or all) of their time on the clock working from home. The truth is that employers who stiffly refuse these requests may find themselves with vacancies to fill in the near future. 

The definition of ‘flexibility’ will vary depending on your industry. For example, shift workers such as those in hospitality may not be able to have flexible working hours, but providing your staff with schedules in good time with the option to swap shifts around with colleagues is one solution to this. 

If your company is office-based, you may have staff who don’t need to be in the office to be productive. Be open to conversations with individual employees about their specific needs, and you could find yourself with a happier, more motivated flexible workforce. 

Get your recruitment right with TalentSpa

We hope this article has helped you develop your understanding of the reasons behind employee turnover, and you now feel prepared to do the work to prevent this issue. However, one of the first steps to preventing employee turnover is to make sure that you choose the right hires in the first place – but if you’re having trouble filling your vacancies, we can help!


At TalentSpa, we’ll help you find the perfect hire for your company, with dedicated support from day one. Call us today on 020 3982 7600 to find out how we can help you achieve your recruiting goals in 2022, or visit our website for more information here!

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