6 reasons why Singapore employees are leaving their bosses

Singapore Business Review
Published: 29 Oct 13
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services


The cost of a new hire is certainly escalating in Singapore and this will only be exacerbated by the manpower crunch resulting from a progressively tight labour market.

Save the time, effort and money in replacing lost talent by seeking to first understand why your employees are leaving your company. Here are six possible reasons why your people are leaving you.

Bad Managers

You have probably heard the well-known saying that employees don’t leave companies – they leave managers. All too often, a lousy manager is one of the top push factors behind a resignation.

Imagine the frustration of an employee working under a supervisor with an ineffective management style such as a tendency to give unclear instructions, or the failure to communicate precise expectations of the employee. Or a manager who plays favourites or has a personal bias against an employee.

Worse still, if a manager treats his subordinates like machines built to spew work output and completely disregards the human being within. Simply put, the importance of nurturing good leaders within the various levels of your organisation cannot be understated.

Companies usually promote a worker to a supervisory role because the individual had turned in a stellar performance. However, there is a vast difference between the hard skills required to achieve those results, and the soft skills needed to manage people effectively.

Thus, employers may find that while the individual had performed admirably in his previous role, the newly minted manager’s effectiveness as a leader could be impaired by a lack of soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills.

To get the best out of your employees, it would be wise to send new managers for training to address such skills gaps so that they are well equipped to build and lead strong teams.


Unrealistic Workloads

Juggling multiple portfolios is becoming the new norm, as multitasking is the unavoidable upshot of rising business costs in Singapore.

The country may be known for its working culture where clocking overtime is almost to be expected but if your employees are stuck in the office for more than 10 hours each day trying to clear their work, you need to ask yourself if the workload is unrealistic.

As an employer, you may be saving costs in the short term by hiring less staff but in the long run, it will take its toll on your employees’ health and result in absenteeism.

Eventually, your employees will just quit and you will be back to square one pumping resources into restarting the recruitment cycle as you search for their replacements.


Lack of Vision

As the boss or manager, you may have a vision for your company but have you communicated it clearly to your staff and more importantly, is there buy-in?

Successful managers sell their employees on a vision of the future. What common goal or mission is everyone in the organisation working towards?

Most employees do not jump out of bed looking forward to the workday if they are just working to achieve sales targets to make the company rich.

People need to find meaning in their work and feel like they are working for a greater purpose. So as a manager, you should provide your staff with work that is challenging yet meaningful in order to engage them around a powerful mission and purpose.


Lack of Recognition

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. This is a simple fact of life and it really does not take much to acknowledge your employees’ efforts.

It can be as simple as leaving a handwritten note on his table to thank him for working late in order to complete a project on time, praising him in front of the big boss for a job well done, or treating your team to lunch for achieving their monthly sales targets.

You will be amazed at how such small gestures can lift employee morale and help make your organisation a great place to work.


No Action, Talk Only

In our society, there is colloquial expression called “NATO”, which stands for “No Action, Talk Only”. If you preach certain mission, vision, values and other guidelines that employees are expected to follow, then you will need to ensure that the management walks the talk.

For example, if you encourage your staff to offer general feedback or suggestions on how to improve operations, you need to take these recommendations seriously and take action to improve the situation.

Failing which, you will not only create a frustrated workforce but also miss out on potential time and cost-saving innovations that your employees may come up with.


No Future

Nobody wants to be stagnant in his or her career. Good talent, especially, want to know where their career is heading, and whether their current role will take them closer to achieving their career objectives.

Creating a roadmap for career advancement can serve as a key retention strategy. This point is even more pertinent in today’s transient employment market, and is particularly prevalent amongst Gen Y workers.

As the boss or HR leader, your job is to create clearly defined career paths and ensure that these are well communicated to and understood by your employees.

At times, even with regular performance reviews, employees often don’t understand how they can move horizontally or vertically in an organisation. So you must find ways to make clear to them how they can move forward in line with their career objectives.

Despite your best efforts, however, people will still leave your organisation. Do not lose the precious opportunity to find out the reasons for his departure via an exit interview.

By asking such questions in a non-confrontational manner, your company can glean valuable information on its areas of weakness, seek to improve them, and benefit from lower staff turnover rates.


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