Article: 5 Top causes of employee attrition you must address now

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5 Top causes of employee attrition you must address now

When employee retention is under pressure, such as during the current labour shortage, organisations face an existential threat.
5 Top causes of employee attrition you must address now


Skills are scarce in the current labour market, making recruitment costly and time-consuming, especially when it comes to filling key roles. Where it takes several weeks to fill a vacancy, turnover can become acutely problematic. 

With a new generation more likely to move jobs than their predecessors, retention has increased in prominence for HR departments. The more valuable the employee, where an individual has specialist skills or has developed strong customer relationships, for instance, the more damaging the resignation, especially if they are lost to a competitor. However, the pandemic has markedly divided employers that handled the pandemic well enough to retain their staff, from those that couldn’t.

Here are five top causes of employee attrition, and actionable advice to help you increase your organisation’s retention rate post-pandemic.

Lack of recognition

Employees who are recognised for their work are 63% more likely to remain in their current position for the next three to six months according to Forbes. The same study found that companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” had 31% lower voluntary attrition rates. 70% of employees would also work harder if they were better recognised for their work, according to HubSpot research.

How can you make sure your employees feel recognised for their work?

Praise for employee accomplishments encourages outperformance, benefitting both the employee and the organisation. But one person’s carrot may be another’s stick, so understanding what makes an individual tick is the first step in retaining them

Using a personality or behavioural assessment can provide vital insights into how to offer recognition that will retain each individual employee. In fact, studies suggest that individual differences can dictate differences in motivation by as much as 15%, making this a dangerous factor for firms to overlook.

Lack of intellectual stimulation

In seeking to understand the causes of job dissatisfaction, it is important to consider the employee’s daily tasks. Are they sufficiently challenging and engaging? Appropriate for the employee’s skill set and strengths? Or are tasks repetitive or frustrating? Employees who undertake work that they consider ‘worthwhile’ are 3.2 times more likely to have high job satisfaction (Robert Half)

How can you ensure that your people are stimulated at work?

Ask yourself, ‘Are the right people in the right roles?’ Qualifications on paper are no longer enough to determine a person’s ‘fit’ for a job. Look closely at your star performers and those at the other end of the scale. What are the common characteristics of each? Establish ‘role fit’ by identifying the behaviours needed to perform each role and assessing job holders against these criteria

A personal profile analysis can be an excellent tool to help a manager understand the individuals in their team better. It can provide a shared language to discuss ‘soft’ skills that left unexplored can lead to employee churn. Open conversations about how each person works best will contribute to a more harmonious team environment, increase employee confidence and ultimately enhance business performance.

Poor Management 

The adage, “people don’t leave organisations, they leave managers,” not only sounds wise, but it’s also supported by research. 61% of the employees leaving their jobs in 2021 said it was because of poor leadership during the pandemic, according to software firm Beamery. The lack of trust in managers among as many as a third of employees (Edelman) is perhaps less surprising given that 58% of managers have never received any management training (CareerBuilder).

How can you make sure that your organisation has great managers?

Provide your organisation’s managers with people assessments to help them understand their people better and provide a shared language to discuss ‘soft’ skills. Combined with quality feedback, psychometric assessments can be one of the fastest routes to boosting self-awareness amongst employees, teams and leaders, and alleviating common causes of frustration. Open conversations about how each person works best will contribute to a more harmonious team environment, increase employee confidence and ultimately better business performance. Protect your assets by equipping your managers with the right tools!

Employees often leave due to a perceived lack of support from line managers and leadership. Helping your managers model high emotional intelligence to their teams is crucial for retention. An emotional intelligence assessment can help your leaders to develop the emotional agility required to manage challenges, high-pressure situations, and a variety of different personality types. 

Lack of development opportunities

Stagnant opportunities for growth are a key driver of employee attrition. During the pandemic, 53% of employees said that working from home had had a negative impact on their career progression, with just one in ten saying that they discuss their career development more than once a year (Talent International). The research also shows a marked disconnect between the HR professionals (64%) and employees (30%) who perceived development opportunities during the pandemic as ‘good’ (Personio).

How can you optimise your development activity?

Ensure that your company has clear development pathways and structures in place for achieving promotions. It is also crucial that managers work with employees from an early stage to highlight development opportunities, training and career opportunities. Assessing individuals’ fluid intelligence, traits and workplace personality can give an indication of their leadership development potential and drive for career progression, which can be useful information for managers. Ensure that line managers help their reports to develop within their roles by making regular one-to-one meetings and encouraging discussion of individuals’ motivators. These meetings are an important opportunity to clarify expectations and address issues that could otherwise lead employees to leave the company.

Workplace personality and behavioural assessments provide a map of the development opportunities for every individual and team within an organisation.

Lack of scope for autonomy

Studies consistently show that meaningful work motivates employees and is thus a key driver of retention. Generation Z is often credited with being more socially motivated than previous generations, and an incredible 94% of Gen Z respondents to a survey by Cone Communications said that companies should address social issues. In Harvard Business Review’s 2017 survey though, “helping others” was a common denominator of satisfying work across all generations, suggesting that solving meaningful challenges is important for retaining people across the board.

How can you inspire your people and empower them to find autonomy in their roles?

It’s important to recognise that what will inspire one person could demotivate another, so managers should modify their approach in line with the behavioural characteristics of their individual direct reports. A personality trait assessment can give managers vital insights into how much scope for autonomy an employee will need to remain satisfied with their role. Employees should feel that they are contributing in a meaningful way. Try aligning individual interests and career goals with the objectives of the company to avoid unhappy employees. It is also essential to give your employees the chance to feedback.

Employers who proactively seek feedback show a sincere commitment to making their business a workplace of choice. If your employees have a voice and feel a connection to the organisation, they are more likely to want to stay.


This article is part of a content partnership with Thomas Assessments. You can learn more about psychometric assessments and the new and improved Thomas platform by clicking here.

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Topics: Talent Management, Leadership, Assessments

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