What you’re missing that may cause employees to leave

September 8, 2023

The Great Resignation has gotten a lot of coverage over the past few years with record numbers of people leaving their jobs and of open jobs posted.  As the economy moves further into recession and inflationary pressures weigh on everyone, retaining and attracting top talent is as competitive as it has ever been.  According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, the top four reasons employees quit their jobs are: 

  1. Lack of career development and advancement 
  2. Inadequate total compensation
  3. Uncaring and uninspiring leaders
  4. Lack of meaningful work

But the reasons people noted for their departures are only the beginning of the story.  McKinsey & Company’s research also revealed a significant disconnect between companies and their exiting team members in their understanding of what was important to them.  Several factors were much more important to employees than their employers appreciate, including: 

  • Valued by manager
  • Sense of belonging
  • Having caring and trusting teammates
  • Potential for advancement
  • Valued by organization
  • Flexible work schedule
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.” -- Michaelangelo  

One path to closing these gaps is to create a common understanding of each employee’s unique strengths.  Many people end up on a career path based on guidance from others, family legacy, ease of entry, or other factors that have nothing to do with their internal motivations or capabilities. As a result, they look outside themselves for the source of their dissatisfaction, often putting their lack of development or salary growth on someone else’s shoulders rather than their own. An employee who may not fully understand their internal motivations is more likely to project their dissatisfaction onto their supervisor or teammates. Conversely, many companies attempt to demonstrate their commitment to employees through work schedule flexibility and competitive compensation, but they fall short in meeting their team members’ expectations for meaningful development. At least some portion of that may be due to the employees themselves not fully understanding what will best drive their personal satisfaction.

Providing a clear framework to define an individual’s core values, needs, roles, and skills can help align expectations around the greatest sources of satisfaction and energy for each person. Not only will employees better understand what type of work experience is the best fit, but it also opens a new level of understanding among employees, their peers and company leadership. Furthermore, having a good handle on environmental factors that significantly impact a person’s ability to work in their strengths allows both employee and employer to make conscious choices about work assignments and team composition.  

It is high time that employees and their employers get on the same page about career development, meaningful work, and personal value. Those that succeed at doing so will be well ahead in the race for top talent.

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