Why Do Employees Leave When They Do? A Timeline of Employee Turnover

It’s time to get away from the “it’s you, not me” mindset.

How are you – as a leader and as a company – contributing to your employee turnover? There is plenty that employers can do proactively to reduce potential turnover, yet many prefer to blame the new hires who “weren’t the right fit” instead of looking within the organization to find what could be done better.

But before you can even create actionable steps to improve retention, you first need to figure out exactly why employees are leaving your organization. And here’s a tip; WHEN they leave can offer valuable clues as to WHY they left.

According to data from WeCare Connect, the nation’s leading provider of employee surveys for the senior care industry, the overall average length of employment for senior care staff is 4.3 years. But what are the reasons that staff might leave sooner than that average? Interestingly, the reasons staff gave for leaving were completely different depending on their length of tenure.

Below are a few of the common stages when employees depart from an employer – and the reasons we’ve found as to why they make that decision.

Employee left the candidate pool

When a candidate leaves this early in the process, it usually means: They simply got a faster offer and wanted to start quickly. Or, your company’s reputation leaves something to be desired. Or, the candidate didn’t like what they saw during the interview process, be it the people they met or the actual process of interviewing.

Employee left in the first week

Being given unrealistic expectations is one of the biggest reasons why an employee would leave after just a week working for your company. Perhaps the job description didn’t match the work they were doing in their first days on the job or the job simply wasn’t what they anticipated. Another factor is often that the orientation process was not welcoming.

Or – this is a huge one – new-hire training was on only one side of a spectrum. Training was either completely overwhelming, or it was nonexistent/not enough. Either way, a new employee could feel like they’re drowning early if the training they receive isn’t effective.

Employee left in the first 30 days

The results of ineffective training extend past the first week on the job. Often, employees who haven’t been trained properly make mistakes or are disciplined for poor performance – and these can often contribute to why an employee leaves within their first month.

In addition, an unrealistic workload or bullying from the seasoned staff are also common reasons for employee departures around this timeframe.

Employee left in the first 3 months

When asked why they left employment, 28% of folks said that the reason they left was because the job was not quite what they expected or was not a great fit. This can easily happen if an employer spend a lot of time talking up a new position, but then effectively abandons the new hire once they’re in that role.

Are you thinking about how new employees should continue to be trained, not just in their first few days, but as an ongoing process? New training needs often pop up within a couple of months on the job, and if those needs aren’t addressed, employees will start looking elsewhere because you “set them up to fail” or didn’t communicate expectations clearly.

And if someone leaves within three months, also take a look at what their team relationships were like. With 21% claiming “Work Conditions” were unfavorable and 20% saying they had “Issues with Co-Workers” it’s often the case that a lack of team-building or a difficult workplace culture could be culprits.

Employee left in the first 6 months

If an employee leaves after half a year, they likely aren’t seeing many incentives to stay at your company. What kind of incentives are you offering to make sure you’re keeping your talent?

Something else to reconsider is your communication approach. A lack of transparency (or a lack of good communication) can lead employees to leave around the 6-month mark because they feel disconnected, out of the loop, or micromanaged.

Also, are you offering feedback and appreciation for jobs well done? Many employees, after this amount of time, will be on the hunt for a workplace that appreciates them if they feel they aren’t getting enough recognition from you.

Employee left within 1-3 years

Although pay is normally assumed to be the top reason employees quit, it actually doesn’t show up as a primary factor until after the 1 year mark. According to WeCare connect data, almost a quarter of the staff who leave after 1 year claim poor pay as their reason for departure.

If your staff don’t see enough opportunity for advancement at your company, they’ll look elsewhere for the next stepping stone. Remember, this is the stage when employees get bored, and feeling stuck or in a rut is a huge part of why they leave after a couple of years. Be sure you are talking about career development and advancement opportunities even if an official promotion doesn’t exist. It may be time to get creative, offering mentoring opportunities, more education, or ways to expand their network.

Employee left after 3+ years

Sometimes employees leaving after a few years is the result of poaching from other companies who make offers your talent can’t resist. But there are things you can do to prevent poachers from stealing away your talent, including reducing their workload to prevent burnout. (Also see everything above so you can continue building a better place to work.)

And if you’re offering bare minimum pay increases (like a 2-4% cost of living adjustment), don’t be surprised when employees realize they can make more elsewhere by job-hopping every few years for a 5-15% increase.

And for everybody

Train your managers! The number one reason people choose to stay or go is their relationship with their manager/supervisor. If you train your leaders to be more effective in their roles, which include onboarding new hires, communicating across generations, and building trust with their staff, you will undoubtedly reduce employee turnover moving forward.

Cara Silletto, MBA, CSP, is a workforce thought leader, keynote speaker, and author of the book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer

WeCare Connect is the nation’s leading provider of employee surveys for the senior care industry, with clients in over 1,300 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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