Employees don’t quit jobs; they quit managers.

Have you ever heard that?

Many surveys have proven this. But despite the evidence, the number of managers coming to terms with this fact doesn’t seem to be increasing.

Here is a graph showing the steady increase in the number of employees quiting.

Quit Chart

Source: SHRM

Just what is the reason behind this trend?


Employees quitting managers is a conclusion reached from the fact that managers are the ones in charge of the workplace environment.

Being in charge, what they do or fail to do is what will eventually determine the employee turnover rate.

Looking at the 9 things discussed below, you’ll realize that they are all preventable. If you’ve been employed in the past or are currently employed, you may recognize some of these things from experience.

Some of them are common in many companies. For example, many managers, as well as some business owners lack empathy.

For this reason, they focus on profits to the extent that they don’t really care what their employees are going through.

If you’re working in a company where you feel you’re not valued, it might help to look elsewhere. Do not be held back by the fear that finding another job will be difficult.

As long as you know what you have to offer and have enough confidence in yourself, feel free to explore other options. Our blog can also help you in this process. We have articles touching on virtually any job search-related topic.

In this article, we’re looking at the reasons behind high employee turnover rates. Be careful to avoid them if you are a manager. And if you are an employee, be on the look out for these red flags.

1. Overworking

Managers are usually driven towards productivity. And productivity and performance are closely related. Since performance is often assumed to mean doing a lot of work, managers try to extract this from their employees.

A top-performing employee is a natural hard worker. As such, it’s evident that he can handle more than he currently does. And since he finishes his job on time and does it well, why not give him more work?

This reasoning is the basis of much overworking at the office. And it’s not without an effect.

In some cases though, all employees may be overworked regardless of performance. This happens mostly in an attempt to cut costs on hiring new talent.

According to one study, almost half of the HR leaders say that 20 to 50% of their annual workforce turnover is due to burnout.

Obviously, when too much work is done by any one person, he will be overwhelmed.

Even with a good performer, burdening him with extra work will gradually reduce his performance.

Wherever there is overworking, the manager is actually failing to deal with the real problem at hand. Instead, he opts to get a quick fix which will cost him less.

For the employee, good performance is part of his life.

It’s part of the definition of who he is. And when he is not able to give his best because he’s being overworked, he suffers from within. He feels the pressure from within because he can’t do his work well.

Knowing too well that the bad situation can get worse, especially if he tries raising the issue and doesn’t get help, what does he do?

He quits.


As a manager, know the kind of employees you have. Know who can do what and who cannot do certain tasks.

But since there is a job description which employees are bound by, engage them on how to perform well.

Do not be quick to reduce someone’s workload and give part of it to someone else. Work to help the other person overcome his own challenges.

2. Lack of Challenges

Part of the reason why a good employee is good is that he is self-motivated. He rarely needs any external motivation to work and even finish his job in good time.

A contributing factor to this performance is a desire to overcome challenges.

Great employees love challenges. The adrenaline rush that comes with solving a problem, especially a difficult one, is part of what they enjoy.

So when they do all there is to do and all work becomes repetitive, life becomes boring.

A boring life has very little to offer. This results in feelings of under-utilizing one’s strengths.


The key is to understand what drives your employees.

As a manager, it’s also important to come up with challenges surrounding the work done at the office. If there isn’t any real challenge, come up with one.

Look for a new way of doing things. If the current methods are good enough, challenge your staff to find a better way. Ask them to use fewer resources. From your list of resources, let time be the last you ask them to reduce.

If they are to do the same job in less time, it could lead to a form of overworking.

Be smart about it. Change the way work is done or the kind of results expected and keep them on their toes.

For example, you can challenge your best sales person to sell your products to a different target market. The difference however shouldn’t be too big such that it increases the chances of a fail.

In this case, just tell him that you want to see whether the new market can embrace the product.

Share some insights about the target market and ask him to introduce the product.

3. Lack of a Clear Vision

Good employees are the type that want to know where the company is headed.

Yes, they were looking for a job and they want the money.

But more than that, they also want to be sure that they are in the right place. They don’t want to lose their time in the wrong place doing the wrong thing.

One of the things which clearly indicate where a company is headed is the vision statement. Your company must have this. And if it’s not clearly stated, then have it clearly understood by the members of your team.

