Obviously ranking right at the top of the list is redundancy. No surprises there; the industry is renowned for it's excellent redundancy rate! However, once you take redundancy out of the equation and look at the other significant reasons there are some clear take home messages for companies.
People want to progress in their career and they feel they're not getting it where they are currently. So they move on to greener pastures.
Money is not the be all and end all it used to be. Where once a company might throw money at someone to convince them to stay put, this is no longer the case. Job satisfaction is increasingly becoming just as important for many people. Especially younger employees. As an employer, if you aren't providing this then you can expect some of your staff to move on. It's also been shown that where companies adopt a coaching and development attitude to performance management that helps employees grow and improve, instead of the dreaded 'annual appraisal' often with its link to annual salary reviews, they're far more likely to retain employees. And high performing ones at that.
People leave for personal or family reasons.
"Personal" covers a whole range of reasons including pregnancy, stress, age, and so on. People may also leave if a company moves into areas that breach their beliefs around issues like the environment, OH and S or even union and labour relationships. If an employer knows what the reason or reasons are they could try to work out a satisfactory solution that will encourage the employee to stay. Paid parental / maternity leave is one option for pregnant employees, generally mandated by law in many countries.
Family reasons – it may be possible to work with the employee to come to some arrangement that resolves this for them. Female employees with young families for example who are finding it hard to raise a family and work may appreciate being employed by a company that provides child care services, or subsidises this for employees. Some companies with a fair percentage of female employees offer crèche and other childcare facilities, which help them retain valuable female employees who have young children. Being flexible about hours and rosters so that people can juggle family responsibilities with a job is also a pro-active approach that is paying dividends for many companies. Ultimately, if companies want to retain employees they may need to start thinking outside the square and consider alternatives to the standard 9-5 work day.
They left to take up a better-paid job. One of the reasons many small mining companies went under towards the end of the last boom has been attributed to the unrealistic salaries people were getting paid. When wages and salaries are eating up most of your profits it does tend to make projects uneconomical. This is a scenario most pundits are hoping doesn't happen this time round. Certainly many companies are now very wary about entering into talent bidding wars because they can get out of hand very quickly and result in some ridiculous wages being paid for relatively basic positions. Therefore, whilst a company may be able to offer to up someone's salary if they're leaving and see if that convinces them to stay, the value that person brings to the company, and obviously the job they fill, needs to be carefully weighed against the extra money they'll be getting paid.
They left because the job does not meet their expectations. This generally happens when the job description provided when they originally applied for the job was either not correct, or the job itself has subsequently changed. If it's a case of the job description not being accurate for the position being advertised, the employer clearly needs to review their recruitment processes to ensure that job descriptions are accurate. If the job has changed since the person was employed, ensuring that such changes are discussed with them well before they happen may prevent them from leaving.
Clashes with the boss and other inter professional conflicts are other significant reasons people leave a job. In this case direct line managers may need to get involved and see if there is some way the situation can be managed. Or consider moving the employee to another department.
There are also different motivations for leaving jobs, and the industry, between genders. An MiHR study found that although both men and women cite life style and work balance as the major reason for moving on, men are far more likely to move on because they want a change, they're not happy with their remuneration or they don't like the uncertainty and job volatility. For women, the primary motivators for finding new jobs or leaving the industry are raising a family, stress, and issues with remuneration. Interestingly concern over pay is only 3rd and 4th respectively on this list, which correlates with what we mentioned at the start about money not being the solution to staff retention!
Why does employee retention matter? In many industries it's aligned with business success. For the mining industry with its looming talent shortage, being able to retain quality staff could also mean the difference between the success and failure of a project, especially for the smaller players.