Why Star Employees Quit: It’s Time to Fix These Workplace Culture Fails

Companies need to identify gaps in workplace culture that are forcing good employees to quit

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

No matter the industry or profession, culture can be transformative. A strong culture that prioritizes the experience of employees has been linked to better innovation, talent retention, and even improved financial outcomes. What’s more, in a positive work environment, creativity, productivity and happiness go up while stress levels go down. Simply put, company culture can unleash an organization’s capacity to thrive. But all too often, culture gets overlooked.

We asked our Thrive community what was missingfrom the culture at a former job — and ultimately played a role in their decision to find new ones. Here are four workplace culture fails that made star employees leave.

The pressure to always be “on”

“A few years back, in order to keep my job, I was offered an opportunity to relocate to Portugal and join the overseas team. I took a step back because I needed to decide whether I wanted to stay with a company that expected all members of its staff to be available in different time zones, even if it meant taking calls or joining weekly meetings after midnight. So I refused the offer. After almost three years at the company, I realized the ‘always on’ culture wasn’t going to change, and it was up to me to move forward.”

—Marcio Delgado, global content producer and influencer marketing campaign manager, Vienna, Austria

Little space for independent thinking

“I worked for a company where employees couldn’t work in their own unique ways. If you had a manager who did things a certain way, that meant that you had to do things the same way. In the end, we spent 70 percent of our time working on things that did not contribute to achieving organizational objectives, because most managers were so invested in the details of each task. It was a waste of energy, and contributed to high burnout rates.”

—Nadja El Fertasi, CEO, Brussels, Belgium 

Lack of trust 

“There was an aspect of trust that was missing at my former job. Without management being clear with expectations or consistent with providing the truth, there is no trust.”

—Brigitte Cutshall, solutions consultant, Atlanta, GA

Failure to put employees first

“I once joined a company where it took my direct manager six weeks before she finally sat down with me for our first introductory onboarding meeting. It kept getting delayed because client meetings took priority. Even though this was far from her intention, the message I received was loud and clear: the company cared more about its clients than its own people.”

—Janice Radomsky, brand strategist, New York, NY

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