The turn of any year is a time of reflection for employees. We review the past and seek a path to a better future. Naturally, our work lives are an important part of this. The beginning of any year is a time for new plans, new resolutions and new starts. Employers, meanwhile, work to ensure top talent is not lost to competition.
Each year we undertake research on the career motives and drivers of executive and professional talent. Amongst these is a focus on the exit drivers of valued executives and we set out below the top five reasons shared, other than location or unavoidable lifestyle elements, as the basis for resignation decisions and changing jobs in 2017.
1. My manager not showing me respect. Over 90% of employees support the adage that people rarely leave companies, they leave leaders. Respect is defined as “appropriate levels and channels of communication”, “recognition”, “fairness” and “trust”.
2. Blocked career paths. In over 50% of the candidates spoken with, a former peer had been promoted or an outside candidate parachuted in over them. While this raised concern, it was the absence of any explanation shared for the decision or discussion about alternative future paths that triggered the decision to move.
3. Compensation. It is common for people to expect more pay than is currently being received but rare for employees to make exit decisions on this basis alone. Employees who highlighted compensation as a primary issue, invariably said they were told the subject was a closed matter and not open for discussion. This they felt was disrespectful. “If they
explained why and what I need to do to improve my pay, I would not have looked outside for other roles”.
4. Inappropriate workload. During the downturn as employees were let go, many of their colleagues absorbed their responsibilities. Some organisations have not moved on from this. Employees expect their work to fit in with their lives and not the other way around. Several employees felt underutilised and were bored with their current workload and saw no alternative opportunities in their current workplace.
5. Change in corporate culture. Though this heading includes firms undertaking a wide range of transformations, employees who leave following an acquisition or merger frequently cite this as the driver for exiting. They typically describe how leaders either fail to recognise the impact of change or brush over it, demonstrating a lack of authenticity.
For employees considering a career change, we consistently urge they ensure the time is right, be it at any point in the year. To always leave on good terms and to ensure a move to a new role is about more than getting away from a current one.
The connection between the above five exit drivers is of course communication. In each of these cases, proper and continuous communication between an employee and their manager may have prevented an expensive loss of talent. Employers undertaking new hiring should always look within first and exhaust all reasonable internal hiring options before looking at external pools. Planning for future roles by communicating with, and focussing on the development of, current talent is the most powerful retention strategy.
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