Boost Retention Rates by Understanding Why Your Employees Quit

Doug Horn on September 26, 2014 2:04:00 PM EDT


In life, if you can’t recognize why you failed, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever make the necessary corrections to succeed. Likewise, in business, if you do not understand why your employees keep quitting, you will not be able to retain workers and establish momentum.

This past April saw the percentage of Americans who leave their job voluntarily rise to 2%, its highest point since the heart of the recession in 2009. These employees quit for all kinds of reasons. Some departures are unpreventable, but others can be salvaged by rectifying any problems before it’s too late. A LinkedIn study found that 10.3% of this country’s 15% annual turnover is actually preventable, so you must do your due diligence in order to uncover which of these employees you can actually retain.

Exit interviews can give you a solid idea as to why a particular employee is leaving. Their criticisms, constructive or otherwise, should help you understand how your organization can better treat its employees, and thus assist you in developing higher retention rates.


In order to grow, you must press for the truth from those who are leaving, as sugarcoated niceties will not help your retention rates, but rather perpetuate the cycle or losing quality employees to more promising opportunities. You need to learn to bask in the truth, ugly as it may be.

Below you will find some of the most popular reasons why employees quit their jobs. You may discover that your employees tend to bring up one or more of these reasons. If you find that all of them are relevant, you may be in trouble. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to make some changes.

No Chance of Advancement

Ever hear the phrase dead-end job? Well, if someone is sitting at the same desk, with the same duties, accompanied by the same salary for years on end, they’re going to wind up looking elsewhere for employment. It is actually the #1 reason why employees leave their job, with 32% citing it as such. This is tricky one to navigate, as you don’t want to promote someone who is undeserving. If you assess a certain employee’s value to the company and do not foresee them offering much more to your organization, don’t promote them “just because.” That is NOT a smart business decision. You need to know the value of each of your employees, and be prepared to replace them if they quit for being passed over for a promotion.

Problems with Management

This is a wide-ranging category, as bosses tend to aggravate their employees in a number of different ways. They may be too bossy. They may expect too much. They may even take their employee’s stapler. The list goes on. The simple solution is better management needs to be hired. Managers who listen and keep open lines of dialogue with their employees are universally seen as better bosses than those who lose their tempers and yell. Quality managers will go a long way towards making the workplace a more accommodating atmosphere and boosting retention rates. The fact that 17% of workers quit due to management is unacceptable, and can be safeguarded against by making better hires.

Unchallenging Duties

If an employee lists this as their main reason for leaving, a change can certainly be made to retain them. An employee who wants additional responsibilities on their plate can be an important asset to your company, as a desire to do MORE is a good indicator of a hard worker. Hopefully you discover this before their exit interview, as these are the types of people you want representing your company. With 32% of workers actively looking for new jobs today, it would be a shame for you to lose such quality talent.

Sometimes, employees leave because they received an offer that you cannot possibly match. In that event, simply congratulate them and move on. There will always be reasons with which you can’t compete. Maybe they hit the lottery. Maybe they inherited a lot of money. Maybe they won a frivolous lawsuit against a fast food chain after spilling coffee on themselves. Disregard those. You should only focus on what YOU can change about how you do business. Once you understand the main reasons people leave your company, you can set about fixing them so that your retention rates are something to boast about.