group of 5 happy employees

How to Keep Your Best Employees

Stop losing your best employees

As a recruiter, I speak to hundreds of people looking to change jobs every month.  Based on thousands of conversations, patterns emerge.  Happy employees generally don’t look for new jobs, but you can keep your best employees and avoid the costs and business disruptions caused by them quitting.

Most employees find new jobs because of five common, but fixable reasons.

  • Lack of professional growth
  • Change in work-from-home policy
  • Bad interviewing leads to a bad hire
  • Change in compensation plans
  • Perceived company instability

As a rule, these can be solved through a culture of open communication, valuing employees (including their work-home balance) and providing career growth opportunities.

Dig Deeper

The number one reason I hear for people looking for another job is that they feel like they have a lack of professional or personal growth at their current job. And this can happen even with people who haven’t been with the company for very long. If they see that employees are stagnant in their current positions and there’s no room for advancement, they will start looking. So get out in front of this by making sure that career planning is part of your onboarding process & annual reviews.  You can also try things like cross-training programs where you give employees the opportunity to try out other functions or areas of the business periodically. Not only does that give them a bigger picture of the company but it also builds potential future managers.


The second reason I hear, post-COVID, is there’s a disconnect between an employee’s desire to work remotely or hybrid and the company’s requirements to return to the office. Workers today, especially younger ones, are able to be productive remotely and they seek out those opportunities that give them shorter commutes and puts more time back into their pocket for family, friends etc. Desirable companies need to find ways to accommodate remote work and hybrid schedules.


The third most common reason I hear for dissatisfaction is that “the job described in the interview was very different from the actual job”.  It is so important to give interviewing candidates a realistic set of expectations.  You can describe a “day in the life” or describe what they would be expected to accomplish to receive an outstanding review.  But whatever you do, make sure that it is clear what is expected of them when they start work for you.


The next reason is a change in the compensation plan or uncompetitive pay, more commonly for sales professionals, but it happens in other areas too.  And it is always because their compensation has been reduced, either by design or as an unintended consequence of trying to influence certain behaviors.  Changes to the compensation plan might be unavoidable, but if it is presented in a positive way with an understanding on how they can maintain their current income, the impact can be minimized. If you have to reduce commissions or salary, find something you can give them back, like forgiving a draw, more work-from-home time, or an earlier performance review.


The final reason falls into “company instability” or “financial worries” buckets.  Musical chairs in management erodes the confidence of employees.  Missing financial or sales targets does the same.  Skilled people will take those as cues to start looking for a new job to get out in front of possible layoffs.  Combat this with effective communication with employees about the reasons for changes and empathy for what employees could be thinking about the current company situation.  Treating people like they are a part of the solution to any challenges builds commitment and loyalty.


Companies that are the easiest to recruit for have a culture of promoting open communication, valuing employees (including their work-home balance) and providing career growth opportunities.  Building those values into your company is the best way to keep recruiters on the doorstep and create loyal and committed employees.

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