Why Your Team is Quitting (and how to keep them).

Why Your Team is Quitting (and how to keep them).
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

The world workforce has undergone an extraordinary upheaval the last few years.  The Great Resignation.  Quiet Quitting.  The new culture of Work from home.

Leaders looking to retain good talent have got to get creative.  

And yet, getting creative does not mean getting cute.  

Employees are not looking for gimmicks or perks.  Taco Tuesday just won’t cut it.

What will?

Start with this:  A recent study revealed the top three reasons US employees left their jobs last year.

According to the data:

When employees don’t see a clear path to develop or advance, they leave.

When they don’t have clear and reasonable expectations for their work, they leave.

And the top reason employees quit in 2022?

When employees don’t feel like their boss cares for them, they leave.

  • Will anyone notice if I bounce out for a week?
  • Does anyone see me?
  • No one checks in on me.
  • Who is helping me do my job better and grow as a leader?

I once worked with a client who told me upfront, “I struggle with empathy.  If my employees think I am going to listen to their problems, cry with them, and give them hugs, they are in the wrong job.”

But that’s not what caring leaders do.  Look, people are not looking for bunnies and balloons, cuddles and hugs.  But they are looking to be seen and valued.  Especially in our culture where there is more remote working, managers and leaders cannot lead remotely.  

We have to show up and care.

How can you show up to care for the people you lead?

Nine Ways To Show Up as a Caring Leader

“Everybody wants to get paid but some people desire different currency.”  —Steve Stroope 

So as you lean into your team, realize that they may experience care in different ways.  Here are 9 of them:

1. Get curious.  Take time in your one-on-ones to ask curious questions.  I always liked to ask my team questions like:

  • How are you doing?
  • What do you love most about your role here? 
  • What is one thing you think I need to hear?  
  • What are some of your personal career goals, and how can we align your work with them?  

2. Private praise.  “Catch people doing something right.”— Ken Blanchard.  When you see something, say something.  What is rewarded gets repeated.  Often leaders worry that too much praise makes people soft.  It doesn’t, as long as you tie the praise into the values and goals of the team.  

3. Public praise.  Most people prefer either public praise or private praise, not both.  I would much rather have a private conversation praising my performance than be called out in front of the group.  But others are the opposite.  So figure out which one you are dealing with.  Again, praise is a powerful culture builder.  If you want to change the culture, change the heroes. Publicly praise the people living out the values.

4. Greater access.  Some people experience care when they are invited to the table.  To higher-level conversations about what’s going on in the organization, decisions that are being made, even greater access to leaders.  Pulling a younger leader into a conversation demonstrates value.  Check out the Three Calls You Must Make to Develop Those You Lead.


5. Input.   More than just giving them access, asking them for their input.  Pick their brain about what they would do.  As a pastor, I made it a practice to invite other staff on pastoral calls, like hospital or funeral visits.  The car ride back to the office was devoted to asking them what they saw, what they would do differently.  If you want to focus on the input, use these questions.

6. Coaching.  Give them access to what the upper leadership is reading.  Invest in online courses, conferences.  If you identify an area in which they want to grow, surround them with the resources they need.  Engage a Leadership Coach to help them develop.  A consistent feedback I get in my coaching with Executives is how valued they felt by their boss and team for the investment in their career development.


7. Significance.  In this current job market, there are opportunities to quit and find more pay.  But can people always find more significance?  People need to see that they’re making a difference.  Help them.  Share stories about what’s going right in the organization.  Connect the dots between what they do and how the team needs it.  

One organization that does this well is Compassion International, a non-profit devoted to creating partnerships with children in worldwide poverty.  I am amazed at how when you talk to anyone in the organization, whether they are frontline donor development or on-site set ups, or if they are back room IT or graphic design, they all know how what they do accomplishes the mission of getting kids out of poverty.

8. Excellence. Help them do their job really well. Give them training, time, clear job expectations, and surround them with excellent team members.  Most of all, give them CLARITY so they can know what excellence looks like.

9. Flexibility.  This is the critical word today.  Working from home, unlimited PTO, creative office and schedule solutions.  The same study that revealed why people quit, also cited Workplace Flexibility as the top reason people accepted their current job.  How can you get flexible and still maintain a sense of team and accountability?

It is said that people don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses.  How can you lean in to care for your team today with the currency that pays them best?

I help leaders and teams navigate what’s next.  If I can serve you in this, reach out to me here.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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