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Lack of advancements chief reason employees leave
March 18, 2004
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Menlo Park, Calif. -- Managers take note:  If the next rung in the career ladder appears out of reach to workers, you could be in danger of losing them, a new survey suggests.  Thirty-nine percent of executives said good employees are most likely to quit their jobs due to a lack of advancement opportunities.  Unhappiness with management was the second most common answer, cited by 23 percent of those polled.

The survey was developed by Robert Half International Inc. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "Which of the following is most likely to cause

good employees to quit their jobs?"  Their responses:

  •     Limited opportunities for advancement      39%
  •     Unhappiness with management                23%
  •     Lack of recognition                                  17%
  •     Inadequate salary and benefits                11%
  •     Bored with their job                                 6%
  •     Lifestyle change (moving, etc.)                 2%
  •     Other/don't know                                    2%

"Helping top performers reach their professional goals is essential to retaining them," says Max Messmer, Chairman and CEO of Robert Half International Inc.

"The best employees are ambitious and may not stay in a position long if it lacks growth potential," says Mesmer.

"If offering a promotion isn't an immediate option, managers should consider providing employees with projects that will prepare them to assume greater responsibilities in the future."

He offered these additional tips to help managers retain valued staff members:

  • Gauge perceptions.  Are your employees happy with their roles and withmanagement?  Gather individual feedback on the work environment and the types of changes that might enhance job satisfaction.
  • Reward extra effort.  Individuals who frequently accept added responsibility or an increased workload should be rewarded.  If budgets are tight, consider alternatives such as a larger office or a more flexible schedule.
  • Give kudos.  Praise doesn't have to be costly or time consuming, but it should be frequent and personalized.  A sincere thank-you note and recognition during a staff meeting for a job well done are inexpensive yet effective motivators.
  • Avoid staff burnout.  The most capable employees tend to have the most on their plate -- and they're least likely to speak up when the workload is too heavy.  If hiring more staff isn't an option, bring in temporary help during peak times.
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