There's always going to be "the employee who got away" -- the high performer whose departure from your team delivered a crushing blow to productivity or workgroup cohesion or both.

[contextly_auto_sidebar id="AMhpUUJFTCLI0cRVNfep2aFGPFOvZIr0"]Carly Guthrie, who specializes in human resources in the tech industry, recently gave a fascinating perspective on retention for First Round. I appreciate that she didn't speak to some of the obvious reasons that employees quit, instead going for two subtler nuances: time and trust.

Here are my favorite bits from her interview (again, read the whole thing here) as to why people quit.

Reason #1: You don't respect their time.

"A really good CEO thinks about the bigger picture and realizes people have lives outside of work," says Guthrie. "That's the No. 1 way to prevent people from feeling like they might want to be somewhere else."

One example of infringing on employees' personal time is a staff meeting first thing Monday morning. Guthrie cites 7:30 a.m. meetings she's seen, explaining, "You want to get the most out of your weekend. You don't want to go to bed early every Sunday."

Even seemingly innocuous company practices like Friday afternoon happy hours can threaten an employee's sense of freedom of time. Employees feel pressured to stay late on Friday for the happy hour, which eats up the first evening of their weekend.

I've experienced both of these situations, with mixed emotions for each. The deciding factors for me, long-term, are these:

  • Is the [meeting/happy hour] truly optional, or "optional" (but really mandatory)?
  • Is this a one-time event or a permanent change in my routine?

Another essential nuance Guthrie points out that I love: let your employees decide whether to work on the weekends or not. "When you provide this level of freedom, it makes it that much more reasonable to say, 'I'm going to ask the sun and stars from you the rest of the time,'" writes FirstRound.

Reason #2: Loss of confidence.

It's almost impossible for an employee to rebound from a significant confidence loss, either in their own capabilities or the company's.

This loss in confidence doesn't always happen overnight. "Let's say you've had a couple of pivots and you just don't believe in the company or concept anymore," explained Guthrie. "You lose confidence in the marketability or leadership."

For me, this confidence hinges on trust. If a client has broken my trust in, let's say, paying invoices on time, I don't just lose confidence in their ability to take care of day-to-day tasks -- I lose trust in their capability to support me in return for my work.

What are some of the underrated reasons you've left a job?

Share this post