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A Manager's Impact on Employee Turnover

October 28, 2019


Finally, after months of recruiting, screening, and interviewing candidates, you have finally found the right person! Let’s call her candidate Carol. Carol has the right skills and experience for the job, and she seems to be a good motivational fit, so you offer her the job and she accepts. After months on the job, your assumptions about Carol were correct. She is performing very well and seems to be fitting in. However, after just 18 months, Carol gives her two-week notice. Now you are left wondering what went wrong. Why is Carol quitting? You talk with Carol’s supervisor to see if he knows anything, but he says he’s not sure what went wrong either. 

Turnover is a very complex problem, without an easy answer. There are multiple factors that influence a person’s decision to leave an organization. Nonetheless, one study by Gallup found that 50% of the 7,272 participants left their job to get away from their managers. Okay, great! Now we know that Carol’s supervisor may have been the problem...but why? What is it that her supervisor did or didn’t do that caused her to leave?  

Employee engagement and commitment can be affected by the amount of employee-supervisor communication.

Gallup’s study shows that employees are more engaged when their managers actively communicate with them. Either by having in-person meetings or communicating through emails or phone, employees like to feel that their managers are keeping them informed. One aspect of this communication piece is for the manager to set clear expectations and goals for their employees. If employees are unclear about their duties and responsibilities, they may become disconnected. Another survey conducted by Gallup found that when employees meet, either formally or informally, with their manager to see how their efforts align with the organization’s goals they are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged 

Furthermore, employees are more engaged when they feel they can speak openly with their managerEmployees who feel it is safe to voice their opinion, challenge others ideas, and share information are more engaged. It’s important that employees can trust their supervisors or managers and be open and honest with them.  

Employees like to feel that their manager is invested in them as a person.

Therefore, it is beneficial for managers to talk with their employees about matters outside of their work responsibilities. Occasionally talking about more personal matters such as their hobbies and family will help build a more personal relationship. Employees don’t want to feel like another piece in the puzzle, this is especially true for the younger workforce. Gallup has found that 62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now. 

Turnover is not an easy problem to solvebut the phrase "people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss" exist for a reason. In order for organizations to retain their top talent, it is important that they take a close look at their leadership.  

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Cassandra Walter Cassandra Walter is a Consulting Associate located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She works with clients across many different industries, including manufacturing, retail, customer service, and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.