The real reason your employees quit

Previous studies have shown that poor managers are the number one reason people quit, but a recent engagement survey at Facebook suggests there's more to the story.

When Facebook began tracking why employees left the firm, researchers found that most workers were happy with their managers—but not with their job. According to their engagement survey, employees left for three reasons: their work wasn't enjoyable, their strengths were underutilized, and they lacked growth opportunities.

This finding builds on previous research by highlighting the role managers play in employee engagement, according to a recent article by three Facebook executives and author Adam Grant in the Harvard Business Review.

Ultimately, managers are responsible for helping employees design a job that feels meaningful and motivating, the authors write. And because more than half of employees are looking for new job opportunities, managers are under great pressure to keep top talent engaged.

Read more: To retain top talent, managers (still) matter

Pulling from the Facebook survey results, the authors identify three steps managers can take to help employees craft jobs that keep their personal and professional goals at the center.

1: Ask employees what work they enjoy

Before you can design a motivating job for your employees, you have to ask them what type of work energizes them, the authors write. Unfortunately, many leaders don't learn what work makes their employees happy until the exit interview, they add.

Instead, the authors recommend implementing "entry interviews" where managers ask their new hires about their professional and personal motivations. Ideally, these personalized career conversations continue throughout an employee's tenure to ensure star performers remain engaged, Ryan Pendell recently wrote for Gallup.

2: Use your employees' strengths

Narrow job descriptions limit employees' ability to exercise their full range of skills, the authors write. But great managers create opportunities for employees to use their underutilized strengths. Helping employees play to their strengths may mean redesigning their job scope or moving positions, the authors write.

Leaders who excel at developing high-potential individuals accept that talented individuals restlessly seek new opportunities to grow, Pendell writes. But if your star performers aren't aware of the growth and learning opportunities within the firm, they're likely to look elsewhere, he warns.

3: Carve a customized career development path

Facebook's best managers create professional opportunities that support their employees' personal priorities, the authors write. Working parents, for example, often thrive in roles that minimize work and parent conflicts, they add (Goler et al., Harvard Business Review, 1/22)

Also see: The 10 boss habits most likely to make your employees quit, ranked


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