Main Causes of Turnover and Institutional Knowledge Loss

Exiting employees

Understanding the root causes of turnover is key to preventing it.

The top causes include:

  • Lack of career development and advancement opportunities
  • Poor compensation and benefits
  • Minimal training and onboarding
  • Lack of recognition and feedback
  • Poor relationships with manager/leadership
  • Feeling devalued or insignificant
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Lack of autonomy and empowerment
  • Unclear performance expectations
  • Lack of communication and transparency
  • Poor or negative company culture
  • Feeling "stuck" in role with no options to transfer/promote

Any HR analyst worth their salt, (and we have some of the best on our staff), would stress the importance of uncovering the root causes of employee turnover in your organization. Stop guessing and get to analyzing.  While exit interviews provide the most candid insights after the fact, statistical analysis of your workforce data can reveal predictive trends before retention becomes an issue. Here are some pro-tips from our analysts:

Review historical turnover figures - are specific teams, roles, or managers above average? Look for patterns.

Analyze time-to-hire and ramp-up periods for new hires. Longer durations indicate greater loss of productivity.

Compare salary bands and performance ratings of those who left versus stayed. Inequities often drive departures.

Factor in tenure alongside age and demographics. Are longer-tenured employees more or less likely to resign?

Look for correlations linking absenteeism, lower engagement scores, and policy violations to subsequent turnover. Disengagement precedes departure.

Statistically, does more turnover follow specific events like mergers, leadership changes, or new technology rollouts? Change management matters.

While statistics help us quantify the problem, conversations provide the color. Well-conducted exit interviews uncover unmet expectations, culture misalignment, insufficient development opportunities and other root causes. An unbiased third party interviewer yields the most candid insights.

Combining hard workforce analytics with qualitative data from open-ended interviews allows us to diagnose why turnover happens. This powers targeted retention strategies addressing the real underlying issues, not just symptoms.

Capturing and retaining institutional knowledge remains a challenge. Tools like knowledge management systems and wikis, thorough documentation, onboarding training, mentorships and cross-training can help but are incomplete solutions. The reality is no database can replace what a person knows intuitively from their own experiences. This makes employee retention critical.


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