Why Highly-Valued Employees Leave (and How to Prevent It)

Turnover is an inevitable part of business, but when employees leave, especially when they’re high performers, it can take a toll on your company. Not only is it expensive to onboard new hires, but sometimes backfilling the position of a high-value employee can take two to three people. When it comes to managing an effective business, retaining your strong talent is more important than ever. In any organization, long-term retention takes effort, dedication, and time—especially when the reasons for leaving vary from employee to employee. While some say “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers,” we’ve seen that the desire to plan an exit strategy sometimes runs deeper than just someone’s relationship with their superior.

Often times, employees leave a company when they no longer feel connected to it.
“Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.” -  Brené Brown
Disconnected and disengaged employees are regularly the ones who are looking to move on to a new company. As thought leader Simon Sinek states, disconnect often happens when your employee’s personal values no longer match up to the values of your company. While an inexperienced boss can lead to a sense of disconnection, it could also come from a mix of many different scenarios like a shift in the company culture or a change in the course of their professional development. How do you prevent this employee disengagement? As a manager, how do you foster a sense of connection between your employees and their workplace?

Clarify why.

What’s your mission, both as a company and as a leader of your team? Many organizational leaders struggle to answer this. It’s easy to say what you do as a company and how you work, but can you truly explain why your company exists and what drives the passion to keep it moving forward? As Simon Sinek put it, it starts with “the why”. Why do you come to work every day? Why do you do the work you do? Build an emotional connection with your employees by explaining the why behind what motivates you and your company.

Not only does this clarification help retain employees that share the same values, but it also attracts talent that feels strongly connected to that purpose. While what your organization does is important for all employees to understand, a clearly defined company vision and mission are the tools that truly inspire them. When your team has a purpose for coming to work, they feel more engaged, connected, and hopeful for the future.

Work to bring your mission to life.

Clarifying and communicating your mission is just the first step—the challenging part is bringing that mission to life within your organization. Once you have determined your mission as a company (or your own personal mission as a manager) think about the processes and behaviors that you currently have in place. What no longer aligns with your mission? For example, if your company values diversity and inclusion, your team may want to consider new ways to expand your hiring processes to reach a wider range of talent from different backgrounds or think about implementing training programs to educate employees to experience different ways of thinking. When you have a strong mission as a driving force, bringing it to life in the way your organization operates and approaches work is what makes it tangible and real for your employees.

Lead with vulnerability.

Brené Brown says that vulnerability is what sparks innovation, creativity, authenticity, and accountability. It drives purpose and makes meaningful connections. As a leader, you can connect with your employees by being open and vulnerable with them. Be transparent about your goals, and discuss their long-term dreams. Talk about times when you failed and how valuable that failure was to learning.  Admit when you’re wrong and let them know that they are needed and valued. Ask for their feedback – we can all learn a little something from each other and bosses are no exception. Little changes in your own behaviors go a long way to build a strong connection over time.

An experienced recruiter can be your partner in creating clarity around your company’s mission and what your job candidates value. Interested in finding top talent that is aligned with what your company believes? Contact VanderHouwen today.