Employee turnover is expensive and disruptive to businesses. To reduce employee turnover, managers must address why their employees want to leave. According to a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, “In general, people leave their jobs because they don’t like their boss, don’t see opportunities for promotion or growth, or are offered a better gig (and often higher pay); these reasons have held steady for years.”

It is possible for an effective manager to address these issues before a valuable employee utters the dreaded words, “I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.” The best strategy is to be proactive.

Evaluate Your Performance as a Manager (and Ask Your Employees to Help)

“Employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss.” This often-repeated statement should come as no surprise, since workers’ relationships with their managers connect them to the larger organization. However, sometimes it is difficult for a supervisor to know if they are doing a good job. After all, in the interest of self-preservation, workers are unlikely to be blatantly honest. This is where it may be helpful to have employees officially evaluate their superiors. Does this sound too scary? Google has had documented success with a semiannual “Upward Feedback Survey” checklist that workers use to anonymously rate their managers. (Business Insider, 2015)

Encourage a Culture that Promotes Value and Growth

Workers want to feel as though they are an integral and important part of their organizations. They want to contribute, to succeed, and to improve. Dead-end jobs are a breeding ground for turnover. Top-performing managers provide new experiences and have ongoing conversations about goals. In fact, “My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months.” is #6 on Google’s Upward Feedback Survey.

Focus on Preemptive Intervention

Workers do not want to job hunt. It’s time-consuming and scary. Even if things are not going well, most people will rationalize their current situation and try to make it work. Attentive managers should be aware of signs that an employee is unhappy and address the issues they see. It is more efficient to catch an unhappy employee than to make a counteroffer to attempt to keep them. Statistics from the National Employment Association show that 80 percent of people who accept counteroffers either leave or are let go within six months. (Fortune, 2017)

When an employee transitions out of a company, it is easy to resort to clichés or lame excuses. The real reasons for switching jobs are usually more complex, and it is important for management to address best strategies for retention at both an individual and a companywide level.

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