13 Ways to Lose Your Best Employees

13 Ways to lose your best employees (and there are probably 100 more!). If you want to avoid it at all costs, read this article.

Employee Experience
Work environment

Cindy Boisvert

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


In case you haven’t heard, your employees are your best asset. Without them, your company would never have gotten to where it is today, Or worse, it simply wouldn’t exist! You invest so much time and effort in trying to recruit the best out there, you can’t ignore their needs to make sure they are happy and want to stay in your company! Otherwise, you’re back to square one.

Read these 13 ways to lose your best employee to avoid having them running out the door and put their strengths to good use in another company.

1. Your organization has no onboarding strategy

Losing your best employees is something you should consider from Day 1. If you have no onboarding strategy, that gem you just hired might start wondering “what did I get myself into?!” Your hiring process already takes a lot of time and energy, so imagine if you had to do it all over again in a few weeks/months just because you couldn’t get your onboarding in check.

Retaining your employees starts with the right onboarding process when welcoming a new employee on your team. Make sure yours is bang on!

2- You NEVER listen to your employees

What good is there to having meetings involving your employees, asking for advice on a certain project, asking what could be improved in the company, if you’ll just end up doing it your way? Sure, as a manager, you need to be able to make a decision and settle matters, but when your employees speak up (especially if YOU ask them to), make an attempt to listen!

3- You divide and conquer within your working teams

Synergy within working teams is crucial, but it’s also essential among all of the teams within the organization. Disagreements between teams, departments, or business units can be detrimental not only to your employees’ motivation and morale, but to the business as a whole. So, instead of a divide-and-conquer approach, try improving interdepartmental communication and collaboration. And you should start right away!

4- You always pinpoint the negative

Not in a constructive way, but simply because you are either never satisfied, or just appreciate getting the last word for the sake of getting it. And I’ve seen managers who will always find the negative in your work.

You will end up driving your employees away if you never recognize the positive or don’t show enough empathy when criticizing their work (especially with your employees who are more sensitive).

5- You don’t treat your employees fairly

Fairly. Not necessarily equally. If you treated them all equally, then no one would need wage scales, yearly reviews, nor precise objectives per person/team. In fact, treating your employees equally can be the complete opposite of fairly.

You hire different people, who have different skills, backgrounds, potential, attitudes and aspirations. Treating them fairly means to be able to recognize those aspects and provide them with fair compensation, benefits and recognition.

You cannot lose by being fair. You can and will lose a lot by painting everyone the same.

– Roxi Hewertson, CEO of Highland Consulting Group

6- You don’t have a competitive offer

It’s not only about salary. It’s about being fair and having a total compensation package that is competitive.

More and more people nowadays will leave their jobs because they feel like they could get more elsewhere. If they think they are worth more and know that there is another company that can offer them that, then there’s a good chance they’ll consider it.

If you’re currently thinking “That’s great, but I just don’t have the budget to give a raise to every single employee who threatens to leave”, I’ll say three things:

  • If they have to threaten you to get a more competitive offer, they might already be long gone. Losing your best employees doesn’t always mean having them quit; demotivation, loss of interest, and presenteeism are all also signs you’ve lost an employee.
  • Giving someone money just because they say they’re leaving is what I like to call “remediation HR” . If they have to come forward with it and you just agree to give it to them, you’ll have them think you’ve been underpaying them for the longest time.
  • I DID say it was NOT just about the money! Some things are free and are worth more than money to your employees. There are tons of incredible perks you can offer employees that won’t break the bank.

7- Make them swim against the current and you will lose your best employees

Even if you do it unconsciously, pushing your employees to do things they are not naturally built to do will eventually push them away.

If you are asking an anxious and sensitive introvert to adopt outbound approaches, or constantly network to meet with new people, try to build your prospects pipeline, while getting rejected about 95% of the time in the process, well, that might not be the greatest of ideas!

Give that same objective to someone who is results-oriented, loves a good challenge, is an extrovert by nature and is highly tolerant to stress and rejection, and you’ll have a much better chance of success!

Capitalizing on your employees’ natural strengths will not only be good for your business (because you’ll achieve more and better results), but you’ll also ensure you get to keep those awesome employees of yours happy and motivated. Again, may I remind you that losing your best employees doesn’t just mean them quitting. Don’t forget about the terrible effects of pushing someone to the edge by requiring them to constantly go against the grain!

8- You Micromanage them (yuck!)

You might not want to do it. You might not think you do it. But you might just indeed be doing it. Micromanagement will make you lose your best employees, especially if your workforce is composed of Millennials.

There are so many ways to follow-up and monitor the work of your employees without frustrating your employees:

  • Open communication
  • Weekly sprint plannings
  • Employee empowerment
  • Simply having a little faith

Yes, you CAN hold your team accountable without micromanaging.

9 – You have no recognition towards them, whatsoever

Recognizing your employees sometimes takes more than just a tap on the back, or a positive comment at the yearly review. If your employees don’t feel like they are being recognized (especially those who are more inclined towards recognition on their personality profile), you will eventually lose them.

Plan your employee recognition programs accordingly, present it to them, make them know that they are indeed recognized for all the hard work they put in.

10 – You won’t let them grow

If you don’t give them opportunity to grow, you will eventually lose your best employees! And by growth, I don’t just mean up the promotional ladder, but as professional human beings as well.

Challenge them, give them opportunities to become better, make them feel like they are part of your company’s success… Their perception of growth opportunities will determine how engaged they are. And we all know that engaged employees are more likely to stay, don’t we?

11- You are simply a horrendous leader

And you might not even know that you’re not a good leader! But your employees certainly do.

If they don’t embark on your journey, if they don’t feel motivated to complete the work they are asked to do, or if you can’t pinpoint the differences between a boss and a leader, then you’ve got some work to do.

FYI: If you have to SAY you’re a leader, you probably aren’t one.

12 – Don’t ask for their feedback

Or worse. You ask for it (because that’s just good practice, after all) and then don’t take it into consideration.

Big no-no!

Your employees should have a voice, just like you get to have one. They are the ones normally dealing with clients’ suggestions (and complaints), working hands-on on your projects, and know everything there is to know about your day-to-day operations. What i’m trying to say is: your employees have valuable insight regarding your business, so listen to them and take their feedback seriously!

13 – Don’t have fun at all

Sure, work is meant to be a professional environment where you focus on getting things done. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it without a little fun! Remember that your employees typically spend more time at work than they do at home… if you don’t do everything in your power to make your workplace a little more fun, you must expect your employees to be tempted to say farewell.

Organize lunches, set up a team building activity, encourage social activities, or just surprise them!

What’s life without a little fun?

What have you done in the past when you’ve lost your best employees?

I know this article might have some of you thinking “We are not silly. We know how drastic these things are”. And I know. But sometimes, in the heat of things, people don’t realize that the little things they do might have greater repercussions in the long run. And sure, some employees will still leave despite you doing everything in your power from day one to keep them.

Bottom line is: always be conscious of your everyday actions and get to know the people who work for (or with) you. You might think you know what every employee wants… until they tell you in their exit interviews. Get to know your employees. Learn how they are built. And make sure you avoid these 13 aspects at all costs if you want to keep your best employees happy, performing and loyal.

How have you reacted in the past when one of your best employees left?

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