According to research by Global, happiness is a top factor motivating employees’ decisions – and that holds true whether they decide to stay or leave. Happy employees are more likely to feel they have a good cultural fit with their employer. They also have strong relationships with their direct manager and colleagues. If your organization is experiencing a faster than usual turnaround of employees, it might be time to take stock of your employer brand and see how you stack up against your competition in key areas. Below we’ve compiled a list of 8 common reasons employees pack up and leave.


1. bad management

It’s said that employees quit bosses, not companies. In fact, as many as one third of job seekers says that the reason they’re looking to leave their current job is because they dislike their manager, higher than any other single factor. Bad management can be draining and make an otherwise rewarding job seem like serving a prison sentence. Bad management can take many forms. From lack of leadership, to too much leadership (micromanaging), to belittling employees, to inappropriateness, bad bosses run the gamut, and they can all lead to employees wanting out. A bad manager can poison an otherwise productive, collaborative environment, so vet your leaders carefully, and ensure their management style meshes with your organization’s goals.

2. wrong company culture

Though company culture might seem like a minor thing, if the job is otherwise fulfilling, it can actually play an enormous role in how happy employees are at work. Full-time workers spend 8+ hours a day at work. That’s a lot of time to pour into any one institution; more than most of your other waking hours put together. Younger generations, in particular (yep, that’s Millennials) are prioritizing a work culture they believe in, sometimes even over their salary. If they don’t feel like they fit in with coworkers, or that the company’s values align with theirs, they’re likely to move on sooner rather than later. Be upfront about your company’s goals and values from the start. There’s no point in enticing a new employee to your organization, only for them to find out months down the road (after they’ve been trained) that the values promoted during their interview don’t really exist. They’re going to head for the exit either way.

3. lack of pride in the organization

We all want to feel proud of our work and feel like we’re contributing to something worthwhile. Think about how you would tell people about your first jobs. If you worked flipping burgers or stocking shelves at the grocery, you might have told people you worked in the ‘food industry’ or ‘in retail’ purposefully leaving out details you weren’t proud of. The same principle applies to full-time careers, too. Most people want to work for a company that they can proudly share with others. It’s a point of pride to work for an instantly recognizable company and say ‘I work for Amazon’ or ‘I work for Facebook.’

4. stress levels are off the charts

Stress is regularly cited as a contributor to a host of woes from trouble sleeping to obesity to heart conditions. At its worst, it can negatively impact your health and creep into other areas of your life. Let’s face it: no one likes being stressed. And wouldn’t you know it, work is the number one reason people cite for causing stress. Within that category some of the top stressors include: being unhappy in your job, having too heavy a workload, working long hours, having poor management, pressure to meet high expectations, the possibility of termination and facing harassment at work. As an employer, it’s up to you to provide a safe, inclusive environment where employees feel supported. Make sure work-life balance is a priority and that employees have a forum to voice their concerns without fear of retribution.

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5. lack of fairness and respect

Nothing gets employees’ blood boiling faster than feeling like they aren’t being treated fairly. No one’s denying that rules and a company hierarchy are necessary to keep the organization running smoothly. However, company rules should be applied consistently to all employees. That includes management.

Unless there’s a specifically outlined set of rules that apply to managers and other leaders, ensure everyone is treated the same, regardless of their role at the company. Making everyone play by the same rules, regardless of their status, builds respect and trust. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ leaders can breed contempt if their behaviour becomes a regular thing. Also make sure company expectations are clear and achievable, and take the time to listen to employees’ opinions and feedback, even if it’s not always possible to implement it.

6. their work isn’t meaningful to them

Much like wanting to take pride in the organization they work for, most employees also want to be proud of the work they do. If they believe their work is unimportant or meaningless, they’re more likely to feel disconnected from it. When employees have a very niche role focused on one particular task, it can be especially challenging to see how their day-to-day work is making a difference. To counter this issue, ensure that employees understand how their work plays into larger company goals.

Regularly offer employees information and training to help them learn new skills, and ask them how they feel about their work. Also foster an environment where they feel they can be honest about challenges and discontentment they’re facing. If employees are punished for expressing their thoughts, you might not even know they were unhappy until their resignation letter crosses your desk.

7. lack of autonomy

We all like to think we have a hand in steering our career. Whether that means choosing the projects we work on, having authority to make work-related decisions, or influencing company goals, we want to be able to exert some level of control over our day to day work. Employees who are given a little slack to make decisions (and yes, occasionally mistakes!) are more likely to feel fulfilled in their work. They’re more likely to take ownership of their role and come up with new, innovative, boundary-pushing ways of approaching their tasks. Think of your management team as advisors who guide employees as they strive to produce their best work. Managers don’t need to exert control over every decision to be effective. In fact, if you have a strong team, they shouldn’t have to. Employees should be self-sufficient (they’re the specialist in their job after all) and turn to their manager for support when they need to overcome obstacles or to share ideas.

8. no opportunities to advance

At small companies or organizations where employees are segmented into very specialized roles, it can seem like there’s nowhere else for employees to go, even as they gain experience. As employees pick up skills, experience and become specialized, they tend to seek our opportunities to be promoted into senior or leadership roles. Companies that have strong internal promotion structures tend to lead to stronger teams and happier employees.

Sometimes the type of work they’re doing can lead to employees feeling trapped, particularly if they find it’s not fulfilling or not helping them achieve their career goals. If your organization offers cross training, make it clear that there are other opportunities can be explored within the company, if their current role isn’t the right fit, long-term.

Are you finding that your organization is bleeding top performers? It’s time to turn inward and determine if your employer brand is conducive to producing (and retaining) high performers. Your people are at the heart of your brand. Make sure they have the tools and support they need to feel fulfilled at work, and you’ll have a stronger, happier, more productive team.

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To help you crack the code and decipher what benefits Canadians actually want from their employers, we did a deep dive into the benefits and perks that candidates can't say no to!

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