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Top 5 Reasons Why Australian Workers Resign and What You Can Do About It

The top 5 reasons why Australians quit their jobs or start looking for a new one have been pretty much the same for a while now. Yet we still see people resigning for the same reasons. And it’s not what most employers think. So, what are the reasons and what can you do to pre-empt them?

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner
A man quitting his job

When a valued staff member resigns, it’s often the case that we focus on the impact their departure is going to have rather than understanding why they made the decision to leave.

Most often we rationalise it by saying “she got offered more money”, or “he’s been keen for a management role for a while now”, or worse, “they’re just an ungrateful and selfish so and so”. Very rarely, do we question what role we may have played in their decision.

And losing an employee is expensive. It can cost the equivalent of up to 6 months of the departing employee’s salary to source, onboard and train a replacement. Not to mention the lost productivity and unsettlement in the team when someone leaves.

So, it makes sense to operate on a pre-emptive strike model and do everything you can to retain your star performers. Knowing what can lead to someone resigning is the first step.

Various studies conducted in Australia over the past three years by organisations like SEEK, the HR Institute, National Australia Bank, HRD, RMIT and Deloitte, thousands of Australian workers were asked why they left their last job or were thinking of leaving their current role.

If you’re in a management role, the results might disturb you. The Top 4 reasons are all in your control and have nothing to do with salary!

Top 5 reasons why Australians are leaving jobs

1. Mediocre management

People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses!

Feeling under appreciated by their manager, feeling that their contribution is not valuable, lack of positive feedback, no performance reviews or opportunities to raise issues, lack of clear decision making by managers, managers playing favourites, managers not leading, managers not caring about them – sadly, the list of shortcomings by management tops the list in every study.

2. Lack of learning opportunities and career progression

This comes up time and time again and sort of relates to the mediocre management reason. In some studies it is the #1 reason. Humans are wired to learn and be rewarded for that. If your team members cannot see any opportunities to learn new skills and advance through the ranks, they will go somewhere that enables them to achieve their potential. Providing learning and development opportunities is the single most significant thing you can do to demonstrate how valued someone is. But make sure you’ve talked to them first about their aspirations.

3. Want to try something different

A lack of fulfilment or plain old boredom are the main reasons we are spurred on to try something new. None of us react well to Groundhog Day after a while. If your staff member is getting itchy feet, it just may be because they’re not being given enough variety in their role or they aren’t invited to share in the vision of the company and understand the valuable role they play in that.

4. Poor working conditions

This is a broad category but things like lack of flexibility, unreasonable hours, no work-life balance, unventilated or cramped offices, workplace discrimination, lack of decent kitchen facilities, and unprofessional behaviour by managers and/or colleagues, all contribute the feeling that people deserve better. When expected to work in poor conditions, people feel disrespected and this leads to feeling under-valued and under-appreciated.

5. Dissatisfaction with pay

The lack of wage growth in Australia these past 10 years, combined with the power candidates have in a tight market has certainly encouraged people to better understand what they are worth. However, dissatisfaction with one’s salary usually only starts to set in when we realise what we could earn somewhere else. And that’s knowledge gained by putting some feelers out. A dissatisfaction with pay is a by-product of feeling undervalued, overworked, under-stimulated, and in a stagnated state. In fact, studies show that most employees would prefer training to free lunches, or $1000 to spend on training rather than a $50/week pay rise.

So, how do you stop high performers from resigning?

1. Give Managers and Team Leaders the time and mentoring to lead their teams well, rather than just ‘manage’ them.

This starts with ensuring a level of self-awareness. We are always better at relationships when we’re aware of our own personality, style of communication, approach to conflict resolution, decision-making processes and how all behaviours impact on those around us. Then make sure they have the time and space to be the leader you want – and that means not imposing team leadership responsibilities on top of their full-time role. Remember, managers and team leaders can feel overloaded and undervalued too.

2. Increase your 1:1 contact time with your team members to stay on top of “where they’re at”

People love to feel that they are visible and valued. A simple hello in the morning is a simple sign of recognition. A pat on the back for a job well done does wonders. Asking how they are and taking an interest in their careers and aspirations sends the message they’re important and that you care about them.

Rather than an annual performance review that takes hours to compile and never leaves enough time or space for discussions about career progression, sharing ideas and just ‘chewing the fat’ with someone in a relaxed way, why not do quick quarterly check-ins with your people? These can still be structured but can be hugely valuable in keeping your finger on the pulse of your team, and getting a sniff of any dissatisfaction early enough to address the issue.

3. Catch people out doing something right

There’s nothing quite as intoxicating and addictive as being congratulated or praised for doing something well and if that is public praise, all the better! People will not leave a job where they feel truly valued and their contribution is recognised. Too often the only communication Managers have with their staff is to speak to them about a mistake they’ve made or something else you’re disappointed by.

4. Check your office environment

We’re not talking about calling in the decorators and wellness consultants here! It’s the simple things that people appreciate – a workable and generously stocked tea room, a desk that’s big enough to work at, a proper chair to sit in, a decent monitor rather than expecting people to work on a laptop all day, proper lighting, heating and cooling that doesn’t date back to the 80’s – the sorts of things you would like for yourself is a good benchmark!

5. Encourage a respectful workplace

Nothing makes a work environment more toxic than a vocabulary of foul language, people not respecting other’s workspaces, poor taste jokes, ‘teasing’ behaviours as a form of fun, poor sharing of information and so on. Lead by example to encourage a respectful workplace and mentor your team leaders to do the same.

6. Provide learning and development opportunities

In your 1:1s with staff, make sure you chat about what their aspirations and frustrations are – perhaps they are struggling with a piece of technology, perhaps they want to develop a new skill that will enhance their performance or enable them to be a back-up for a colleague, or perhaps they just want to learn how to better manage their time. Whatever the reason, if it would be valuable to the business, it’s cheaper than replacing someone who becomes dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities.

Staff retention is a winning strategy for success

Understanding what motivates people to stay in the fold and perform at their best is the beginning of a commitment to a staff retention strategy that will ensure your success. After all, without them, you couldn’t be in the business of doing business.

Recognise each person as a valuable link in the chain tethering you to your customers and treat them as such and you’ll experience loyalty and performance you only dreamed of.

Professional recruitment and fair pricing? Yes, it‘s possible!

At Just Right People Recruitment we‘ll give you the flexibility to choose between three different pricing models. And we guarantee each one will deliver a high-quality recruitment outcome tailored to your job, your budget and your specific needs. Now, that’s fair!

Learn more…

Bernadette Eichner
Bernadette Eichner

Bernadette Eichner, Cofounder and CEO of Just Right People, is a recruitment industry entrepreneur and thought leader in Australia, totally committed to improving the recruiter experience for clients and candidates alike. Her secret to life is to “just do the next thing that needs to be done”.

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