It’s getting a lot easier for employees to call it quits.
With the improved economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs increased to nearly 2.8 million, the highest since April 2008. And since replacing an employee can cost you almost a third of their annual salary, you don’t want one of those 2.8 million to be working for your small business.
But why do people quit? Well, this helpful infographic from BambooHR published on Inc.com shows advancement, work/life balance and money to be the top three reasons employees quit their jobs. And untrusting bosses, unreasonable work hours, difficult co-workers, inflexible work times and bosses who blame you for their mistakes are the top five workplace deal breakers.
But some of those reasons are a bit general. So what are the specific things you’re doing as a small business owner that will make your employees bolt faster than a 5th grader at the 3 PM bell? Here are 12 things that you’re doing that may make your employees quit.
Give them more work … FOR THE SAME MONEY!
Unless you’re talking to Robinson Cano, you just don’t meet many people who’ll admit they’re OVER-paid. So when you have to cut personnel, and heap more work on top of your best employees, the first thing they’ll do is start looking for another job where their talents won’t be abused.
Micromanage, micromanage, micromanage
Sure, it’s YOUR business, and you want it run YOUR way. But don’t be a bratty 5-year-old about it. Most good employees are happy to do their job, but when you tell them HOW to do it, they’ll immediately lose motivation. As a business owner, it is in your best interest to understand that your employees may have ways of getting things done that work better for them and that employee motivation is a critical factor in productivity. If you are pleased with the destination, then don’t question their journey.
Give them no opportunity to advance
In a small business giving an employee an opportunity to advance isn’t as crucial as in a larger firm, as employees know there’s only so far they can go when they are hired. But if you incentivize them with things like profit sharing or a potential partnership somewhere down the road, you’ll be shocked to see how much more motivated they are to contribute to your bottom line.
Always hire externally
There’s nothing quite like giving your all to a struggling small business, becoming an integral part of the team, and then watching someone who’s never worked there get hired for a job you wanted. It’s like when somebody who came in after you gets their food first at a restaurant. But instead of your pork belly sliders, it’s your career that’s getting cold.
Promote your friends
Perhaps the only thing worse than seeing an outsider get hired ahead of you is an incompetent suck up getting hired. Yes, we all like people who make us feel better about ourselves, especially in the perpetual beat-down that is owning a small business. But if good employees are getting passed over for the guy who compliments your tie, they’ll be gone before you can say “Thanks. I got it at Barneys.”
Pay the least you can
When you order off the 99 cent menu at Wendy’s, are you really all that surprised when you feel like you swallowed a quart of motor oil two hours later? No. Because in fast food, much like in life, you get what you pay for. And while a small business can’t always afford to pay the top wages, you should pay the absolute most you can afford so you don’t lose good people to higher payers. In addition to competitive salaries, a few thoughtful perks can go a long way toward rewarding your employees.
Run long, unnecessary meetings
You’ve seen “The Office,” right? Ok. Nothing disrupts productivity better than a meeting to discuss unimportant issues. Use email, IM and chats to convey messages that don’t absolutely need to be discussed in person. Too many useless meetings can lead to longer working hours and, ultimately, unhappy employees that quit.
Give them no idea of the big picture
Have you ever seen 7 year olds play soccer? Well, an employee who doesn’t know what his company’s goals are is kind of like 7 year old soccer players chasing the ball around a field without knowing which goal they are supposed to score on. If you’re just telling your employees to run around, they’ll get tired fast and quit. Set realistic employee goals and let them know how they contribute to the business’s ultimate success, as often as you can, and they’ll feel much more valued.
Lead by doing nothing
Though nobody likes that boss who hates going home and forces everyone to keep her company while she works until midnight, what they hate more is the boss that tells THEM to work until midnight and dips out at 5 PM. Yes, there are unpleasant, tedious jobs that need to get done, but if you aren’t helping out your employees will get resentful and quit.
Don’t value their input or creativity
You can’t incorporate every suggestion employee give you, but often they are your people on the ground, in the field, on the floor, or in the general vicinity of wherever you’re conducting business. So they may know more than you do, and if you don’t at least listen to and consider their ideas, they’ll feel devalued and look for somewhere else to work.
Assume they’ll stay no matter what
The economy is a little better that it was, and employees have more options now than they might have had a couple of years ago. But even when times are tough, don’t take your employees for granted. Jobs are never impossible to find, and if you have talented employees, then they can land other jobs. Never assume your small business has the complete upper hand when it comes to employee retention, because it doesn’t.
Especially with younger workers, the ability to work more flexible hours has become something employees prioritize. Yes, in businesses like restaurants and auto repair shops, shifts may be dictated by your operating hours. Regardless, be up front about the level of flexibility you can offer, and offer as much as you can.
The last thing you want to do is make your talented employees quit and leave your small business short-handed. Be mindful of your employees’ pain points and do as much as you can to keep them motivated and happy.