Career advancement? Bigger salary? Better bonuses? New opportunities? It’s got to be something like that, right? A 2011 survey by Towers Watson (1) asked HR managers why their best people quit.  They came up with five possibilities, none of them surprising – except that they were all wrong.

When the researchers asked 10,000 employees why they left their jobs, the top reason amongst top performers was stress – yet none of the HR people put that on their list, even though 65% of them acknowledged their employees had been working longer hours over the last 3 years and would probably have to continue doing so for the next three.

So what does that tell us?  It tells us that the issue and potential impact of workplace stress is still being ignored.  It doesn’t even figure on the radar.

You may think it’s not such a big deal if employees – even high performers – quit during an economic downturn.  But despite the economic situation, the number of employers reporting difficulty in finding people with the right skills is on the rise (from 16% in 2009 to 31% in 2011 according to Towers Watson). And any company which is gradually losing all its best people will not be best positioned to exploit the upturn when the green shoots of recovery eventually start to show – as they will.

According to Forbes (2), employers need to start paying more attention to retention – and that means taking action to reduce employee stress “instead of burning workers to a crisp”.  Well said.  Want to know how to do it, so you can hang on to your best people?   Find out more about my training and consultancy services which can help you to reap the rewards of tackling stress and presenteeism in your organisation.


(1) Towers Watson: The 2011/2012 Talent Management and Rewards Study, North America.