When a skilled, valued employee leaves an organization, everyone loses, including the bottom line. In fact, the average cost of turning over a skilled job is 213% the cost of one year’s salary. Translation, if an employee who earns $50,000 a year quits, the organization will spend $106,500 on replacing that salary. The bottom line isn’t the only thing that gets hurt either.

When an employee quits, there is always a ripple effect, impacting other workers and the company culture. To get to the heart of the matter and stop employees from “jumping ship”, it’s important to understand why they quit in the first place.

Reasons Employees Jump Ship

Most employers still think salary is the main reason an employee leaves the organization. Company loyalty is at an all-time low, and according to Fast Company, workers often jump ship to increase their salary. A new job is often the best chance an employee has to go above the traditional annual cost of living raise (which is around 3%, barely outpacing inflation). There is some truth to it, but with skilled employees in high demand, salary is not the only reason they jump ship.

According to Gallop, 75% of employees quit due to problems with their manager. In other words, employees quit the boss, not the job. Managers must be approachable, engaged, and transparent. Dictating tasks, withholding feedback/results, and “expecting in place of appreciating” are no longer tolerated by the modern worker.

Employees want to feel valued and appreciated. If they don’t, they will go somewhere where they will. Management that does not take a more “hands on”, selfless, leadership style will continue to drive talent away, impacting the overall company culture.

Company Culture

Company culture is much more than the work environment. Workers, especially skilled, hard-to-find workers have the luxury to choose where they want to work. A positive company culture is often the deciding factor (or lack thereof when deciding to take their talents elsewhere).

To remain competitive, organizations must consider the following cultural enhancements:

  • Be transparent with what’s going on in the business and how an employee’s work makes an impact
  • Ask for employee feedback/opinions and implement the ideas/suggestions
  • Attach meaning and purpose to the work
  • Offer flexible work schedules (if possible) to help employees attain work/life balance

Good rules of thumb:

  • Ask for employee input often and create a culture of trust where an employee is comfortable to discuss problems or issues.
  • If an employee is compelled to leave, always conduct an exit interview to uncover specific areas for improvement and/or detailed reason(s) why.

Overall, realizing that good managers and a positive company culture are the keys to retaining skilled workers is a good start to stop a mass exodus of talent. If these two aspects of the business are not monitored and nurtured by employee input, be prepared to hold the door open and hope other valued members of the team do not feel empowered to leave too. After all, it often takes the courage of one to influence the action of others. Address the issues today and stop your employees from jumping ship tomorrow.


A special thanks to SACS Consulting and Timothy Dimoff for providing this post.