Are You Driving Your Talent to Leave?


Depending on who you believe and what you read, an impending talent mass exodus from crappy work places is on the horizon. I believe it’s already here. Employees who leave crappy work environments for perceived better work places will leave gapping holes of lost knowledge and take with them corporate mythology essential to strategy and vital to daily operations. But that’s just simply stating the obvious.

Putting aside crappy work environments, another issue facing employers in their talent management strategies, or lack thereof, is complacency. In a recent Manpower Group white paper they explain the not-so-new talent crisis has created complacency in executives’ willingness to do something about it.

Despite compelling research showing a mismatch of people to jobs as Boomers retire, complacency is unacceptable, yet not surprising.

Complacency, if allowed to fester, will contribute to underwhelming financial performance, contribute to employee wellbeing problems, and let poor morale dominate. It’s unacceptable that more executives are willing to put off action in the face of the aforementioned issues.

This positions managers to take matters into their own hands. Managers may not have the influence to do something at a macro level. They do, however, have control over the work environment in which their teams works.

Here’s a short list of culprits that drive talent to leave.

Lack of freedom

Employees not given the room to do what they do best leave work frustrated, feel under appreciated. Trust is weakened when a helicopter manager hovers and dictates how work should be done. Or worse, refuses work not done in the way they’d do it.

Lack of opportunities

Short of a company going out of business or slipping into irrelevancy, there is no reason opportunities are absent. The drive to meet customer demands is an endless source of opportunities. Employees leave when they aren’t encouraged to apply their strengths and experiences to solve the company’s problems.

Mismatched rewards

Employee compensation is definitely one reason talent leaves. It’s not the first reason. But if you don’t pay a competitive salary or hourly rate and abuse their availability without recognizing the extra time put in, you’re sending a message that the work is more important than their own time. People tolerate this type of crap for only a short time.

Inconsistent management

A manager with a spotty record in doing what she says she’ll do, or is inconsistent in her expectations or giving praise, leaves employees wondering what to expect. It becomes exhausting trying to anticipate a managers actions.

Absence of optimism/hope

Who wants to work in environment that sucks joy out of people?

As a manager you have a choice to make in this time of new normals. You can put off your response to the talent shortage or find ways to minimize the bleeding. Don’t wait for upper management to roll out a program. Act now before you lose another talented employee.


Graphic by Shawn Murphy

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • Al Smith

    Another post that is right on point. In short Shawn, companies need to CARE about their employees. You always add brilliant insight and writing to this topic. I love all the points you make, esoecially that last one of Optimism and Hope. that is so key. I always say if you have Gratitude and Optimism, you can accomplish a lot. Thanks again, man.

    Take CARE.


  • Steve Borek

    In a study by Gallup, the majority of people leave because of management.. Plus the fact your employees will not recommend the company to their sphere of influence.

    Leaders need to do a lot better on soft skills and emotional intelligence. My experience as a coach says most avoid this topic. They either don’t get it, or feel uncomfortable speaking about behavior.

  • Shawn Murphy

    Hi Al,
    With a predominate sense of dissatisfaction, caution, lingering concerns of layoffs, organizations must find a way to balance the pessimism/negativity with optimism. Like many things in this world, there’s a yin and yang that naturally occurs. This applies to the mood in organizations around the globe.

    I sure appreciate your ongoing encouragement, Al.

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

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