Why Employees Plan to Leave Their Jobs at Small Businesses

April 15, 2016 Pete Jansons

While companies of all sizes welcome recent improvements in the economy, this upswing could spell trouble in terms of employee retention. A recent CareerBuilder survey shows that 13 percent of employees at small businesses (500 employees or less) resolved to find a new job in 2016, while 30 percent of employees at small businesses say they are likely or very likely to change jobs this year.

As most employers know all too well, turnover can be costly. Vacant positions reduce overall productivity, recruitment efforts consume time, and new hires require training and extra supervision to get up to speed. Team dynamics may be disrupted by the loss, especially in small environments. Remaining employees may become stressed or unhappy about picking up the slack, and both staff and management may lament losing someone who brought unique contributions or leadership to the company.

Increasing salary certainly can be a way to try to keep workers from looking elsewhere, but don’t assume raises will solve everything. When CareerBuilder asked what factors rank as more important than salary when considering a position, employees at small businesses said:

  • Job stability (64 percent)
  • Location (57 percent)
  • Affordable benefits (50 percent)
  • Good work culture (47 percent)
  • Ability to offer flexible schedules (41 percent)

Obviously, companies cannot always offer everything employees may want. However, many employers are upping their efforts to retain talent. When CareerBuilder asked what (if anything) they planned to do to lower turnover rates this year, employers gave the following answers:

  • Invest in training
  • Offer flexible schedules
  • Increase salaries
  • Have more career path discussions with employees
  • Pay for continuing education expenses for employees
  • Offer non-traditional perks
  • Increase social/recreational activities for employees


Take a good look at your own situation to consider what retention efforts might work for your employees. Discussing the company’s future with a young go-getter, for instance, may help her think long term about her career path at the firm. Exploring the possibility of telecommuting two days a week may keep employees with long commutes from seeking positions closer to home. Half-day Fridays during the summer may do wonders for overall morale. These are just a few options available.

Unsure which measures would be most effective for engaging your employees? Just ask. (No sense subsidizing a gym membership nobody intends to use.) Some suggestions may be surprisingly easy to implement, such as a more casual dress code or monthly potluck lunches. And seeking input raises employee engagement, because it shows you truly care about their wants and needs, which in and of itself contributes to better retention rates.


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