Shocking managers may be key to why top workers leave

by 19 Oct 2009

Employers wondering why some of their good employees are leaving should look at the behaviour of their managers, a Deakin University researcher has said.

The departures of many valued employees could be avoided if companies took the time to evaluate the relationship between the employee and their manager and develop the interpersonal competencies of their senior staff, according to Dr John McWilliams from Deakin’s Business School.

Williams interviewed 62 technology workers who had voluntarily left their jobs and examined the events which precipitated the person’s decision to quit – particularly the final shock or jarring event which had finally led to their resignation.

“The first and largest source of shocks was the behaviour of managers,” McWilliams said. “This ranged from controlling behaviour to a lack of social awareness.”

Some shock factors included employees not being paid for overtime despite being expected to do extra hours, and being berated for not having their mobile switched on during personal leave.

Another source of shock was calls from headhunters.

“Many people reported regular ‘testing’ approaches from competitors and customers as a matter of course,” said McWilliams. “For many, the approach by the headhunter was the final resolution of an accumulation of dissatisfaction.”

Although estimates vary depending on industry, departures generally cost business 1.5 to 2.5 times the person’s annual salary, he said.

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