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Why Do Good Employees Leave?

 Why Do Good Employees Leave?


The Great Resignation doesn’t appear to be letting up, and its implications will be hitting companies for the foreseeable future. But a company’s leaders are especially challenged with retaining talent as their employees’ head for the door more than ever before.

While some turnover is inevitable and healthy for the organization, it is possible to retain many of the good employees. These are the employees that you really want to keep because they are key contributors to the team. These types of employees can also have leadership potential for the future, making them especially valuable. But what makes a good employee?

To identify an employee with potential, you should also evaluate their performance over time, their potential, and their readiness to take on new responsibilities in the future.

In this blog, you’ll learn why good employees leave and discover best practices leaders can use to keep their best team members.


Many workers are ready to quit because of burnout.
Burnout is especially insidious for employers because it affects your most engaged, highest-performing employees. You can't burn out if you don't care in the first place.

Listening to employees, through one-on-one conversations and company-wide surveys, can uncover how widespread burnout is, what's causing it, and how to mitigate it. From there, you can roll out measures to address burnout--like mental health days, burnout sabbaticals, or redistributing employees' workloads.

Their Manager’s Behaviour

One of the outcomes of working during the pandemic is that employees have more choices about where and how they work. This has caused many employees to rethink their career ambitions and their personal values.

It’s widely accepted that most people don’t leave organizations, they leave leaders.

Some of the managerial behaviors that can cause good employees to leave are:

  • The managers are generally hard to reach, meaning their employees feel exposed.
  • They leave the managing to others, meaning they aren’t adding as much value as they could be because they aren’t as present.
  • The managers micromanage everyone, giving the impression that they have low-to-no trust in their team. Or the micromanaging happens because the managers are full of their own self-importance. And this can result in their employees thinking, “If you’re so smart, then you figure it out.”
  • They might schedule too many unproductive meetings, wasting valuable time which just frustrates people.

Employees aren’t looking for their boss to also be their best friend, but they do expect to work for someone who appreciates and treats them like individuals. Simple things—like taking the time to ask about weekend plans, remembering the names of an employee’s children, and celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries—go a long way.

Their Manager’s Attitude

Managers favoring certain employees for promotions and assignments is a sure-fire way to make other employees feel unsatisfied and resentful. No one wants to feel like they are at an unfair disadvantage at work.

Likewise, when the manager ignores difficult team members and the problems they cause, this can frequently frustrate strong performers. These strong performers may dread coming to work for fear of having to deal with their toxic coworkers. And this can lead to unhappiness on the job and is a big reason why good employees leave.

Additionally, a manager’s negative attitude is contagious. So, when a manager complains and drags their feet, then they can expect the same from their team members. If a manager expects buy-in from their team on important projects or changes, they need to give them a reason to care. The manager needs to display the level of enthusiasm that they would like to see from their team.

Managers who value staff retention enable employees to expand their knowledge and abilities. They understand that the best employees have a growth mindset. And they also know the best employees are interested in taking on new projects, learning about career development opportunities, and even earning professional certifications.

The 7 Most Predictive Factors of Engagement and Long-Term Retention

The impact of losing a very talented member of the team is high. Their departure may trigger others to follow. And at a minimum, it will slow down team momentum.

To keep the impact of these losses to a minimum, there are seven factors that are most predictive of engagement and long-term retention. In order of most impact, they are:

  • Employees know what constitutes good performance in their role.
  • Employees have a clear understanding of their future career path in the organization.
  • Employees feel that their direct manager genuinely cares about their wellbeing.
  • Employees have a high-quality development plan.
  • Employees receive effective coaching from their manager.
  • Employees get feedback on their skills.
  • Employees have access to the information and tools needed to do their job well.

It’s essential to make sure employees feel appreciated and that they are recognized in front of their peers. But it’s also important to make sure that the way that it is done is a good fit for your company culture. The team member should also feel comfortable with how they are being recognized.

Great Leaders Make All the Difference

In these challenging times every leader makes an impact. Do you know if your leaders are contributing to the Great Resignation? Or are your leaders motivating and engaging their team members to not only stay—but also enabling their productivity?

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.

Lauren O'Donnell
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