Five reasons employees leave – and what you can do to retain them


Catherine Goldie from JobCrystal provides five solutions for the most common reasons that people leave.

  • Catherine Goldie is a communications specialist at JobCrystal

As an employer, you know that holding onto key staff is vital to the overall health and growth of your company. With skills shortages being what they are and the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic lingering, it’s crucial to hold onto and develop the staff you have. So why do employees leave, and how can you help them want to stay?

1. They’re looking for better salary and benefits
It’s a tough economy out there. The cost of living keeps rocketing up and salaries and benefits often stay the same. As such, when it becomes difficult to live on what they are earning, employees look for roles at companies offering a more competitive salary and benefits.

How you can help
First ensure that you know what your employees are worth. Research what their salary should be. Use salary estimation or free salary benchmarking tools to make sure they are earning what they should be. Be open to discussions with your employees regarding raises. Where possible, offer benefits like medical aid schemes, retirement annuity, and petrol allowances. The more financially secure your employees feel, the less likely they are to look for work elsewhere.

2. They’re feeling overworked, burnt out, or under-supported – give them space and understanding
It’s vital to keep checking in with your employees regarding their wellbeing. According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 1 in 5 people in the workforce is dealing with some kind of mental health issue.
The effects of mental health issues are far-reaching and affect every aspect of life. If an employee feels like their workplace is not supporting them or at worst, is actively contributing to their mental health struggles, they will look elsewhere for work.

How you can help
It’s important when meeting with your employee to not just check in regarding work. Check in regarding how they’re feeling. Understand that they have lives outside of work, and respect work-life boundaries. If there is an issue in their work environment, work with them to see how you can solve it. Where possible, allow for flexibility in their work schedules. The more valued your employee feels as a human being, the more likely they are to stay with your company.

3. They’re feeling stuck
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Therefore, when the work isn’t challenging, or there’s no bigger goal in sight, employees often get bored or work on autopilot. If this doesn’t change, your employee may start looking for a new role that will challenge them more. The solution? Make sure that you have a bigger picture in mind.

How you can help
It’s your job as the employer to ensure that there are opportunities for your employees to grow. Talk to your employee about their future plans – where they see themselves in the future. Identify strengths and talents in your staff and provide opportunities and projects where they can utilise these.
Where there is a desire to grow into a certain role, see if you can provide training. Additionally, develop mentorship programmes to allow employees to grow into roles while they work. Giving your employees room to develop will give them things to work towards and make them less likely to look for challenges elsewhere.

4. They don’t feel appreciated
People often feel undervalued or that their hard work goes unnoticed – even if they are just doing their jobs. Remember that the people who care more about the work that they do are the ones who appreciate being told that they are doing well. Most employees won’t actively seek out recognition for their accomplishments. However, not recognising these accomplishments can quickly lead to dissatisfaction.

How you can help
Has your employee exceeded expectations? Has their team successfully completed a big project or hit a tricky target? Then celebrate!
But also, make sure you are identifying not just the big achievements, but also the smaller ones too. Has the employee improved in an area where they were struggling? Have they overcome an obstacle in their work? Celebrate these too. Secondly, be sure to thank your employees for their work, and provide physical prizes (whether gifts, vouchers, bonuses, trophies, or certificates) as a reminder of their achievement and to show your appreciation.

5. They aren’t happy with the company or management
There are many things that can cause a poor fit between management and employees. Unhappy employees are likely to leave and are usually vocal about their dissatisfaction, which can cause a lot of trouble as they are on their way out. If you are reading this article, chances are you care about your employees, so it’s important to address dissatisfaction when you are made aware of it.

How you can help
It’s vital to regularly check on your employee’s job satisfaction. If there is an interpersonal issue involving management, it’s often difficult to pick up on unless you are providing the employee with a safe space to air the issues bothering them.
Implement effective onboarding, making sure to communicate the role and company culture effectively. Furthermore, ensure that you perform “health checks” on your company, both internally and externally. Conduct anonymous company surveys and identify areas where there seem to be problems from within your company.

Identify impartial people outside of your company who you can trust to give you honest opinions on the management of your business and advice on how to improve it. Work with your employees to identify what they would like from their workplace and together implement policies to ensure that everyone is satisfied. Always ensure effective change management and communication, thereby avoiding unnecessary anxiety or uncertainty regarding the future of the company.

Keep in mind
As you’re evaluating and monitoring your employee’s KPIs and career progress, they are assessing their workplace. Always make sure that there are open lines of communication and opportunities to air issues in a safe space. Most importantly, remember your employees are people first, workers second. Never allow the bottom line to eclipse the value of each individual at your company. It’s much easier to be motivated and excited about a company that values you in return.
JobCrystal offers recruitment services tailored to the needs of SMEs. Job Crystal is the only passive job-seeker database in the country, which allows you to be one step ahead. With us it’s about real-time search, candidate database access and quick turnaround time.


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