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Six Reasons Why Your Best Employees Leave—And How You Can Prevent It

A man (employee) in a suit on a cell phone with a stressed look on his face.

You have a terrific employee on staff. They shine in their work and commitment to the company—or so you thought. Until the day they ask to speak to you behind closed doors and tender their resignation. Your stomach sinks. Of course, your first question is why?

The answer most likely lies within. For some reason, that employee didn’t feel engaged. Here’s why that happens, and how you can avoid it.

1. Employees Don’t Feel a Sense of Purpose
“Good leaders organize and align people around what the team needs to do,” said Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin. “Great leaders motivate and inspire people with why they’re doing it…and that’s the key to achieving something truly transformational.”

Research has shown that there is a consistent relationship between a company’s profitability, productivity and how much employees believe in its purpose and mission. Employees want to know that their work has a point.

2. They Aren’t Given the Opportunity to Develop
A study in Harvard Business Review looked at why top performers are job-hunting, and they found that a lack of development opportunities was one crucial reason. Providing the opportunity to learn and advance can go a long way towards long-term motivation.

3. They Feel Overworked
Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.

4. They Don’t Reward Good Work
Don’t underestimate the power of a pat on the back. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard. Find out what makes your employees feel good and then do it.

5. They Don’t Honor Their Commitments
Making promises to employees is a great thing to do—as long as you keep those promises. When you uphold a commitment, you become a superstar in your employees’ eyes. But if you don’t, you show yourself as not being trustworthy and honorable. That’s now how you want to show yourself. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

6. They Fail to Engage Their Creativity
Ultra-talented employees want to improve everything they work on. If you don’t allow them to do this, it’s going to make them hate their jobs. That’s what’s going to make them walk out the door.

It all boils down to engagement. Keep your employees engaged. You hired them because they had skills you needed. Allow them to use and develop those skills and more. That will keep them around over the long haul.