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Talent Development Advice - Why and When Employees Leave Their Jobs


In the recent Harvard Business Review there was an interesting article on why, how and when employees leave their companies.

The study was important to note since organizations should take notice that there has been a dramatic shift in power from employers to job seekers. This will have major impact on employee retention and succession planning as more employees look for better opportunities.

The HBR article: Setting The Record Straight On Quitting Jobs referenced a recruiting software Entelo analysis that showed how mobile the job seeker market is becoming. Here are some of the insights that their analysis showed:

Conventional wisdom has always been that employees begin to consider leaving after they have reached the four year milestone. The Entelo analysis shows that more people are leaving after one year versus any other time.In fact, 10 times as many people leave after one year as in five years.

Recruiters now see the labor market being 90% candidate driven. This is dramatically up versus 54% in 2011.

The peak times for people leaving is around anniversaries - influenced by finances (waiting for vesting and bonus qualification) and psychology (appeal of round numbers and peer comparisons).

Employees are most open to listening to recruiters a few months before an upcoming anniversary.

What should employers do? Here are some recommendations:

  • Talent development programs should have robust onboarding process that will deliver a a great first year experience for the new employee. As the Entelo study points out, the stigma of leaving after one year is diminishing. 
  • More frequent, less formal performance review discussions are very important - especially leading up to anniversaries. Employees want to be appreciated and recognized for their work. Staying in closer contact will help.