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Why your employees are leaving (and what you can do to stop them)

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Despite a cost-of-living crisis, rampant inflation and news of sweeping tech layoffs, many businesses are still struggling to both recruit and retain employees.  Whilst much noise has been made about the talent shortage, the retention of current employees often gets forgotten about in the mad dash to hire new talent.

But this is a huge oversight.

As the recruitment landscape gradually shifts back towards a client-led market and businesses slow their hiring, you should be careful not to let your current employees slip away – replacing them could prove to be a costly and time-consuming endeavour, and that’s even before you consider the knock-on effects of a good employee leaving.

So why are workers leaving their jobs? And what can you do to stop them?


Let’s get the big, giant elephant in the room out of the way with first - pay. We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis after all!

“Marketers tend to know what the market rate is for their role,” Marketing Recruitment Consultant, Henry, says. “Especially if the company appears to be doing well, but nobody seems to be getting any extra money – they’ll likely start looking elsewhere to be better compensated.

The era of not being transparent about remuneration is over.  Employees are now discussing and comparing salaries – both within their company and outside of it – and the internet is making this easier.  Businesses can no longer get away with paying below market rate and even if you manage to hire somebody on that low wage, it is highly likely that you’ll be replacing them as soon as something better compensated comes along.

Whilst the current economic outlook might have you tightening your purse strings, consider regular salary reviews as an investment – not just in your people, but your business.  A high turnover can quickly become much more expensive than a well-paid workforce.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, Susannah, advises that businesses should “ensure that you are paying market rate for your employees and having regular annual salary reviews.”

Working conditions

The ‘toxic workplace’ has received a lot of attention the past few years, with many Gen Z and Millennial workers taking to TikTok and other social media platforms to call out toxic work environments.  But what exactly is a toxic workplace?

An unrealistic workload, chronic understaffing, a hostile environment, and crunch culture are just some of the toxic working conditions listed as reasons for leaving.

Over-worked and under-appreciated workers won’t hesitate to begin looking elsewhere, especially if they want more from their job than a mediocre salary and no flexibility.  Which leads us neatly into...

Lack of flexible working

Look, the world of work has changed.  If you want to attract - and more importantly retain - your employees, you need to change with it… or at least give a little. No matter what Elon Musk says!

Even if you can’t offer full hybrid working, working with your employees to give them some flexibility (E.G., different working hours to fit around the school drop-off) can go a long way in gaining some loyalty from your employees. It makes the employee feel valued and respected, as well as building trust from both parties.

Lack of Development Opportunities

“Assume that members of your team are regularly headhunted, because they probably are,” Susannah says. “Do you know where each member of your team sees themselves in 1, 2, 3 years? Are you helping them get there?”

Career development is something that, unfortunately, keeps being overlooked by employers.  And yet it’s the second-most common reason for quitting - just slightly behind compensation.

Development opportunities don’t just have to come in form of promotions, either.  Providing employees with access to learning platforms where they can be constantly improving and updating their skills, as well as pursuing their personal interests, can go a long way in helping keep your workforce engaged and, most importantly, retained.

“It’s very easy when the pressure is on to fall back into bad habits to get the job done. But you need to keep on top of good comms.  Personal development for your employees doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it means that you are more likely to keep hold of your best people,” says Associate Director and HR Recruitment Consultant, Lindsey.

Structural Changes

Structural changes within an organisation are an inevitable part of business.  However, if they are handled poorly, they can result in a haemorrhage of top talent.

“Lots of candidates I’ve spoken to want to leave after there has been an internal change in the organisation, which has led to poor management and a change in expectations,” Henry shares.

Communication and transparency will be key to managing employee retention during big periods of change.  Should an employee feel ‘in the dark’, or have their role changed significantly at the drop of a hat, with no sufficient explanation, it’s very likely that they will quickly disengage and, eventually, leave.

Business Performance and Stability

Lindsey has encountered this particular reason for being approached by candidates recently. “If the messaging and language that you’re putting out is focused on cost-cutting, change, efficiencies… then people will naturally worry about job stability.  Whilst they might not be actively jobhunting, they will be much more likely to listen to opportunities when approached.”

The current economy is turbulent, to say the least, and it can be tempting to snap the purse shut when times get tough.  Whilst some cost-efficiency is strongly advised, if you go ‘too hard’ on the messaging, you could end up making your employees think that it’s time to jump ship…

“Clarity, transparency and clear support for employees to adjust - and thrive - would be very beneficial for corporations trying to hold onto staff during and after an internal re-structure,” Henry suggests.


Culture isn’t all about working conditions, or how modern and quirky your office space is.  The people that fill that space, and the people that lead them, are a huge factor – and one often overlooked.

An undiversified workforce, offensive banter, and a social culture centered around alcohol are often touted as reasons for someone to leave a role.  All of these things can make people feel uncomfortable or even cause some distress at work, therefore something you should be striving to avoid.

An inaccessible workplace, or certain ableist behaviours, can also make for an unwelcoming environment.  Not every disability is visible, and you may unknowingly be sending signals to staff who are living with a chronic condition that they are unwelcome or a burden.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of the reasons our recruitment consultants are hearing from our candidates, either.  The decision to leave a job and a business is a very personal one to each individual, however there are certain behaviours you can bake into your culture to make your business one that your employees want to grow and build their career with. 

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Image credit: via Pexels.