shadowNo company can ever entirely prevent employees from quitting. Even the most employee-friendly business will see a worker quit and move on at some point.

However, if your company suffers a higher-than-average turnover rate, it might be time to connect with your workers and figure out what you can do to get them to stay. Until you take steps to locate and fix the problem, you’ll continue hemorrhaging workers and dealing with unnecessarily high turnover and hiring costs.

The first step toward lowering turnover is employee engagement. When your workers don’t feel like their concerns are being heard and addressed, chances are they’ll eventually look for new companies that have more employee-focused corporate cultures. Instead of continuously losing talent to those other companies, why not become the company known for caring about the concerns of its workforce?

The top five reasons employees quit include career development (22 percent), work/life balance (12 percent), management behavior (11 percent), compensation and benefits (9 percent), and well-being (9 percent), according to the “2017 Retention Report,” a study published by workforce intelligence, research, and consulting firm Work Institute. Looking at how your company handles these areas could be a good place to get started when it comes to reducing turnover.

To Find Out Why Employees Are Quitting, Talk to Them

Although the aforementioned reasons are among the most common reasons why employees seek new opportunities, no two companies are the same.

“As most organizations are unique, less than 8 percent share the same turnover profile, or most common reasons for leaving,” explains Dr. Lindsay Sears, associate vice president of research and analytics at Work Institute. “Therefore, it’s initially important to know why your employees are leaving overall and then why, more specifically, your first-year employees are leaving.”

According to Work Institute’s report, first-year employees are the employees at greatest risk of leaving. Last year, the most common reasons why first-year employees jumped ship were: job characteristics, well-being, and work/life balance.

SittingDespite the averages put forth in the report, executives must be careful not to make assumptions about their own companies based on what’s going on with competitors or similar companies.

“The No. 1 mistake we see companies make is assuming they are like other companies,” says Dr. Sears. “Most companies are unique, and organizations must first confirm employees’ reasons for leaving by asking [former] employees why they left in a way that minimizes bias and maximizes accuracy. After an organization has obtained reliable data to understand why employees are leaving, we recommend they also find out the reasons that successful employees are staying. With high-quality data on why people leave and stay in a given company, retention strategies that are developed and implemented are more likely to be successful.”

Remember That Your Employees Have the Power

It’s important to remember that your top talent likely has multiple options elsewhere if you don’t treat them right.

“Employees are firmly in control in the job market, and organizations must make concerted efforts to become preferred employers if they hope to attract and retain talent,” says Dr. Sears.

For Dr. Sears, becoming a preferred employer first requires gaining insight into what drives employee behavior. Organizations need to gather and act on high-quality data in order to create the kinds of workplaces in which the right talent thrives.

Just don’t rely on surveys to gather this data.

“Common survey approaches require the survey designer to make assumptions about the issues that are most important to employees, and these surveys ask questions with set answer choices to measure each issue instead of giving employees a voice in what matters most,” Dr. Sears says. “A survey-based list of questions can actually limit your view of what’s really going on in a workforce. We recommend employee interviews that incorporate open-ended questions in order to capture accurate reflections of the employees’ preferences, expectations, and intents.”

With the U.S. unemployment rate at 4.4 percent as of April 2017, the importance of connecting with employees and addressing issues that may drive them away cannot be stressed enough. There are talent gaps across many verticals, and the odds of your workers walking out of your door and straight into another job are currently very high. Instead of being the business that workers run away from, be the company that they are running toward.

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