4 reasons for high employee turnover

Change is inevitable, but it can be costly for your business. Employee turnover is an element of change that directly affects your bottom line. As such, it is important to identify the motives of departing workers and devise an effective retention strategy.

Here are four of the top reasons many good employees resign:

1. They’re motivated by higher pay

No matter how much someone loves working for you and believes in your business, if they are presented with a better offer, they will likely consider leaving.

Keep tabs on what compensation is being offered by your competition and be sure you’re offering comparable benefits packages. You can also conduct an annual wage and salary survey to get insight into your employees’ outlook on their pay.

In addition to traditional “pay and benefit” compensation, some companies also opt to offer additional perks such as flexible schedules, remote work privileges, on-site fitness rooms or day care, discounts on services or travel, and employee assistance programs.

To help your employees fully appreciate how you’re rewarding them, provide each employee with an annual statement of total compensation that shows all of their wages plus any other benefit you provide translated into a dollar amount, such as:

  • Employer contributions to benefits premiums
  • Employer contributions to retirement accounts
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Stock options
  • Educational assistance
  • Adoption assistance

2. They’re not engaged

Employee engagement may sound like another corporate buzzword, but engaged employees share a number of common traits:

  • They seek out challenging work
  • They’re good at resolving and/or finding solutions to problems
  • They proactively share ideas and solutions with colleagues
  • They offer support to colleagues who are busy
  • They seek out training and development opportunities

There are many ways to boost engagement among your employees, and your approach should be based on what’s right for your company culture. Here are some engagement-boosting strategies you may want to try:

  • Keep your employees excited about what they’re doing through team-building activities.
  • Let your employees contribute in big ways when possible and highlight the impact they’re making for your company.
  • Make sure everyone knows your company’s mission, vision and values. Keep them posted in a visible spot and make sure all new employees receive a copy of them at hire.
  • Communicate with your employees regularly and have an open-door policy.
  • Share mistakes so everyone can learn from them.
  • Get down in the trenches and work side-by-side with your employees from time to time. You can learn a lot about what is really happening in your company just by staying involved.

It’s also crucial to ensure your company’s leadership is engaged. Take a proactive approach to employee relations and make sure your managers do as well. Create opportunities for your leaders to spend time together discussing goals, sharing success stories and providing feedback that reinforces your mission, vision and values.

3. They’re bored

High-performing workers need to feel that they are being challenged and are moving forward in terms of professional growth and development. Take time to meet with your employees and be proactive in discussing career and succession plans with them.

Be sure to blend in growth and development opportunities into your employees’ responsibilities when possible. No one wants to feel like they’re in a dead-end job. This could come in the form of assigning employees to a special project or putting them in an expanded role. It could also happen through building in opportunities for your workers to cross-train one another.

If these suggestions don’t seem like the right answer for your company, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the right people in the right roles?
  • Do you have too many people for the amount of work that needs to be done?
  • Do you need to reorganize?
  • Are your people getting the feedback and recognition they need?

The answers to these questions may lead you to other root causes of boredom in your workforce.

4. They’re poorly managed

A bad boss can make any employee miserable. Even if your staff is completely committed to the business, if their immediate supervisor creates an uncomfortable work environment, they may consider leaving.

Employees often voluntarily leave a job due to the relationship they have with their direct managers. As human beings we crave routine, structure and consistency. Generally, if the work relationships are positive and motivating, employees will accept average wages and mundane or even highly stressful work. Without that relationship element, employees will have a wandering eye.

Make sure brand-new managers in your organization have the tools and resources they need to succeed in their new leadership roles. Provide training and development opportunities specially designed for your supervisors. And watch out that you’re not protecting bad managers. They should always go through the same performance evaluation process as your other employees. Make sure that your employees have appropriate ways to communicate feedback about their managers. Speak to them directly and include questions about their supervisors on an annual climate survey.

By understanding the common reasons for high employee turnover, you will be better able to protect your business from a similar fate. Employees who are well-compensated, challenged, engaged and properly managed will likely be loyal, productive members of your workforce for years to come.

For more ways to build the best staff and keep them motivated, download our free e-book, How to Develop a Top-notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business.

