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3 Reasons Employees Leave

March 10, 2019 | Posted by: Ask Ana Cruz

This week, we feature our guest blog from Agnes Watkison, president of AMC Services

Agnes is a successful entrepreneur with multiple business’ in the Construction and Real Estate industry. Her main practice is a boutique Talent Acquisition firm focusing on roles in Canada and the US for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC). With a mixed bag of experiences and education in Psychology and Construction Management, coupled with her aptitude for business, Agnes launched AMC Services in 2015. With its unique focus on customer service, partnership models and project forecasting, AMC Services has successfully grown year after year since its inception. Coupling this rapid success with a desire to give back led AMC Services to launch NextGen Professional, a sister company aimed at connecting students, graduates, and entry level professionals with employers and leadership development training in the AEC industry. 

 3 Reasons We Will Leave You

These days the candidate market is hot, really hot. We know because our team is on a continual quest to source candidates who are: 

a)    Willing to move

b)    Willing to move for a fair rate

c)    Willing to accept offers and not renegotiate on counteroffers

So how do you hold onto your staff with teams like mine reaching out and contacting your staff? How do you hold onto your quality employees when they learn there are fantastic opportunities out there?

Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers, but what we do have is general feedback. General feedback on why candidates left in the first place. This is critical information we can use to create a map or a guideline for companies to follow. Here are some major reasons we have identified as to why employees leave and some of our suggestions to keep them around.

Overhaul Salary Expectations

Each industry is different in terms of roles and the associated salary ranges per role. We also understand there are necessary internal salary structures in place for each company. These internal structures are usually dictated by size, profit, services etc. Majority of our candidates that want to leave, leave because they feel they are underpaid. So how do you assess if you are underpaying your employees?

  • It would be wise to revisit those internal structures to ensure they are still market relevant. We are currently working with a large expanding company that realized…whoops…they weren’t staying competitive. So here is what we did.
    • One way we were able to address this major pit fall to hiring qualified candidates was taking the time to talk to the best of the best. Use your TA firm or your inhouse HR team to reach out to your dream candidates. Ask them their general range for; base salary, bonus, vacation time, vehicle, RRSP, benefits, and other perks. Everything counts as part of the overall package. The answers will vary but you will get a comprehensive idea of what you will need to increase to stay competitive.
    • Note: if you are the owner or upper management of a company with numerous connections. Talk to your friendly competitors. Ask them what they are paying for these roles. Check in to see if your competition is being more marketable then you.

Keeping Track and Performance Evaluations

So now you know where the market is, and you know how much you need to increase to keep your staff happy. How do you know which employees get the raises and which employees shouldn’t? Regular check-ins and performance evaluations are a strong and vital part of any operation. It’s also one of the most neglected and heart felt issues we hear about during our interviews. I will showcase two examples below.

  • Example 1:John worked himself to the bone 60-70 hours a week for 6 weeks straight twice last year. He did this in March (Q1) but his review and evaluation weren’t until December (Q4). The manager slaps him on the back in March for making the effort and reaching the deadlines. However, in December, while rushing to complete the review paperwork, the manager misses one or both incidents altogether. John gets his raise of 3% inflation with minimal bonus. The resentment and anger start, head-hunters call, John resigns. 
  • Example 2:Sam worked on the same projects as John. Sam only ever works 40 hour weeks. He doesn’t believe in overtime and he knows his employment contract dictates 40-hour work weeks with no overtime offered. Sam knows that the team is strong and will pick up the slack. He goes home. The manager does not slap him on the back in March but is generally happy for the team making the effort and reaching the deadlines. However, in December, while rushing to complete the review paperwork, the manager forgets that Sam was not as involved as John. Sam gets his raise of 3% inflation with minimal bonus. Sam is glad he got the same bonus as John.
    • Regular check-ups and reviews are not a bad idea. The resignation could have been mitigated all together if the policy dictated quarterly check ups. This does not have to mean full scale reviews for 1 hour. It could mean a 15-30 min chat with your employees to learn their challenges, interest level, success stories, anything really. The data that is accumulated over all quarters is relevant, fresh and a pattern of characteristics you can later use to define traits. 
    • Note: Staying up to date and engaged with your employees means they will stay engaged with you and your company. Implementing regular check ups can build loyalty.

Traffic Jams – life as a Commuter

This is one of the largest reasons we see candidates leaving. They can’t stand the commute anymore. With the GTA growing rapidly and the volume of cars plaguing the highways, commute times are skyrocketing. Employees are leaving early in the morning, coming home late, disrupting quite time, family time, leisure time, downtime! It’s a spiralling nightmare. We have had a number of candidates take pay cuts based primarily on reducing their commute times. So, what can you do? How do you help your employees get back to their families and lives for a greater work/life balance?

These options wont work for everyone, but if you have the ability to implement, please try:

  • Remote work: evaluate each role and see which ones can be done remotely. Technology is incredible these days and there is virtually every software and program out there to help implement this change. Do the leg work or call a consultant to research the roles and get your people out of the office. Start small, work from home once a week and maybe have everyone pick the best day they can work from home. Ensure different departments are covered by staggering when everyone has their one day a week out of the office. Give the company a trial period. This will invigorate and reinvest everyone in their work. Despite what employers think, if you give employees a trial period and say “if productivity and results go down after 4 weeks we are not implementing.” Guess what! Everyone will work their tush off to ensure they keep this luxury. Increase frequency to twice per week and monitor the productivity. 
    • Note: did you know it takes an average of 20 mins to re-engage and refocus deeply on a task once you have been interrupted? Most office spaces are open concept with “open door” policies. Not always the best. Unbridled access to staff members means they can be continuously interrupted with phone calls, emails, or other staff members wanting to chat or discuss work. Working from home can give them the quiet space they need to dig into their tasks uninterrupted. 

Strong teams are hard to build, but they are the cornerstone of a prosperous company.  The above examples may not apply to you, you may have other challenges, or you may simply wish to ensure your team is engaged, happy, and productive.  Whatever your situation, we can help.  Over a relatively short period of time, AMC Services have heard it all with respect to the happy and the unhappy. We have heard it across all levels of an organization (yes, even C-suite execs can want to change things up at times!).  We would be happy to discuss this topic further with you and explore the challenges and methods of creating and maintaining a strong team for your business.

Agnes Watkinson – President


Robert Chlebowski – Director




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