Specifically, employees typically leave for five reasons:
1. The confidence factor. Organizations often look like they're more out of focus when they're seen internally, rather than externally. It's not always clear to employees what the strategy is, and even when there's a clear-cut strategy, it might not be apparent that it's linked to the long-term mission and health of the organization. When a key employee loses confidence and hope, he or she may begin to think the grass is greener in another company, where there seems to be more focus.
2. The emotional factor. Key employees need to be recognized, rewarded and developed. When employees leave an organization, they often site lack of recognition, inadequate rewards and too little focus on their personal development as reasons to move on. When employers fail to fulfill these needs, they inevitably conclude they have no choice but to move on.
3. The trust factor. A feeling often expressed upon departure is: "There were too many broken promises and commitments that weren't kept. They weren't loyal to me. Why should I remain loyal to them?" Trust is a two-way street--it begins with the employer, and employees respond in kind. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as transference--the ability of one person to transfer his or her care to another. A broken promise, whether implicit or explicit, breaks the underpinnings that support the trust paradigm.
4. The fit factor. Key employees who dedicate themselves to their organizations need to feel as though they fit--that their values and principles match those of the organization. We frequently hear exiting employees say, "I didn't fit in with the team like I used to." It's much easier to leave a manager or team that you don't like, or more importantly, that you believe doesn't like you.
5. The listening factor. Key employees need to believe they're being heard. This is perhaps the most frequently cited reason why employees leave an organization. They believe they're not being heard. Failure to say exactly what's needed and expected of them becomes a hurdle that tires out employees, and ends in statements like, "It isn't worth it anymore."
Philip J. Harkins
Excerpt - October 1998 Workforce Magazine