It's Your Business to Know Why Employees Leave

The average cost of replacing an employee is 20 percent of the person's annual salary. Here's how can you keep these costs down

Every good manager knows that employee turnover adversely affects bottom line profitability.  Turnover costs include productivity losses during recruiting and lost work while a position is vacant, new employee setup, orientation, and most importantly training.

Corporate case studies found that for jobs paying less than $50,000 per year, the average cost of replacing an employee amounts to 20 percent of the person's annual salary. And although it may not be possible to totally eliminate turnover and the costs associated with it, knowing why good people leave can certainly go a long way in keeping these costs to a minimum.

There is good news for employers in that in this economy more people are holding onto their jobs. The bad news is that top performers, having more skills and confidence, even in a struggling economy, are the ones most likely to leave. When all things are equal, good employees will leave for small pay raises, shorter commutes, or improved benefits. Make it your mission to make sure things are not equal. Even if you cannot match what others can offer, make up for it in other ways; an additional personal day off, or flexibility of hours are some examples of incentives employees truly appreciate.

We just don’t get along

Most managers make an honest effort to hire the right person and many work enthusiastically at training them to ensure competency and proficiency. All too often, the emphasis is placed on technical knowledge of how to perform the job, and not on the “softer” people skills. Assembling a team with similar core values, views, and desired goals results in everyone working together to create compatibility and a shared vision and mission within the corporate culture. This is a critical step in reducing turnover. If you really want to fine-tune this concept, do a little research on personality types and characteristics. Pairing together the correct personality type for the job description and role within the team ensures personal success for both the employee and the team. 

This is not what I expected

Many workers quit a job in the first six months because they have unrealistic expectations about the job, the workplace environment, the culture, or the skills necessary to perform successfully. As an employer it is important to remember that the interviewing process is a two-way street. You may be evaluating the candidate to determine if they are the right fit for the job and the company, but in doing so you have a responsibility to provide a realistic preview of the job, its demands, the skills required to be successful, and a true picture of the company culture. By communicating in this way, you have the opportunity to change any inappropriate expectation that the candidate may have prior to the interview. This is your best insurance against the employee later feeling that the job isn’t worth what you are paying, or the job or workplace is not what was expected.

The employee is just not on the right seat on the bus

Sometimes there is a mismatch between the job and the person doing the job; in other words, you have the right people on the bus, but they are in the wrong seats! For instance, a mechanic may be top at his or her game. As a star player you promote them to manager or supervisor. If the employee has no people skills or manager skills, and does not know how to hire and fire people they may fail miserably at the new position.

You now have two options; you can train them to be a better manager, or move them to a new seat on your bus. To further illustrate this point, you would not want to place a software code writer in a sales position in the field calling on prospects. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend reading the book “Good to Great” by James C. Collins, which expounds on this topic.

This job isn’t going anywhere

While 85 percent of employees say opportunity and growth are vital for their career happiness, less than 50 percent say their employers are providing it. Being blocked from moving laterally or across job functions is certainly a reason for good folks to leave. Training and career advancement are key for many employees who need to feel they are making progress and moving forward in their career.

No one ever listens to us

Communication is the key; we all know this and hear it often. The question is do we put it into practice? A complaint frequently heard is …” I never get to talk with anyone; I don’t feel like they would listen anyway. And if they did … they won’t do anything.” Clear, open, concise communication is essential to any relationship. If we don’t feel like what we say is respected and taken to heart, we begin to question how we could possibly be of value to the organization.

It is important for there to be a synergy and communication between management and frontline employees, or a lack of trust and confidence in senior leaders may develop. It is a known fact that employees with high trust levels significantly outperform those with low trust levels. So as an employer or manager, give the gift of communication, time, and availability by interacting daily in positive ways with employees. Build trust by being open with information, listening, and acting on their concerns. You will be amazed as you watch your retention factor rise.

It seems like no one cares what happens

If there is too much ”Just get it done” and not enough "Let’s work together to get it done,” the employee is likely to feel unappreciated, “used,” and like no one cares. Rules and regulations, red tape, and rigid policies, especially without any understanding of why they exist, can prevent good employees from performing at optimal levels. The result is they would rather quit and go do most anything else!

Dynamic employees need to be given latitude to get the job done safely while meeting and satisfying customer requests. When we take the customer out of our center of focus and concentrate on what is best for us or the company, the result will always be dissatisfactory service to our customers. Ask your employees what they need to help them do their job more effectively and what would improve the workplace. Then listen to their ideas and implement as many of their suggestions as possible.

We are asked to do things no one has ever shown us how to do

One of the leading causes of accidents and incidents is people performing tasks they were never trained to do, or even worse … incorrectly trained. Initial training and orientation along with recurrent training not only promote a safety culture, but go a long way toward making employees feel valued. Often we hire too late, needing an additional “body” as quickly as possible, and push a new employee to be productive long before they are truly “ready” or have been trained to proficiency. Training, coaching, and feedback on a continual basis is essential for safety, productivity, doing it right the first time, and good customer service; not to mention it keeps the costs associated with rework to a minimum. Asking folks to do tasks they were not trained to do results in accidents, injuries, and frustration on the part of the employee. It also clearly sets the employee up for failure.

Today’s marketplace is truly more competitive than ever before. Our employees have become an enormous competitive edge. They become more valuable over time if we just do our part in providing the tools, resources, and support they need to be their best.


DeborahAnn Cavalcante earned her Masters in Aeronautical Science, with a specialization in Safety Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, FL, and her Bachelor of Science from VA Tech in Business and Risk Management.

DeborahAnn Cavalcante leads Diversified Aviation Consulting (DAC) and along with her associates has firsthand experience in air carrier operations, private charter aircraft, general aviation operations, military/civilian interface, FBO management, maintenance repair station training, safety training, human factors training, and customer service training. For more information on DAC visit







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