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5 reasons why your best talent quits

Written by Penny van Puymbroeck on 9 March 2017 for Clients

You need some new talent. And you want to give fresh graduates a chance to kick-start their career at your company.

You spend valuable time and energy finding exactly the right person for the job. You sign the contract and head off to a great start.

But before the first year is over… she knocks on your door and tells you she’s decided to move on.

And you never saw it coming!

How does this happen?

From my personal experience with coaching over 300 young and promising talents, I see five common problems in organisations that make young professionals think about quitting.

Here they are. Remember, you don’t need all five to lose a top talent — one can be enough.

1. No career prospects

Nobody likes the idea of being in a dead-end street in their career. Especially millennials, who are ambitious and like to take control.

High performers are usually aware of their talent and potential. And they are not going to let that talent go to waste. They also want to keep learning.

That’s why smart organisations take young talents’ career prospects seriously. They discuss their ambitions and interests, and involve them in creating a long-term plan for their careers (like our START SMART programme).

Do you have to map out a worker’s career in detail from the beginning? Not really. It’s smarter to have regular talks over what would be the next logical step, thus helping his/her career ‘unfold’ over time. Help him/her clearly formulate and realise their ambitions.

2. No attractive company culture

Most Gen Y’ers wish to belong to something bigger, something in line with their values. In my experience, they are almost always looking for a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, a sense of humanity and a feeling of openness.

Another important factor is the ‘why’ of your company. Why do you do what you do? (More about company culture here).

Millennials do not view their work as a way of getting paid every month. They want to be part of something they can be proud of.

These aspects constitute your company culture. And if your organisation fails to have a strong culture, you risk alienating young talent and driving them away.

3. Not feeling recognised

Everybody likes to feel recognised. We’ve seen that generation Y isn’t driven by money alone. Salary and benefits should match the standards. But think further than material rewards.

There are plenty of other ways to make your young talent feel recognised. A few ideas that I’ve seen work:

  • let a team organise their own team event, paid for by the company
  • create opportunities for employees to speak their minds about their work, and act on their input
  • take your team out on a mini-vacation
  • give people opportunities to lead a new project
  • give people public recognition, e.g. in the company newsletter
  • and even simple words of appreciation.

Remember that each individual has his/her own ‘buttons’ when it comes to feeling recognised. Try to take individual preferences in account.

4. Bad people management

There’s a saying: “People don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers”. And indeed, how many times have you heard someone complain that they can’t stand their boss?

Management style does in fact have a huge influence on a worker’s appreciation of the job. This goes even more for young talent, because they still need to be guided and coached towards self-reliance.

So why does bad management exist? Simple: many organisations reward the best performers with a promotion to a management position, without considering their actual management skills. They become ‘spreadsheet managers’.

Leading people is a skill in its own right and requires training. Organisations that acknowledge this will see immediate improvements in employee turnover. Not to mention in the entire organisation’s performance.

5. Broken promises

Top talent is scarce. And sadly, I’ve seen organisations use questionable tactics to attract high potentials.

They promise all the things millennials are looking for. Personal and professional growth. Fun events. A solid company culture. Career prospects.

But when the honeymoon is over, the organisation doesn’t deliver. Like a sly salesman, they’ve talked the talent into signing and then never deliver on their promises.

Or management just forgets. Or they decide to shift their priorities.

Don’t let this happen to you — it’s a horrible start of an employer-worker relationship.

What can you improve and how will you do it?

I have a challenge for you.

Now that you’ve seen the five most important reasons why young talent quits, ask yourself:

“Which is the number one reason why people quit in my company?”

Becoming conscious of the problem is the first step to solving it.

Then ask yourself:

Is my company a ‘learning organisation’ that is able to change this habit for the better?

If the answer is yes, congratulations. You just made your first step towards getting your no.1 reason to quit out of the way, which will eventually make a huge difference.

Good luck!

Written by Penny van Puymbroeck Business Development Manager