Still, having a vision statement is not all that is needed to keep the good employee around.

The vision should be very clear. You should also take time to further explain it so it’s completely clear what the daily tasks contribute to.

Where there is no clear vision, there is no clear direction of where employees are headed. That means they might spend their efforts on something which doesn’t really count.

For the performer, this is not a good thing. There is nothing as bad as doing something which may be of no benefit.

Performers want to contribute to the general well being of the world. They want to make other people’s lives better.

And if your company has no real reason for existing, think hard about it.

Get a vision and stick to it.

4. Lack of Empathy

All employees are human beings and central to the human nature is having a family.

A family in this case is not just the people with whom you were born and raised. Your family is also made up of friends and colleagues.

This whole family setting has, among other roles, the responsibility of providing love and acceptance.

A sense of belonging.

This creates an environment where every member feels safe to speak their mind. If they have any personal challenges, they know they can talk to their managers and get help.

These traits are neither developed by wishful thinking nor do they just come. They are intentionally developed.

Empathy in a manager means that the manager is not too focused on beating deadlines, saving costs and getting things done. The manager is also concerned about the life of his staff.

If he is more concerned about the bottom line, then there would be little room for making connections.

Consider the below statistics from the 2019 state of workplace empathy report by businessolver:

  • 58% of CEOs say that they struggle with consistently exhibiting empathy at work
  • 92% of CEOs say that their organizations are empathetic. Only 72% of the employees agree. Comparing this year’s report with previous years, 72% is a 6-point decrease.
  • How does this affect or influence employee retention? 93% of employees are likely to stay with an empathetic employer.

It’s not just about the money. Employees have a need to feel loved.

Empathy means that the manager is there to listen and offer the help he can. If not able to help, then just listening and giving an assurance that all will be well is good enough.

You can even allow the employee to leave work early or not come in for a day to enable him have some rest if needed.

Yes, some people are naturally more empathetic than others and we cannot be the same. Yet, in our uniqueness, we can develop sincere love for one another.


As much as high levels of empathy may not be easy to achieve, there are acceptable levels which everyone can reach. And getting there is not difficult. You just have to start with a change of attitude.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson

Make up your mind that you’ll be there for your team members. Whenever you hear of someone going through a problem, have a chat with them.

That will be your opportunity to drop your “manager” hat and put on your “friend” hat.

Speak with the employee as you would a close friend.

In any case, don’t you value this employee?

5. Blame Game

Another serious problem at work is the habit of blaming wrongdoing on the wrong people.

This can happen as a result of favoritism or lack of concrete evidence when accusations fly around.

Another reason blame game will exist in your company or team is when there are no clear roles. If duties are allocated haphazardly and they are not clear, no-one takes any responsibility for them.

This happens often after meetings. Discussions have taken place and decisions reached. But then it’s not very clear who is to do what. It’s just agreed that “we will do it.” When what was to be done isn’t done, who is to blame?

When this situation is recurring in your company, the employees who aren’t loud enough are more likely to suffer. And these might be the best performing ones.

These are those who expect the manager to create a conducive environment.

A good work environment will ensure everything is clear and well communicated. There will also be no cases of other signs of a bad work environment like excessive competition among employees or micromanaging staff.

As the below video shows, blame game is a survival tactic that is common where there is no sense of accountability.


As the manager, you have to first develop yourself in the area of accountability before holding others accountable.

But since you don’t have the privilege of time, it’s best to embrace this lesson as a team project.

Gather your team and explain the situation. Be sincere and show them that you want a change and are willing to lead by example. If you all learn to be accountable, not only will you reduce turnover, but you’ll also have more getting done.

6. No Promotions

Good employee know that they are good. They know that they give more than they are required to but still give it.

It’s just a part of them. They go the extra mile.

But giving extra is not supposed to be taken as charity. Good employees are in a career and they expect to grow beyond where they are.

The commonest way to grow without leaving your current employer is through promotions. Promotions take you to the next level which provides bigger challenges.

Promotions also come with a higher pay and better benefits.

If someone works hard then gets passed for a promotion, you can be sure he will not like it.

At first, he may just wonder what’s going on. If that happens the second time, third and maybe fourth time, he gets frustrated.

