Why employees leave – and how to stop them wanting to

There are several reasons why an organisation may encounter waning employee loyalty and a decline in employee engagement levels. Some may relate to the pandemic – e.g., unmanageable workloads and lack of support from managers / HR. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Other reasons may relate to a shift in employees’ personal goals and needs. For example, the pandemic has caused many people to rethink their priorities, such as how they wish to work (e.g., in a hybrid working environment instead of predominantly in-office).

Perhaps the media hype around the Great Resignation is in part to blame for the mass exodus of employees, prompting even ‘satisfied’ workers to consider seeking new employment for a higher salary or more flexible working opportunities.

While staff turnover is inevitable – and in some cases necessary – employers must do all they can to hold onto their top performers in 2022. Employee engagement is best likened to a sliding scale, meaning it can go up and down. But in this talent-short market, it’s important employers are attuned to the warning signs of declining employee engagement that suggest an employee is about to call it quits.

Signs that your employees are going to quit

Below are 5 warning signs to look out for.

1. They are disengaged in their work and in the organisation

When an employee decides they want to change jobs, they often mentally ‘check out’ of their current one. They may fulfil their necessary duties without protest, but they will not show enthusiasm. They may also be distant in conversations about projects or organisational updates because they will not deem it relevant to them.

According to a study by Gallup,[2] employees with high levels of engagement in their work have 41% lower rates of absenteeism and are 17% more productive. Additionally, compared with their less productive colleagues, they have 24% less turnover. Ultimately, when translated into dollars, disengagement can harm an organisation’s bottom line

2. The quality of their work has declined

Another clue to indicate an employee is one foot out of the door is poor work output. These employees are not out to impress; they are unconcerned with performance reviews. The care-factor will decline so their lack of effort will become noticeable.

3. They exhibit poor behaviours

Another tell-tell sign that an employee is headed towards the exit is that they are displaying poor behaviours. For example, they may have a bad attitude towards their work or team, they may miss deadlines, or they may be late to meetings.

Of course, it’s important to consider that an employee who is displaying negative behaviours may be struggling in their personal life and may require support from their employer. As such, be sure to approach all discussions with employees with compassion, an open-mind, and kindness.

4. They become isolated 

If an employee is continually distancing themselves from their team members and interacts less than is characteristic, it could indicate they are not interested in investing themselves in the company, because they have plans to leave.

5. They take more days off

An employee who is on their way out may call in sick more frequently, perhaps to attend job interviews elsewhere. Of course, an employer should never assume they know what is going on outside of work, but it may prompt a discussion between a manager and their employee about the employees’ wants and needs. Such a conversation may have a positive outcome, and cause the employee to regain motivation and satisfaction within their role.

How to retain your employees

It’s critical that employers are aware of what employees want and need when it comes to driving retention efforts. ELMO’s Employee Sentiment Index identified  New Zealand and Australian employees’ top priorities in 2022. They were:

  • Remuneration and bonus payments / incentives
  • Flexible / remote working
  • Stability of an organisation

So, when it comes to boosting retention efforts and employee engagement, this is a good place to start.

Other practices that will ensure employees feel valued and, in turn, increase retention, include the following.

  • Create a culture of recognition and feedback

It has been a hard couple of years, and it would be remiss of employers not to recognise the hard work and achievements of its people. Therefore, introducing a tool like ELMO Rewards and Recognition can go a long way in stopping dissatisfied employees from walking out the door.

  • Improve performance management processes

When employees feel undervalued, their loyalty towards the company can fade. Strengthening performance management processes – that is, improving how a company evaluates and assesses employees – builds trust and engagement, and helps to ensure top performers feel appreciated. ELMO Performance Management is a tool that can maximise employee performance and potential.

  • Build a positive workplace culture 

The culture of an organisation can be described as its ‘personality’ – the way employees interact with each other and their work, and the atmosphere that is perpetuated. Employers can cultivate a positive healthy culture by enhancing communication, recognition, and opportunity for growth.

Strengthening these core pillars is the key to developing and retaining your top performers, with whom your organisation can take on whatever 2022 brings.

ELMO Software (ASX:ELO) is a cloud-based solution that helps thousands of organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to effectively manage their people, process and pay. ELMO solutions span the entire employee lifecycle from ‘hire to retire’. They can be used together or stand-alone, and are configurable according to an organisation’s unique processes and workflows. Automate and streamline your operations to reduce costs, increase efficiency and bolster productivity. For further information, contact us.

[1] “‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours”, McKinsey & Company, September 2021

[2] Gallup, 2019

Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.
Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.