I feel fortunate to receive a response to some questions I asked Leigh Branham, Author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave. You may remember my review a couple of weeks ago of the book. If not, you can read it here. This book is a good read for job seekers, as it helps to know and pursue the work environment you desire. Branham’s book will also help you understand what employers generally expect.
What ideas were you testing before giving the survey?
I was curious to know if employees were leaving for the same reasons as I previously identified in analyzing 19,700 third-party exit interviews the Saratoga Institute conducted prior to 2005 when the first edition of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave was published (which reported my analysis of the surveys). I also wanted to find out some things Saratoga didn’t ask, such as whether there was a turning point in the employees’ decision to leave, the predominance of push vs. pull factors, how long employees stayed after first thinking of leaving, the avoidability of the reasons, and how their reported productivity was affected.
What was the most surprising about the results?
I was actually surprised how consistent the findings were when compared to the pre-2005 surveys.
The same 7 reasons held true in 2012 as in 2005 with small differences–not feeling valued was still the main reason, but lack of trust and confidence in senior leadership was mentioned far more frequently, probably owing to more consciousness about senior leaders due to all the negative publicity associated with leader behavior and the Wall Street collapse. I also found that nine out of ten root-cause reasons for leaving were avoidable push factors as opposed to pull factors, such as an attractive job offer. There was a triggering event that precipitated the decision to leave in 64% of the turnovers, compared to 66% found by Dr. Thomas Lee at the University of Washington (who has spent his entire academic career studying employee turnover).
Did any of the results tell you anything about job seekers? If so, what did it tell you?
The data indicate that many job seekers experience disillusionment in the first few months on the job but stay, and disengage for several weeks or months before finally beginning to look for a job. Finally, a “last straw” event occurs that moves them off dead center–an “I’m outta here” moment, so to speak.
To avoid disillusionment, job seekers need to have a mindset of “I’m hiring my next employer” and ask more questions about company culture as they network and ask to speak informally with future peers before accepting the position. It’s also advisable to take on a consulting assignment or project before accepting a full-time job so you can have first-hand experience of the company before making the decision.
Did any of the results change what you would advise job seekers?
Not really. I’ve always been a huge advocate of networking in a way that helps you uncover hidden needs in your target companies as well as hidden skeletons.
Can you elaborate a little on the interviewing process of how employers can screen job seekers for a better fit? In what ways do you think that candidates can find out about the culture of the workplace he or she is interested in pursuing?
As I mentioned, ask to speak with your future colleagues without your future manager present so they will feel free to talk openly about the manager’s style, culture, internal career advancement, senior leadership, work-life balance, teamwork, and other issues that are important to you. Recruiters, former employees, suppliers, contractors, consultants,and glassdoor.com are also good sources to check out. And you can always ask the hiring manager directly about his/hermanagement style, priorities, the culture, and the team you’ll be working with.
Two questions I would always ask are:
1. Can you tell me what results you would be looking for me to have completed after six months and one year? and
2.What traits or talents do you consider most important in the person you hire for this job?