Will he need any convincing that the playing ground is not level? Will he stay around hoping things change?


Unfair promotions are a bad management habit. It often points to favoritism and lack of sensitivity.

If you know that you favor certain employees over others, it’s time to stop it. Not only will this demotivate others, it will also open the door for your best talent to leave.

Give promotions on the basis of performance.

Let those who do a good job get the higher rank and task them with helping others become like them.

7. No Recognition and Rewards

Another way of appreciating your team members’ efforts is through rewards. When you reward those who do a good job, it motivates them to do even more.

It’s said that employees work for the money but go the extra mile for recognition.

That statement may be open to debate. But one thing is obvious, people love being recognized and appreciated.

We all want to be valuable before someone else’s eyes. This in part is the reason we get into romantic relationships.

At the core of wanting to be recognized is a need for affirmation.

You may know that you are good at something. Despite that knowledge, you’ll still want to get a confirmation from someone else.

It’s also natural to want to get some feedback. If your efforts are positively recognized, then you know you’re adding value. That means you are of value and it makes you feel important and good.

If an employee does a good job but isn’t rewarded while another one is, that can send a message that they are not valued. They could then translate that to mean that they themselves are of no value in the company they currently work in.

All this, while it’s clear they’re doing a good job. They know that their input helps the company achieve its goals.

Will they really stick around?


Be intentional about recognizing and publicly appreciating your team’s effort. This should happen both at the overall team level and at the individual level.

Get comfortable with giving words of affirmation and encouragement. Encourage your staff and they will become better.

And while you’re doing this, do not focus only on the best employee.

That will not reflect well on the other staff and can lead to resentment and conflict within the team.

8. No Room for Creativity

For the good employee to do what he does so well, he often utilizes his creative side.

Creativity is not something only endowed to artists, poets, musicians and the like. Everyone has some creativity within and it’s a joy to use it.

When creativity is allowed to flow, you will have many solutions. When you have many solutions, you get better performance since you reduce the challenges hindering productivity and efficiency.

Creativity is directly tied to productivity. And the most productive employees are those who have a unique way of doing things.

But some managers are not very comfortable when a creative employee is part of their team.

They may love the good results but dislike the processes through which the results are obtained.

This can happen where the structures at work are rigid. If the process dictates the steps to be followed and is strict about it, then you will be suppressing creativity.

Lack of creativity means lack of freedom to think. If you’re not allowing your staff to think for themselves, it means you’re turning them into slaves. People who only do what they’re told and ask no question.

Great employees cannot work under such circumstances.


As long as no rules have been broken, you should let employees work as they see best. Define for them what is expected and allow them room to use different methods of getting the work done.

To further open up the workplace for creativity, include your team members in decision making meetings. Invite them for a meeting about anything significant in the team.

Have brainstorming sessions with them and ask them for ideas. Let them know that all ideas are acceptable, no matter how crazy they sound. See to it that you implement at least one of the suggestions.

9. Failing to Provide Room for Personal Development

There is indeed something called work-life balance and it’s important for everyone.

Everyone needs to have some time to pursue other things and not seem to live for their bosses. The people who know this more than others are your best talent.

This is because they already are aware of some of the strengths and natural inclinations they have.

Natural inclinations help you know what you can be best at and which skills to learn.

One way companies restrict personal development is by denying them opportunities to further their studies. This can happen through arguments that employees are leaving early. It could also happen through overworking.


When good employees learn new skills or improve their current ones, they will use them in your company. The risk of leaving only increases if you don’t treat them well.

You’ll do well to encourage them to get further education. They should know that you are on their side and you wish them well.

As you do so, let them know that there is a position they could apply for within the company once they graduated.

This will show them that there is room for growth within the company even as they seek to become better.

If your company can provide scholarships, do so. If it can’t, openly encourage your staff to further their education.

Tell them the benefits and make it easy for them to take that action.

Do not restrain them by implementing policies which make it difficult to develop themselves.


As a manager, remember that every employee working under you is first of all human.

Treat them well.

Secondly, understand that they are in a career and would like to experience growth. Offer them the available opportunities.

As an employee, it’s important to believe in yourself and know your worth.

Do not be held hostage by a negative work environment. Pursue growth and be ready to climb up the ladder.

9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit

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