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Why Employees LeaveHiring an excellent employee who is well-suited to her job is every boss’s dream. Learning curves are softer and handled more expediently. Work is more efficient and more pleasant. Everyone on the team becomes more productive, and you’re free to focus on more pressing matters like running your business. In short, your best employees make your life and job easier. But what if your most valuable employee has a wandering eye?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker stays at any given job for just over four years. That means the clock is likely ticking on your best employees whether you like it or not. However, nothing about the future is set in stone. If you’re concerned about retaining the people who keep your business in business, here is a list of reasons why greener pastures might be calling out to them and what to do about it.

The Big Picture Is Too Small

People aren’t just motivated by money and benefits packages. While a fatter paycheck can certainly lure away a good employee, a lack of vision is more likely to be the reason he went searching for something else. Your employees need to believe in the work they are doing. Regardless of the industry you work in, you need to help define the big picture for your employees, and it needs to be compelling. If you’re in insurance, make sure your employees believe in the ways you help and support your customers. If you run a small restaurant, educate your employees about why the local food you buy and serve is better for the environment, your customers and the local economy. If you operate a landscaping business, encourage your employees to notice the ways in which your work orders and beautifies the neighborhoods in your city. Craft a narrative about the work you do that will help your employees believe in your cause and desire to make it their own.

A Lack of Empathy

Employers and employees quit each other at an astonishing rate these days, and while some turnover is to be expected, it would be nice if you could keep it among the ranks of those workers who don’t benefit your company all that much. But how do you ensure that? One way to keep your best employees around is to make sure they feel valued, and the best way to engender that feeling is to listen to them regularly and with sincerity and implement the changes they think are necessary. Ignoring an employee’s needs, complaints or concerns will send the most sincere among your workforce packing, and listening without taking action will breed frustration. Practice empathy — the ability to both understand and experience another’s feelings — in all employee interaction. Empathy is an essential quality in good leadership that will keep your employees working hard for you. When it’s missing, your best employees will look to find it elsewhere.

The Future Looks Bleak

If your company isn’t the kind of place where employees can effectively “move up” in ways that will gain them more and different skills, more money and more responsibility, then it’s just a matter of time before your most disciplined and ambitious workers hit the road. Career paths must exist in order to keep your team happy, and they need to be well-communicated and properly understood, too. Performance reviews and occasional raises aren’t enough. Make sure you’re communicating with your best employees so that they know the options available to them to move up or across within your company. If a good employee feels like she’s in a job that won’t grow with her, she’ll find one that will.

Too Much Conflict

People usually spend at least 40 hours a week at their job, with their co-workers and beneath the watchful eyes of a manager or boss. Often times, they spend more awake time in that environment than they do anywhere else. If there are people or situations in the workspace that create regular or chronic conflict — even if it’s implicit — a good employee may well leave to find a less stressfulInter-office Conflict place to work. More than 40 percent of American workers say their job is too stressful, and while some stress is normal and healthy, if it’s people-related instead of project-related, it can be too deleterious for employees with marketable skills to endure for long. If you notice interpersonal struggles in the workplace, or if you hear about them, address the trouble head on. Interpersonal skills training can help alleviate some of the stress that might lead your better employees to seek out another job in an attempt to find a more peaceful work environment.

You can’t always retain your best workers. Shorter commutes, career changes, a desire to spend more time with family and a multitude of other reasons may all win out over the otherwise perfect circumstances you provide within your company. That being said, if you aren’t working to cut down on interpersonal conflict, communicating a bigger vision, practicing empathy and providing for a real path to growth, change and financial incentives for your best people, don’t be surprised if they’re on the lookout for greener pastures.

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