How can I find out why my staff are leaving?


Dear Aunty B,


I have had a week’s holiday and instead of mucking around with the kids I spent most of my time worried about why my staff keep being poached by my competitors. I have checked what the competitors are offering and it is comparable to my salaries. I also feel like I have a good boss (flexible working hours, coffee machine, etc) so I am not sure what’s wrong. Can you help?


Pete Stocco



Dear Pete,


Short of ringing all your ex staff up, how would I know?


Look, staff leave for three reasons.


In a nutshell:

  1. They don’t like where they work. They hate you and when you leave at night they let out a collective cheer; they think the culture stinks, they are bored by the work and they can’t stand their colleagues.
  2. They feel stuck. They feel like they are not learning anything new, not gaining more experience or seniority and not building on their skill base.
  3. They feel cheated: ie they are not being fairly compensated for what they do.

None of this apply to you?

Time to ask the hard questions.

On culture, ask:

  1. Imagine you could change one thing about our company. What would that be?
  2. What other changes would you make to the company?
  3. What do you like the most about this company?
  4. What do you like the least?
  5. How do you feel about the job I am doing?
  6. If there was something you would change about me, what would it be?
  7. How do you feel about the relationship with your manager?
  8. Is there anything you would change about that relationship?
  9. Is there anything you would like your manager to do more/less of?


To find out if they feel stuck, ask:

  1. Do you feel challenged in your job?
  2. Do you feel you get the support/mentoring you need to take the next step in our company?
  3. Do you feel you have the technology to do your job properly?
  4. Do you receive enough feedback about your performance and how to improve?
  5. Are you clear about the next steps you need to take to reach a more senior position?

Do they feel cheated? Ask:

  1. What do you think about the salary you are getting?
  2. What do you feel about the hours you work?
  3. Do you feel the company has a good/performance reward structure?
  4. Are you satisfied with the company’s merit policy?
  5. Is working for this company helping you achieve your long term financial goals?

Don’t just ask these questions in exit interviews. Ask them before they leave. Now go back to your holiday and play with the kids. You have a plan of attack for Monday!




Aunty B




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