Six Reasons Why Companies Lose Their Best Employees

New Yorker cartoon - On Mondays he delivers fresh personnel and on Friday he picks up the empties

Ask the leaders of almost any successful organization and they'll tell you that their key employees are among their most valued assets.

Unfortunately, many of them will leave. All too often, the reasons for their departure are avoidable.

Here are some reasons why companies lose their best employees and what can be done—today—to help you reduce the risk of it happening to you.

6 reasons companies lose employees

1. Lack of a Clear Vision

Employees want to feel passionate and excited about the business they work for. A clear and well-communicated vision is imperative. If an organization fails to communicate its goals employees can soon lose drive and direction. If there is an absence of vision, people may look for inspiration in a different organization.

2. The Performance Review Fallacy

Valuable employees want to know that they are valued. They want to know that their efforts are worthwhile. And if they aren't doing something correctly, they'd like to know that, too. Yet, all too often, employees feel that they are left in the dark on these issues. Then they get hit with something surprising at the annual performance review.

Let's face it: the annual performance review is a thing of the past, and it's time to throw it on the junk heap of history. Good managers are good communicators. They constantly solicit the opinions of their staff and are open with feedback. This isn't just good management; it's also good personal conduct that shows people you care about them.

If you do need to continue having annual performance reviews, then you should have one goal at every review you conduct: there should never, ever, be anything in the review that is a surprise to the employee.

3. Tailoring Talent to Tasks

One of the ways to ensure key employees stick around is to make sure they are happy in their work. A key to happiness is to have them working on projects which match their talents and their desires. Many times, people are viewed a merely a resource (does the term "human resources" ring a bell?) that is slotted into a project slot based on availability. Over the long term, this can lead to job dissatisfaction. Part of the ongoing dialogue with your employees should focus on whether both parties feel their talents are being put to best use.

Kanban board

Kanban boards are a simple, effective way to manage tasks.

4. Letting Work Infringe on Personal Time

Work fatigue is becoming a bigger issue for many white-collar workers, especially with technological advances. Sometimes, workers may feel that it is not enough to put in eight or more hours at the office. They are then subjected to work-related phone calls or emails at night and even on weekends. Or they must take business trips in which flights are made on weekend days without any PTO days given to offset them. Keeping people happy and productive is easier when they are given ample time to relax and get away from work.

5. Only Giving Negative Feedback

It's easy to be critical when people make mistakes. In fact, it's good management to reprimand unwanted behavior as soon as possible. But this can't be the only feedback people receive, or they'll become unhappy. Make sure that positive feedback is also given. Some simple feedback rules:

Negative feedback should be given immediately and in private. Positive feedback can be given any time, preferably while the news is still relatively fresh, and in public.

6. Lies, Lies, Lies

This should really be listed as item number one. No one wants to be lied to, but organizations frequently lie to their people. According to Dominque Rodgers, contributing author at, here are three big ones:

  • "We promote work-life balance." See item number 4. If you are requiring people to work long hours, take work home, and lose sleep over ridiculous scheduling, you aren't promoting work-life balance.
  • "If we do as well as we project, everyone will receive an annual bonus." Dangling a carrot as an incentive is one thing, but if no one ever gets to taste it, there will be animosity. Don't promise, or even dangle, what you don't reasonably expect to deliver.
  • "We will give you an opportunity to advance your career in our company." Unless you can lay out specific goals, milestones, and rewards, it's best not to offer vague promises such as this.

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