How to stop employees from quitting

'Know your employees well – and when I say well, I mean really well'

How to stop employees from quitting

Australian employers need to be worried. Despite a slowing economy and global uncertainty around the Russian-Ukraine war and a cold war escalating between China and America, the average worker is still seeking greener pastures.

In a survey amongst 1,003 Australians, LinkedIn found that 59% are planning on changing employers this year and 56% said they are confident that they can land on a new job.

The report also found that 66% of employees feel they are overworked and undervalued, while 27% are working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities.

The question begs, what can employers do to keep their employees from walking out the door?

The key to keeping employees happy

Achieving contentment in the workplace is a challenge for any employer, but there are steps each company can take to increase the likelihood that employees won’t be actively searching for another job soon after they join.

“Know your employees well and when I say well, I mean really well,” Roxanne Calder, founder of recruitment agency ES10, said.

“Understand their key motivators and desires as well as what external pressures they might have going on in their lives. Have compassion, understanding and patience with the workloads employees are bearing now and the increased stresses of upskilling and learning required in an ever-changing environment.”

Employers also need to provide a psychologically safe environment for employees to learn, fail and make mistakes, with a strong understanding of the team dynamics, she said.

“Team and emotional bonds make it hard to quit. I advocate the usage of stay interviews instead of exit interviews. Asking your employees why they enjoy their job provokes a psychological pull and reinforcement.”

That doesn’t mean employees won’t look elsewhere, but if you are creating a culture of openness, forgiveness and allowing employees to express their feelings, state their desires, while allowing autonomy in roles, it will give employees more confidence.

“Stopping employees from quitting is an ongoing process and doesn't begin when you start noticing something is not right or when an employee expresses dissatisfaction or intent to leave,” Calder added. “That is usually too late. To stop your employees from quitting requires attention and awareness from the first day they join you. 

The reality is that 2022 put employers on notice, she said.

“It is important employers value employees or face the new world workplace reality of the great resignation. Benefits were invented and reinvented, but the unlimited perks of 2022 have worn off, and our employees want more. To remain competitive, avoid superficial lures and focus on job purpose, tapping right into the motivators and psyche of your employees. Flexibility, a sense of freedom, and autonomy remain, but the purpose is the linchpin and defining factor.”

Perhaps the other lesson from 2022 is knowing what not to offer, said Calder.

“If your employee has announced they intend to leave, depending on the reason, it may be wise to look at what not to offer instead. Staying for the wrong reasons negatively impacts a company's culture.”

Having a sense of belonging in the workplace is "critical" for frontline worker wellbeing and retention, according to a new report from tech firm WorkDay.

Why are employees leaving?

LinkedIn data revealed that 60% of employees are happy in their current roles — but they would be encouraged to depart their current employers for more money (40%) and better work-life balance (31%).

LinkedIn's findings come after it also discovered that hiring declined by 19% year-on-year among employers.

“The majority of the time, employees feel undervalued because of how they are treated, not because of what they are told,” Kerry Howard, mental health expert, said. “Like any other relationship, we need to understand the language that tells an individual that they are valued, and this is different for everyone.”

For some employees, they want to hear the positive words that tell them that they have done a good job, she said.

“For others they will want the recognition that comes from being more connected with the leadership in high-profile meetings. It's also important to recognise that some employees live to work, whilst others work to live. If their working role is a key component of their sense of self, then it is important to match their value language in order to convey it.”

Australian businesses have been feeling the effects of talent shortages and high staff turnover where the cost to hire an employee has increased to an average of $23,000 per candidate – which is up from a typical spend of around $10K over the previous year.

Creating a culture where people want to stay

This is the key for employee harmony and greater retention. You will often hear elite athletes in team sports admitting that they could have joined a rival club for more money but stayed loyal to their current job because they loved the culture and wanted to win a premiership with their mates.

“Great workplace culture is created by inclusive leadership,” Howard added. “The challenge for most leaders is that they feel capable to resolve problems and make decisions on their own, it's why they are the leader. However, a great leader also understands that they need to be open and inclusive to enable people to follow them, rather than nipping at the heels like a sheepdog — forcing people down a particular path.”

Things move faster in cultures that engage the team in creating solutions and empower them to implement them, she said.

“Some workplace cultures need to be more flexible, responsive and agile, which suits certain personalities, while other businesses rely on consistency and replication in their service delivery — and that appeals to quite a different personality type.

“The key to good culture begins in recruitment — finding the right mix of personalities is often where the problems begin. Very few businesses take the time necessary to understand their cultural blueprint and actively recruit to balance it.”

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