Why employees quit—and how to retain them

Why good employees quit

It’s every leader’s worst nightmare: You have an employee who puts in the effort and produces great work. This is a person you can depend on—one who actively makes your team and organization better.

Then, one morning, you get a letter in your inbox. It’s their two weeks’ notice.

Turnover is inevitable in any industry. For employees, this can even be a healthy thing, as it means they’re moving to roles where they’ll be happier, more engaged, and more productive. But if enough people quit, organizations won’t be able to fill seats fast enough to get work done. Believe it or not, this may happen more than you realize.

The Great Resignation is the latest example of the dangers of attrition. At first, it seemed to be unique to the service sector, as workers in retail and food service quit their jobs due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns. But more industries are feeling the brunt of The Great Resignation—and the aftershocks could be severe.

According to The 2021 People Management Report, 48% of employees have thought about changing careers in the past 12 months. Of those who have considered changing careers, 57% are thinking of leaving their jobs in the next year.

So, why are people quitting? The report polled nearly 2,000 employees across 15+ industries to uncover the root causes. While there are many factors at play, almost all stem from one thing: psychological safety. 

Try for yourself: Learn more about the main factors driving The Great Resignation in the interactive below.

One thing you’ll note above: COVID-19 is nowhere to be found. While the pandemic undoubtedly had effects on employee job sentiment, those effects were all tied to psychological health concerns, rather than physical ones. Case in point: When asked whether they “feel comfortable” working in-person post-COVID, 79% of respondents said yes. This held true even in the industries most susceptible to the virus, such as retail and food services.

In the next lessons, we’ll explore why psychological safety is so critical to employee retention—and what you can do to build that level of safety in your organization.

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