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    Why Do People Leave?

    By: Jeff Gau
    November 7, 2019

    We have a good culture. People like working here. We validate it through our annual employee survey process (93% participation rate). Almost all tell us they like and trust their supervisor, which has proven to be a key indicator of employee retention in workplace studies.

    We work hard at building a culture that people want to be a part of, and we don’t take it for granted. But people still decide to leave. As leaders of high-performing organizations, we can feel like we are doing all the right things. At Marco, we’d like to think we’re unique. Yet, that does not prevent us from having turnover.


    Every other week, I greet a group of new employees, eager to start their careers at Marco. Many of them are replacing people who have left for one reason or another, and in some cases were asked to leave.

    Our average turnover rate continues to be less than industry and national averages. While there are times when I’d like it be to lower, I also recognize that new talent is good for an organization. They bring new energy, perspective and ideas that help us continuously improve and grow.

    I also have learned that just because people leave does not mean we did something wrong. Many of our past employees still speak fondly about their time at Marco, and many of them work for our customers and are our biggest fans.

    So why do people leave?

    • They’re interested in a new career path.
      There are times when employees want to try out a totally different career path that they cannot find inside the organization. We have had employees leave to fulfill dreams of being realtors, financial advisors, entrepreneurs and stay-at-home parents.

    • They don’t feel their jobs align with the organization’s focus or strategy.
      Many industries are seeing significant shifts and the roles that employees once played are changing. A good example is the banking industry where online and ATM transactions have changed the role of the bank teller. As leaders, we need to be proactive in our communication with people in changing roles, talking about possibilities and helping them see their future in our organization.

    • The grass looks greener.
      A new opportunity can feel like a better opportunity, and sometimes that might be the case. Often times, people will leave and then come back, maybe even in a different role. They realize our company was a better fit for them and maybe the grass wasn’t greener after all. We keep the door open for these boomerang employees.


    There are proactive steps that all organizations should take to retain employees. Some best practices include:

    • Survey employees on a consistent basis and ask direct questions about how you are doing, provide feedback and take action on the responses.

    • Offer respectful workplace training to promote a healthy environment. This is a new company-wide initiative of ours that has been received very positively by our team members.

    • Ask employees how they see their future and help them determine how it aligns with opportunities within the organization.

    • Educate employees on promotable behaviors so they recognize what they can do to advance their careers. I personally provide this training to all new employees.

    • Continue to train your managers so they grow their interpersonal skills and are on the same page with regard to employee retention. All new Marco managers complete an initial training series, and we continue to identify and implement other professional opportunities and tools for personal development.

    As leaders, it is hard to say goodbye to great employees. But the best leaders want what’s best for the individual – even if that means he or she moves on to serve another organization. Finding and keeping good employees is still one of the most important parts of my job, and it should be yours too.

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