manager talking to employee in an office

Employees often quit because they’re not connected to their work or their team. Ask these five questions to facilitate an ongoing open dialogue to help engage your workforce so they stay for the long term.

When one of your high-performing employees tells you — seemingly out of the blue — that they are leaving the organization, it can be shocking, upsetting and disruptive. But it’s also a critical moment as a leader to take stock of your culture and management style and ask yourself: “Could I have prevented this?”

Most people leave organizations because they sense a lack of engagement — and they typically don’t feel aligned with the overall vision of the organization or that their work matters. Further, they may be isolated and disconnected from their colleagues, especially in a remote or hybrid work environment.

Employee retention is currently a challenge for organizations across sectors because the reality is that the job market remains strong — despite recent headlines about mass layoffs. People have more options than ever before, so if they feel unhappy or unfulfilled in their current role, they are going to look elsewhere. To address these challenges, it’s critical to take the steps needed to create a unique work environment that honors employees, fosters support, connection and empowerment.

When someone leaves, they’re leaving because they are not fullfilled by their work.

Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge and recognize that the makeup of the current workforce has dramatically shifted. We’ve now got a sizable population of the talent pool that has grown up on social media. These individuals are engaging with the world differently and have different priorities and values. Because of that, we need to honor them differently and meet them where they are. This requires an HR strategy that both supports employees’ career goals and prioritizes their health and well-being. In other words, the “whole person” needs to be honored.

Five questions to ask before an employee resigns

So, what could you have done to prevent a key person from moving on? The answer to that, in most cases, lies in better, more frequent and authentic communication. An ongoing and open dialogue is critical. Specifically, in addition to regular conversations about tactical job performance, it’s important to layer in regular, proactive conversations about how individuals are feeling overall about their work.

Many companies do this annually as part of their year-end review process, but in my view, this is not sufficient — especially if you’re looking to boost retention rates. During these higher-level sessions, which should happen monthly or quarterly at a minimum, it’s important to focus on five key questions:

  1. Are you feeling connected to your work and your team?
  2. Do you understand what your responsibilities are and are they the right responsibilities?
  3. Do you feel like you have solid stretch goals that keep you energized?
  4. Are you getting what you need to be successful in your role?
  5. Do you feel aligned with the overall goals of the organization?

By openly discussing these core themes with your team members on a regular basis, you will gain a better sense of where they are, how they are feeling and if they are thriving in their position. You’ll also know if things are not working and be able to take steps to proactively address any issues before the situation worsens.

Organizations with strong employee retention rates have a key competitive advantage: they can focus on growing the business and developing their employees rather than spending time hiring and training replacements. The simple steps outlined in this piece offer one strategy to help your team feel more supported — and more likely to stick around longer.

You never want to let an employee be close to walking out the door and not know why.

How we can help

Building and retaining a high-performing workforce all comes down to the culture you want to build. Our experienced and talented team of HR professionals, comprised of Director to VP-level consultants, can partner with you on strategic HR projects, like long-term employee retention initiatives, that will help set you up for future success. Visit our interactive guide to discover additional ways you can leverage outsourced and managed services from BPM to help your organization realize its future vision.

Headshot of Jill Pappenheimer.