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Reasons Why Your Best Employees Leave You

Rahul Pandita
Keeping the best employees from jumping ship is one of the most crucial tasks for an organization. There are numerous factors that play a part in making top employees leave an organization, and in this story, we will elucidate these factors.
What Employees Think
According to a survey, more than 70% of employees feel that they are not being appreciated for their work.
Employee turnover is a major concern for most managers, as according to the data given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure of an employee in America is a mere one and a half years. Companies around the world face the daunting prospect of losing their best employees.
This problem is compounded in case of small enterprises, as the performance of the company is largely dependent on few top performers. There are varied reasons why your best employees leave you, but what is surprising is that, not many of them leave because of compensation-related issues.
Usually, it is thought that employees leave an organization because they are offered a better salary by other companies. However, the reality is that most employees leave because of other non-monetary reasons, such as lack of appreciation and career advancement.

Why Top Performers Leave

Lack of Encouragement

Top performers are different from your average employees. They thrive when they are applauded for their work. If a manager fails to recognize the efforts of its star performers, there is a high possibility that they will feel dejected and demoralized.
As they are highly skilled, they do not face any hassles in getting a new job; therefore, instead of being stuck in a job that doesn't appreciate them for their efforts, they decide to turn things over by exploring new opportunities for themselves.

Lack of Vision in an Organization

It is very important for a company to share its mission statement with its employees. Average employees are, more or less, happy to work in an organization that gives them a paycheck with which they can pay their monthly bills.
They are not really interested in knowing where the company wants to be in the next five years, because they themselves don't have any firm career plans. Top performers, on the other hand, are more concerned with the growth of a company and their role in it.
When they realize that a company is not certain about its vision, or does not deem it important to share it with its employees, there is a high possibility that they will take their skills to another company which has a holistic vision and approach towards meeting its objectives.

Intolerance Towards Mediocrity

The difference between a top performer and an average performer is that the former shies away from mediocrity. The performers in any company have certain common traits, such as being highly motivated, confident, decisive, etc.
Performers work to the best of their capability when they are given challenging assignments frequently. They cannot function fully in an organization where mediocrity is the norm. This is one of the primary reasons many companies lose out on their best talent despite spending bucketload of money on them.

Rigid Organizational Structure

Top performers feel choked in a rigid and inflexible company. It is well-known that most innovative ideas arise when employees are given a free hand to work. If the top performers feel that they are not being given enough opportunities to present their ideas, and it is inevitable that they will look elsewhere to fulfill their objectives.

Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities

Top performers aren't merely content with an annual hike in salary. If you make them to do the same job over and over again without helping them in learning new skills, there is a high possibility that they will jump ship.
Top performers look at their careers as a journey in continuum. If they feel that they are stuck at one position without learning anything new, there is a likelihood that they will look for a different role in another company.

Issues with Reporting Managers/Supervisor

It is well-known that employees often leave a job because their immediate managers are not able to lead them effectively. It holds true for top performers as well.
If a manager is not able to lead from the front and show exemplary behavior, it is highly unlikely that the top performers of a company will take it lying down. It is the prerogative of a manager to sort out any existing issues with top performers before it is too late.

False Promises

In a desperate attempt to keep the top performers from leaving, many managers end up making hollow promises and commitments. Telling your top performers that they will have new projects, or they will be handling a team in a couple of months, works only when you actually have these plans in mind.
Sooner or later, they will realize that you took them for a ride, and this time around, they wouldn't even think twice before putting down their papers. Bottom line - be honest and candid with your top performers and never make false promises to them.

Poor Compensation Package

We started off this article by emphasizing that there are other factors apart from compensation issues that make top performers quit their job. However, it doesn't mean that compensation doesn't play a part in employee turnover.
If your top performers are not being paid in accordance with the industry standards, there is a high possibility that they will be lured by a high-paying job with another company.
Being abreast about the compensation trends in your industry is very important as there are numerous companies who engage in headhunting, and it won't be long before you come to know that your best guy is now working for your arch-rival.


Retaining your best employees is crucial for your business as the level of expertise they bring along is difficult to be replaced. There are numerous ways in which you can try to work towards keeping your best employees from leaving.Let us take a look at some of these tips.
  • Invest time and effort in providing training to your employees.
  • Make it a point to have a reward and recognition policy so that your best employees feel that they have been appreciated for their work.
  • Promote the idea of having an open and honest discussion with your employees. If you face issues in doing this, get the HR manager in picture.
  • Engage top performers by giving them leadership roles and new projects. However, while doing so, keep in mind that they are not overburdened.
  • Ensure that the compensation package of your top performers is as per industry standards. If possible, have an incentive structure in place, which is fair to those who put in the extra effort.