base jumpingA recent poll of recruiters from MRI Network revealed that 28% of January 2012′s job opening were due to employees resigning, which is a 7% increase from July 2011.

If the issue of staff retention hasn’t been on your radar lately, then it should be. We may be seeing a return of candidate confidence as the US economy continues its slow but sure climb out of recession.  Fueled by this stabilizing economy, employees who were reluctant to leave a steady job in a recession, may now be ready to up sticks and move to the next opportunity. Your employee retention policy, that has served you so well during a recession where employee urges to leave were dampened, may now be ineffective in an environment of hope and growth where employees are willing and able to leave.

So it looks like it’s time to give your employe retention policy an overhaul. But, where exactly should you start? The best place to start is to try to understand the factors that are driving voluntary resignation in today’s climate; “Why exactly are people leaving?” Once you know this you can begin to design HR policies that address these issues and lower voluntary turnover levels. I have therefore looked at recent research and and set out what I believe are the main factors motivating employees to leave today.

Pay is a key factor contributing to employee resignation

A study from revealed that in 2011 the top reason for leaving a job was ‘seeking higher pay elsewhere’. Also, a slightly older survey from Gallup showed that ‘pay and benefits’ was the second most common reason for employee’s quitting.

Lack of Career Advancement

The Gallup study showed that the most common reason for leaving – being cited by 32% of employees – was a lack of career advancement or promotional opportunities.

Poor relationship with line manager

A joint study by the Society for Human Resource Management and Aon Consulting discovered that ‘poor management’ was one of the top three reasons for employees leaving. The Gallup study also supported these findings, suggesting that nearly one in five people leave due to issues with people management.

Feeling Under Valued

An extensive study of more than 1,700 employees in the US by the American Psychological Association found that over half of employees who said that they felt undervalued are planning to look for new job in 2012.

Other reasons to consider

The Saratoga Institute conducted a survey into why people leave and outlined six more reasons why employees are leaving firms voluntarily. These were:

1. Lack of training
2. Excessive work-load
3. Lack of tools and resources
4. Lack of teamwork
5. Poor upward, downwards and sideways communications
6. Poor senior leadership

Final thoughts…

There is an assumption within this article that all voluntary turnover is bad turnover and this is not true. In some circumstances it may be beneficial to an organization that an employee leaves, as it may give a company the opportunity to hire a better performer and more committed employee. It can also create transfer or promotion opportunities for existing employees.

Therefore, you might want to take this analysis further within your own organization to find out why star employees are leaving, so you can build policies that work to specifically target and retain the best performers.

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