It was the best of managers, it was the worst of managers.
No, this isn’t the start of the most boring Dickensian fanfic ever – it’s the tale of the disappearing employee. Whether you’re the world’s coolest boss or you conjure up thoughts of Office Space in the minds of your employees, you’ve had someone quit before. About one-third of new hires quit their jobs within six months – an alarming statistic.
Sometimes, the signs are obvious: The employee is never on time; they are disengaged and unhappy; they don’t get along well with coworkers; they just can’t do the job. Other times, however, the warning signs are far more subtle: The employee never speaks in meetings; they don’t get the raise they feel they deserve; they want something more than the job can give them.
While 33 percent of employees know within their first week on the job whether or not they’ll stay with the company for the long term, it can often be a guessing game for leaders and managers. However, it doesn’t have to be that way: If you open up communication with your employees and take stock of the most common reasons why people are leaving, you’ll find out what’s really driving up turnover at your company.
Here are a few typical reasons why people leave their jobs:
1. They’re Totally Stressed Out
Is your workplace making your employees sick? It’s possible. Thirty-three percent of people feel they are living with extreme stress, but most companies never take time to ask employees about their stress levels. Especially if your onboarding process only goes as far as buying your new hire lunch on their first day, you need to take steps to ensure that stress isn’t eating your workforce alive.
Say Bye!: If new employees are unprepared for the work you have waiting for them, they will be stressed. You can combat this with, of course, better onboarding and training processes.
Onboarding can begin before you even send an offer letter. Just be honest during the hiring process. If the job you are hiring for is hard, say so. If many people in the past have found their skills were not up to the task, make that clear up front. Use assessments to really see if candidates are right for the job. Take a look at how you can better prepare quality candidates for working at your company. Instead of checking in with them every day for their first week and then never again, set up weekly meetings to keep the lines of communication open regarding stress levels and other challenges.
2. They Never See Their Families
Does your company work hard while conveniently forgetting to play hard? Thirty-eight percent of employees report they have missed life events because of a bad work/life balance.
Employees want to see their families, spend time with their friends, and pursue lives outside of spreadsheets and meetings. If new employees look around and see their coworkers rarely leave the cubicle confines of the office, they’re much more likely to quit.
Say Bye!: Introduce flexible work hours, generous vacation policies, and job-sharing programs. You can’t change the workload, but you can give employees options when it comes to how and when they do it.
Can’t offer that kind of autonomy? Try giving employees more options about how they dress and how long their lunches can be. Perhaps you can offer one work-from-home day a week. Unexpected vacation days are always appreciated as a form of bonus.
3. They’re Broke.
Your employees could be ready to leave because they’re not being paid enough. According to one estimate, 35 percent of employees will start looking for new jobs if they don’t receive a raise in the next year.
It is imperative that company leaders ensure compensation packages are in line with what competitors are offering. Pay won’t always determine whether an employee stays or goes, but it will surely cost the company a lot of money to replace that person if and when they do.
Say Bye!: Controlling employee pay when you don’t control the purse strings is tough. If you’ve already done what you can to advocate for your employees, try alternatives to pay. Rewards and recognition make a huge difference, as do more relaxed working conditions.
If you can’t get even a small raise approved, do the math to show your higher-ups what losing this person (or these people) could do to productivity, morale, and the bottom line. Share salary data with employees so they know they are being paid fairly. Stay updated on salary trends, and when discussing salaries, always take into account the whole compensation packaged, including PTO, benefits, and other perks, so that employees see the big picture.
4. They Hate You
Okay, that may be too strong, but it is true that bad relationships with managers are the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs. Many of us have been there before. We can all identify with having a manager so terrible they drive us away from a job. The question is: How do you become one of the managers people want to work for?
Say Bye!: First, you better recognize.
No, really: Recognition is a top driver of employee engagement. In one survey, 58 percent of respondents said that managers who want to improve engagement should give more recognition. If you refuse to recognize people’s excellent work, you will have retention issues.
Just recognizing isn’t enough, though. You have to also reward your people for a job well done. Recognition, communication, and helping your employees set goals for their careers are all hallmarks of great managers, so make sure you’re doing these things!
5. They Don’t Know Where Their Careers Are Going
If you let your employees stagnate in the same roles for years, they’re going to leave. People want to achieve new goals, try additional projects, and face exciting new challenges. If an employees is always getting passed over for promotions, watching their ideas die in committee, or doing arduous and boring work, They’re going to leave.
Say Bye!: This is one of the easiest issues to fix! Simply map out career progression paths available within your company and make them clear to employees. If you have opportunities for growth, move people out of boring admin roles into team leadership positions or other, more challenging roles. Regularly meet with employees to discuss career development. Offer learning opportunities whenever you can.
Career development is especially important to millennials, 53 percent of whom say learning new things and/or having access to professional development opportunities would make them stay at their jobs.
People want to advance in their careers, enjoy positive work/life balances, and actually like their leaders. Moreover, all employees have goals, whether it’s learning new skills, exploring new responsibilities, or landing a new title. Managers need to pay attention to those goals and to employees’ needs in general if they want people to stick around for the long haul.
A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.