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The top 8 reasons why staff leave

Australia is facing a shortage of skilled labour. When the supply of staff dry up the focus often turns to retention. But the first step is to understand why people you want to stay, choose to move on?


Very few people will reveal the whole truth about why they leave an employer. Partly they don’t want their previous employer to think badly of them, they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and for others, it’s just not worth getting into it. However, there is almost always a catalyst for change. It might not always be the employer but it is very rare that it is “just time”.


1. Change in leadership - Leadership vacuum or concern about the impact of the change.

2. Work not challenging - This is the classic reason for leaving that is behind the “it’s just time” comment. The employee feels as if the company has nothing left to offer.

3. Conflict with a supervisor - Your business can have the best retention policies and strategies in place but a conflict between Manager and subordinate is immediate and damaging.

4. Change in company dynamics - Each company is generally made up of smaller sub groups. These might be based on age, gender, professional status or cultural identity. The loss of a popular team member from one of these groups will be more deeply felt by their subgroup.

5. Unfavourable change in responsibilities - Changes in team structures, reallocation of resources or taking on new assignments that are not within the skills set or comfort level of the employee.

6. Life work balance issues - Retention is about mutual respect for priorities. The employer respecting the employee’s personal responsibilities and employees recognising that they have corporate responsibilities. Both need to be fulfilled.

7. Poor recruitment - Professional or cultural misfits. Ever hired Mr Right now rather than Mr Right?

8. Lack of recognition for perceived value - Overlooked for opportunities held out but not delivered.


Sometimes, it’s not all bad. We’ve all had them; that employee who is the cultural and professional misfit. Decisive action when there is a poor fit can improve team morale.

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