The Big Issues Beneath our Turnover Problems


Not every new hire will stay with you. That’s not new.

What is new is the rate at which employees are leaving. According to research recently released by the Work Institute of over 250,000 employees, a staggering one in four, will voluntary leave.

And if the data bears out, it is only going to get worse. By the year 2020, one in every three employees will leave. And by 2023, voluntary turnover will hit 35%.

The cost of employee turnover has almost doubled since 2010 from $331 billion to $617 billion today. This alarming data places companies at continuous and enormous risk, but there is some good news…

77% of the Reasons Employees Quit are Preventable

Employee turnover will always be around, but there are ways to mitigate it. Let’s look at the five most common reasons employees are leaving, and what companies can do about it.

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Five Common Reasons for Employee Turnover

The number one reason employees leave should come as no surprise – it’s been the same reason for the last nine years in a row.

  1. Career Development: Today, nearly one-fourth of all employees voluntarily resign over this issue. This number has risen by 32% since 2013. Lack of growth and opportunity was one of the most common career development reasons and is up by 170% since 2010. Employees don’t want to remain stagnant in their jobs.

Growth is important. One solution is to offer some opportunity for professional development with each employment position. That doesn't mean every new hire should have a clear path to the C-suite, but your company could offer employees skills-based learning, more responsibility over time, inclusion in meetings, and more interaction with key teams. Most importantly, it means sharing with employees how the work and development opportunities available to them align with their career aspirations.

Employers need to make a conscious effort to understand the job seeker is making a buying decision, and that much of that buying decision is based on what your organization can offer around talent mobility.  Today’s job seekers are looking to build their knowledge, skills and digital knowledge to ensure they remain relevant in the digital world. If you cannot provide that, they will move along.

The point is this: no one should be expected to be the same employee today as they were when you first hired them. Help them continue to find fulfillment in their work by challenging, stretching, and training them. It’s a win-win.

  1. Unengaged Employees: How do you identify unengaged employees? Sometimes this is a tough one to pinpoint, however, if any of the following statements hold true in your company’s culture, they could be indicators of unengaged employees:
  • Your employees don’t know what they are working for or what the company stands for.
  • There is no shared vision, and therefore no sense of camaraderie or shared purpose.
  • There is no motivation, and no urgency to grow and develop.

Today, the number of employees feeling a lack of empowerment in their work is up by 337.1%. And over 8% cite general job characteristics as their top reason for leaving. This number has increased by 615.6% since 2010. If employees don’t have a sense of purpose in their work, then lack of engagement is bound to happen.

One strategy is to simply involve employees more in key company actions. Communicate big-picture goals. Ask for input from workers on a regular basis. Even communicating company problems or challenges can help employees ‘feel more a part of things.’

Your company should also clearly articulate its beliefs and vision. Employees want more purpose, inspiration and connectivity in the workplace. They see success as a team effort and depend on everyone’s ability to reach the goals in a collaborative manner. When workers perceive they are being included…are being valued and trusted…they are more willing to sacrifice or go the extra mile, especially for an employer they view as having their best interests at heart.

Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement survey found that “The best workplaces give their employees a sense of purpose, help them feel they belong, and enable them to make a difference.”

  1. Lack of Feedback and Recognition. Direct and regular communication with employees is a talent best practice - and a business imperative. Giving feedback to workers is the first step to ensuring their success. From a business standpoint, feedback is a proven way to set expectations and identify individuals and functions that are working well, and those that are not.

A lack of feedback can leave employees feeling shut out, disheartened, unmotivated and struggling to perform.  In fact, 15.1% of employees cited lack of support from management as their reason for leaving, which is up by 237.8 percent since 2010.

Recognition motivates and engages employees, and it could help to retain them.  We all need a pat on the back from time-to-time and we all need to know we’re noticed for what we do. No one comes to work and says “I want to do a lousy job today.” Every contribution matters; letting your employees know that helps engagement and productivity.

Showing support and recognition can be grand or understated – whatever best suits your company. Often times, publicly thanking an employee for a job well done is enough. Do that often, and you’ve built a culture of respect, gratitude, satisfaction, and reward.

  1. Selecting the Wrong Hire. This is where poor employee retention most often begins. Select the wrong candidate to hire and you could be paying a steep price. Chances are you’ll be rehiring for that position in the not too distant future. And with cost-per-hire figures continuing to go up, that could be an expensive proposition. Today, the cost to lose just one U.S. worker is estimated at $15K.

Too many open positions to staff? Learn how Powersourcing can fill your recruiter's pipeline fast.

The best strategy for finding the right employees begins well ahead of the selection process. It starts with better talent sourcing; and applying precise strategies and methods.

After a candidate has been identified (sourced), the next step involves interviewing. Make sure HR and hiring managers are on the same page regarding candidate qualifications and performance expectations. Train your hiring managers to become more effective interviewers and use tools such as pre-hire assessments for further screen prior to selection.

Pre-hire assessments are among the most proven methods for increasing retention of newly hired employees. They help identify candidates who are most likely to remain with the company by evaluating crucial workplace factors. These may include the work style of the candidate, what type of supervision they respond to, what the candidate finds most important in a workplace, career path, etc.

There are multiple touchpoints throughout the recruiting process to apply strategies and methods that will help select candidates who are likely to be successful long-term employees.

  1. Poor culture fit. Today, five out of 100 employees leave because they are not happy with the work environment. Of those, 41% are due to culture-employee misfit. This percentage change has increased by a staggering 1,508.1% since 2010. Employees simply won’t stay when they know they can find better conditions elsewhere.

Most think that poor culture fit has to do with the new hire. Actually, it can be the other way around. This is a good thing because employers have control over their culture.  The key here is for companies to take a critical look at themselves.

Is your current culture sabotaging morale, or does it inspire your talent?

Is it accepting or is it rigid, forcing new hires to fit in?

Is it stressful, or does it encourage collaborative teaming to deal with the workload?

One way to answer these questions is to conduct regular culture audits. Elicit confidential (yes, confidential) feedback from employees and managers as to what you are doing right and what can be improved. Then, it’s up to leadership to listen to what employees are saying and act on it. Even great cultures can move from great to awesome.


Other factors may come in to play beyond the ‘big 5’ causes of employee turnover.


These can include salary and compensation, benefits, scheduling flexibility and physical work environment. For the most part, these factors are more quantifiable, and therefore more readily ‘fixable’ through direct action.

If your company has challenges with employee turnover, it may help to look for these common causes in your own workplace. Identifying what needs to be addressed is the first step to achieving a work environment that attracts — and keeps — its best performers.

Get the facts and figures at-a-glance about employee turnover. Download our pdf.

Do you know what it takes to drive better engagement with your candidates and employees? Talk with the experts at Newton Talent and learn how we can help you build and implement the right strategy for your company. Connect with us.

Written by Patty Silbert

President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.