4 Reasons Your Employees Are Quitting


One of my family’s favorite movies is Christmas Family Vacation. One of the subplots of the movie is Clark Griswold putting money down on a pool because he was expecting his annual Christmas bonus. When he gets a jelly and jam box subscription, he goes into all-out meltdown mode and tries to quit.  

And can you blame him?  

In fact, the connection between expectations and retention is one of the most powerful conclusions our research has revealed.  

And it makes sense.  

We all have expectations at work.  

Sometimes those expectations are good and healthy. Sometimes they are unrealistic and dangerous. And other times the expectations aren’t necessarily good or bad, but they just never get talked about. Those are the most dangerous.  

Our employees have their own realistic and unrealistic expectations.  

The key is to determine what those expectations are and help correct the bad ones and fortify the good ones.  

Whenever we onboard a new employee, we ask them to write out their top three expectations for working with us. These could include their professional development schedule, their compensation, their access to clients or their level of responsibility.  

We write out our three expectations for them - which are the same for all of our team members:

  • Think and act like the company is yours - because it is.
  • Serve our clients like they are your best friends and treat your teammates like they’re family (the family that you like).
  • Commit to your personal growth, not take yourself too seriously, and be honest about your ideas, dreams, and concerns.

Then we come together and discuss what both of our expectations are, and determine whether or not they are realistic, appropriate and healthy.  

We do this for a number of reasons.  

First, I am not a mind reader. If someone comes in to work for me, I cannot assume I know what their goals are. I need them to share their thoughts, dreams and concerns with me.  

Second, I want them to know that I have high expectations for them. An employee who feels trusted will work harder and more passionately than an employee who doesn’t feel you believe in them.  

And finally, I want us to have a baseline for feedback in the future. If an employee isn’t meeting my expectations for them, I will go back to our expectations document and ask them if they believe we are both living up to our sides of the agreement.  

Your employees will quit if their expectations are not met.  

Those expectations fall into four categories:  

1. Compensation  

How much will they be getting paid now and in the future?  

How often can they expect a raise or a bonus?  

What can they expect to make in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?  

2. Responsibility  

What kind of decision-making power will they have now and in the future?  

How can they prove they are ready for a promotion?  

What does “ownership” look like, and how is it rewarded?  

3. Lifestyle  

How will working for you intersect with their personal life?  

What does work-life realistically look like?  

What are examples of people who work from home, have taken time off to grow a family, or have flexible work hours?  

4. Development  

Will they be given a mentor, or should they look for one themselves?  

Is there a budget for professional development?  

What can they expect to learn and be proficient in their first year on the job?

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