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Why Do Your Staff Quit Their Jobs?

by Caroline Cooper
February 2011

As it gets increasingly harder to find skilled people to fill the positions it makes sense to hang on to the good employees.

The hospitality industry has always had one of the highest labour turnover rates of any sector of the economy. In the UK alone it is estimated that this costs the industry somewhere in the region of £880 million per annum. So what can be done to reduce labour turnover?

Why are they leaving?
First of all unless we understand why staff leaving it will be difficult to reverse the trend. The most effective way to identify this is to conduct a confidential exit interview.

They say that people don't quit jobs they quit bosses, so if this is the case the interview is best conducted by someone other than the employees line manager; it's unlikely that you're going to learn the truth if the line manager is asking the question. Not many people have the guts to tell their boss they think that they are a lousy manager! This of course may not always be possible if you have only a small team, but at the very least a sit down with the employee to find out as much as possible about the employee's motives for leaving. Although it might be too late to change the mind of this employee, it might allow you time to address the problem to prevent the same thing happening again and again.
More money
If the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition. But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package.

Money is often just a contributing factor, and may not be the sole reason. Reflect on what is important to this particular employee and highlight to them where they might lose some of the other benefits, incentives or aspects of the job that are important to them. These might be less tangible aspects such as the opportunity for responsibility, experimenting and trying out new ideas, teamwork, pride in doing a quality job, or recognition. The grass is often greener on the other side and sometimes people can be lured by an attractive salary to compensate for less favourable working conditions or reduced opportunities for development.
You won't be able to accommodate everyone's aspirations particularly if you're a small hotel, and if people have genuinely reached a ceiling and can only move on if they leave then it is only right that they have the opportunity to do so.

However, if they're moving for career progression, development or experience, is this something that you could a given them but just didn't make them aware of the opportunities? What can you do future to ensure that all your team get the recognition and development they need for their career progression? Are there internal opportunities, either in your own establishment, or, if you are part of the group, in other sites? Why do they feel that they need to move to get this progression? Having clear processes in place to identify potential, develop people and encourage internal promotion will help to keep your talent in-house. However, don't be tempted to make promises that you are unable to keep.

There will be times when people are tempted to move to more senior roles for which they may not yet be ready. You won't necessarily be able to stop these people jumping into the role where they may be out of their depth, but certainly if they have had the opportunity to talk about their strengths and weaknesses and are aware of the prospects internally you might at least minimise the risk.
A poor work environment and atmosphere caused by friction amongst the team is often the reason that people leave. Bullying, harassment, unexpected demands can all contribute. If this stems from other members of staff, are you even aware that these things are happening? Do you have policies in place for handling grievances, are employees are encouraged to report problems, and when they do are they dealt with sensitively?
Poor leadership
Are you, your department heads or your team leaders the problem and the reason that people leave? This might stem from a lack of direction and no clear or consistent message and what is expected of them. It could be through lack of support or being unreceptive to ideas or concerns. Or it might be through lack of recognition, no feedback on their contribution, not being allowed to take responsibility or trusted to get on with things. It could be a combination of any of these.
Reflect on what you (or your managers and supervisors) need to do to change. Find out what are the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach.


Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years’ experience in business and leadership development, and founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the Hotel Success Handbook. She is also creator of the Foundations in Leadership online leadership programme for hospitality managers, bringing a brand new approach to hospitality leadership development.


Caroline Cooper 
Zeal Coaching 
tel:  +44 (0)7887 540914

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Also See: How to Get the Best from your Seasonal Staff / Caroline Cooper / December 2010

How To Maintain A Happy And Motivated Hospitality Team / Caroline Cooper / November 2010

Communicating with Your Team: Are You on the Same Page & Does Everyone Know the Score? / Caroline Cooper / November 2010

Is - No News, Good News - for Your Team? Employees Need Feedback to Become Great at their Jobs / Caroline Cooper / October 2010

Nip it in the Bud ~ Dealing with Poor Work Performance / Caroline Cooper / September 2010

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