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17 responses to “4 reasons for high employee turnover

Annonymus F

really helped me with my graduation research project! thank you

Insperity Blog

That’s awesome! Hope you get high marks! Thanks for sharing and have a great week. 🙂


In my workplace, the workload is just managed so badly that we have just hit 50% turnover in less than 6 month. Yep, 50% of the department I am from have moved on. There are many reasons for that, some part of the team are consistently overworked (no room for a single mistake, no room for continuous improvement, no room for training, no room for personal development, it is a marathon ran at the speed of a 100m race that stills requires those employees to put on overtime saturdays and sundays), other part of the teams are just not managed at all (no supervision, no adherence to standards, good practices, no training), and others are just getting by as well as they can (continuous rush mode, no individual investment, no support). In addition to that we have the best biases towards certain categories of people, a general reward for non skilled workers and the absence of work (the more you do, the more you are required to exponentially do). Management is never responsible for anything, when they mess up, it is up to the lowest employee who see the problem to take on the job of the manager and drive change from bottom to top (without the training, without the support, and with the expectation the normal job will not be impacted in any matter by any other requirements). All in all, my place is so bad they now they suck (for instance, a distributing center is being built locally which will suck all the unskilled workers, and a competitor started operating from a few miles away, sucking the experienced workers), but they take no step in reducing the issues. Instead they keep adding more burden on the remaining employees, hire unqualified temporary workers and drive down the business. It is remarkable.


Obviously, it’s important for organizations to reduce turnover rates. However, in order to reduce these rates, organizations must first understand the main reasons employees leave for other positions. Good people don’t leave good organizations—they leave poor managers!

Insperity Blog

Very true – One must determine the source of the problem to be able to solve it. And managers definitely make or break employees’ job experience. Thanks for your comments.


Hi I will just ask when was this article posted? for research purpose only. I would appreciate when you replied ASAP. Thanks in advance

Insperity Blog

Hello, No problem! This article was posted on 12/29/2015.


I like most of your books my management course in the university. I would be happy if you can send me some through my email below.

Insperity Blog

That’s great to hear! Just fill out the form on the right side of any of our blog posts to be added to our blog email list. To download our e-books and get added to that email list please fill out the form on the right hand side of any of our e-book pages (such as this one: http://bit.ly/2iW3vtP). Thank you!

Dunstan Konop

I was employed to manage one of the Non Government Organizations in my country and at the beginning of my job entry, I found out that the board of management from the organization were all illiterates. I was employed direct from my institution, in-place of the manager’s death. Therefore, I was not aware of how the organization has been managed. After some months of working I found out that most of the employees in that origination were not employed through merits but biased employment hence duties were not perform required the way I expect.
It was quite tough for me to handle the situation so as a newly recruited manager in this organization, what shall I do in this situation?.

Insperity Blog

Hi Dunstan, That does sound like a tough situation to navigate. Do you have a manager or director you can reach out to for guidance and advice on how to handle this situation? His or her input may be especially helpful, as he or she may have been in your position at some point. Also consider reaching out to your company’s HR department for assistance.

Julie D

Up until a month and a half ago, I worked at a company with a high turnover rate. The CFO would talk to me and say she wished she could figure out how to retain employees. She would have me do things for their “morale” so that they might be happier. I really wanted to tell her my take on why the turnover rate was so high, and it had nothing to do with making popcorn or baking cookies. What I would have told her would not have gone over well because she would never have admitted what the problem was, as I saw it. From my many years in the work world, I believe that people want to have some sort of “ownership” in what they do every day. When everything they do is micro-managed, it makes for unhappy people. In the end, I suffered the same fate and left the company. After talking to others who had also quit from this company, their stories were extremely similar so, I know it wasn’t just my imagination. Why hire good people and then stand over and constantly tell them how to act, talk, work or think? If a boss has all this time to do this, then they could save a lot of money by just doing the work themselves.

Insperity Blog

Thanks for sharing, Julie. I’m sorry for your disappointing experience with your past company, but it seems that you were able to move forward from the situation with more experience and wisdom, both of which will serve you well in your career.

dereje A.


Insperity Blog

You’re welcome 🙂 Thank you for reading!


The most important is a Bad Boss, Poorly managed operations. This comes with excessive micro management, unrealistic executive decisions, careless task requests. I recently got employed by a 16 yrs old company with only 4 executive staff employees. CEO,COO, CFO and a Manager. All related by marriage. Their oldest employee is a year in. For the last 2 yrs they have had turnovers based on a toxic work environment.

Insperity Blog

Those are indeed contributing factors that others can likely relate to. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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