Gone are the days where we could quickly backfill critical roles. With record low unemployment, increased time-to-fill, and rising hiring costs, many organizations are reevaluating their retention strategies. To perfect such a strategy, you have to first understand what, exactly, drives employees out the door.

According to a recent ADP study, voluntary employee turnover accounts for as much as 70% of all attrition. So, why are they leaving? A clash with a manager, workplace hierarchy, or opportunities for advancement? Let’s take a look at the facts.

ADP analyzed data from over 12.5 million employees, representing 41,000 companies, and determined the top drivers of attrition. We’ve broken down the top three below.

1. Compensation and promotions

Salaries and promotions continue to lead as the primary drivers of employee turnover. When employees feel either under or unfairly paid, they’re more receptive to new employment opportunities.

Further, over 70% of employees leave because they see no future advancement in their current role. If there’s little room for growth, there are even fewer opportunities for notable pay bumps.

2. Overtime and hours worked

We often discuss, track, and report back on hours and work schedules of our non-exempt workforce. But how often do we consider exempt employees? Are they affected by working additional hours?

The short answer: yes.

ADP found that both populations felt the impact of consistently being asked to work more hours than initially agreed or expected. Overtime and hours worked were the second most common predictor of burnout and turnover. This tells us one important thing: your employees’ time is one of the most valuable assets to your organization—as well as one of its most considerable risks.

3. Employee commute

The first two drivers of voluntary turnover likely don’t surprise you. They’ve been at the top of the list for years. The third driver, however, might surprise you: the commute. Employers rarely consider how time, distance, and the commute itself impacts their workforce—big mistake.

A recent LinkedIn study showed that 85% of employees surveyed said that they’d be willing to take a pay cut if it meant a shorter commute to work. With that data in mind, it’s safe to say the commute is problematic for your workforce, and later, your organization.

We’ll always see some variations from company to company, as well as industry to industry. Surprisingly, ADP found that compensation, hours worked, and the commute is consistent across most U.S. organizations in the study.

Even without a custom predictive attrition model for your organization, you can implement talent management processes that help mitigate these risks. Here’s how.

How to improve your retention strategy

Consider the following recommendations to help improve retention at your organization:

  1. Ensure your organization has an equitable compensation philosophy. By implementing open compensation programs and decisions, and communicating them correctly, you can avoid much of the compensation-related attrition risk.

  2. Coach managers on the signs of employee burnout and provide resources that’ll help them intervene. Bear in mind that some employees won’t tell you when they’re overworked, so it’s critical that managers act proactively and quickly to mitigate the risk.

  3. Gain a better understanding of how your employees’ commute is impacting them and the organization, such as issuing a commuter survey.

Interested in mitigating attrition risk by improving employee commutes? Visit takescoop.com/partners to learn how.

Charlie Knuth

Charlie Knuth

Charlie Knuth is Head of Commuter Insights at Scoop, overseeing research into how the commute impacts individuals, businesses, and communities across the country. Outside of the office, you can find him on ski slopes around the world.

1 Comment


Rich Branning · July 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Well done Charlie. Commute is such a big issue. Would love to get you in front of HR and Finance folks.

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