You were caught off guard. Carrie, one of your best and most upbeat employees asked for a meeting out of the blue where she told you she would be leaving in two weeks because she accepted an offer outside of your organization. Carrie resigned, assured that she would see through the transition of her responsibilities, thanked you for everything, and walked out.

No matter how much Carrie assures you that she wasn’t looking for a new role – that she was heavily recruited and that the opportunity fell out of the sky and into her lap – your instincts tell you that she had her ear to the ground for an opportunity outside of your organization.

As Liz Ryan stated in her March 2017 Forbes Article, The Real Reason Good Employees Quit, “One of the biggest problems in the working world is that an invisible, impermeable wall can build up between what employees would love to say and what the leadership team can stand to hear.”

So, why do good employees leave?

Here are 5 of the top reasons good employees leave unexpectedly and what you can do to prevent it:

1. They don’t feel challenged

Most employees take great pride in the work they do, the customer they serve, and the company they work for. When the work they perform begins to feel repetitive, that feeling of pride and satisfaction can fade and leaves the employee feeling less challenged; therefore, less interested. When the challenge fades, so too can the fun.

As a manager, look for ways to keep your employee’s work dynamic, including the addition of a special assignment or project from time to time. Ask your employee to participate in projects that will increase their exposure to new types of work.

A small change in responsibility helps keep interests high and adds to the enjoyment your employee feels in their role.

2. They don’t feel appreciated.

According to Kylie Ora Lobell’s 2015 article How Many Hours a Week Are You Actually Working?, the average employee spends more than 1/4 of the week at work! Employees can feel that all of their creativity, intellect, and effort is dedicated to getting the job done at work. When their manager, leadership, or company owner fall short in showing appreciation, employees may feel their work is under-appreciated.

As a leader, make it a priority to say “thank you” in a special and meaningful way. Try to understand how to reach each person on different levels of the organization and show your appreciation in a genuine way.

A pat on the back, short note/email, or kind word can be just the pick-me-up needed to ensure your team members feel appreciated. In doing so, you are making it known that employees should recognize one another. This will provide a positive, lasting boost to your organization/team’s culture.

3. Their compensation hasn’t kept up with industry trends.

Maybe the employee took a quick peek at to see how their role’s compensation compared. Perhaps their friends shared how much money they make in a similar role.

Employees, now more so than ever, are looking for meaning in their work. According to Gallup’s May 2016 article, What Millennials Want From Work and Life, young professionals “want to understand how they fit in with their jobs, teams and companies.”

This means if you can’t afford to pay at the top or at the median rate, you have to find ways to retain your best employees in other ways. A simple non-tangible reward like casual days or additional PTO can go a long way. Helping them to connect more to the value of their work and work product is monumental in retaining employees.

4. They’ve outgrown their role.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of timing. After an employee has earned their stripes, they can hit a point where their confidence and ability outpace your means to employ them at the next level. This is exciting for the employee and for the company who will see them “graduate” to their next career role.

This is good for the company, good for the employee, and worth everyone taking time to celebrate. These employees will remain advocates of the organization and friends of their former coworkers.

So, is this something you want to try and prevent? Not necessarily. As a leader, take time to consider who these rising stars are in your organization. Consider their growth and if or how you’ll be able to keep them for the long run. Be candid with them and become a mentor for them. Just be weary not to promise anything you won’t deliver.

5. They’re burnt out.

Everyone faces ebbs and flows in their work. Employees can feel like things are moving at a breakneck pace, while other times feel like there’s too much time and too little work. Both scenarios can lead to employee burnout. According to Kronos’ study titled Employee Burnout – Are You There Yet?, 95% of HR leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce.

What can you do? Make time on a regular basis to hear from your team members and – even more importantly – to see them in their work. Gauge if people are on the brink of burnout. Be open with them and empathetic to where they are.

Communication is critical – but a plan is the key. Make sure your employees understand the company’s vision and don’t hesitate to call a time-out if the team needs to change direction.

By better understanding the reasons good employees like Carrie leave, it will help better connect with your employees, increasing the value they bring to your organization, and the value your organization brings to them.

Written by Joe Drayer, Vice President of Boost Engagement

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