5 tips for avoiding employee turnover

Author - Simon Østervig. Market Manager

All managers and companies are concerned with holding on to the right employees. Nevertheless, about one in five Danish employees say that they wish to leave their place of work within a year according to Ennova's Global Employee and Leadership Index survey GELx. A third of these have absolutely no patience to wait even this long. For them it is a case of “the sooner the better”!

Employees who wish to leave their jobs within a year can be divided into two very different types of employees: Run away employees and Walk away employees.


Run away employees are those who say that they wish to leave their place of work as soon as possible. They have to kick themselves’ backside in order to get out of bed and go to work in the morning. They have a very low engagement, feel uncomfortable at work, and will not in a million years recommend others to apply for a job in the company.

These employees have mentally resigned from their job. Although they are very dissatisfied, they no longer engage in trying to change their conditions for the better. They think that the work is uninteresting and they do not think their abilities are not being optimally used. They are dissatisfied with all aspects of their job, workplace, and not the least the management. 

The three main reasons for Run away employees leaving their jobs are:

  1. the working environment
  2. senior management
  3. the desire for new challenges

There is a risk that Run away employees do not carry out their wish to leave as soon as possible. The fact is that they often see very few alternative job opportunities. And their very low engagement most likely affect their energy level and confidence in selling themselves in a job application and at a subsequent interview. But there may also be other factors that prevent them from leaving. Surveys show that the main reasons for employees with low engagement to remain in their current jobs are almost always job security, financial obligations and family ties (read more in the article: Why employees stay).


Walk away employees are not as busy leaving their place of work as Run away employees are. But they dream about leaving their job within a year. They continue to be engaged in the company, suggest improvements on a regular basis and are always ready to help out when needed. They are good at their job and are even outgoing in relation to the personal development opportunities that the company offers them. But they do not feel that their full potential is being realized and do not think that the work they do is sufficiently interesting. They want to do something different, something more, and move on from their current job.

The main reasons for Walk away employees leaving their place of work are

  • the desire for new/different challenges
  • career
  • salary
  • personal reasons

This reveals a picture of employees who have grown out of their jobs. They are no longer challenged by the content of the job and are desperate to try something new and something more. They are bored by their work and are half as efficient while they are waiting to find something else.

It is precisely these employees that can be difficult to identify, as from the outside, they seem happy and satisfied with their work and tasks. This means that the management is faced with a major and significant task in recognizing them. Because this is employees, you want to keep.


It can be difficult to identify employees who wish to leave the company, regardless of whether they are Run away or Walk away employees. They do not usually share their wishes openly. In my experience though, you as a manager can use some basic steps to avoid that too many employees wish to leave their place of work. Here are five of them:


Everyone wants to be seen and heard – and not just in the annual or quarterly PDDs. So get closer to your employees on a daily basis. Employees will often stay and do their best when they feel appreciated and important. This may sound obvious, but paradoxically, more than 50 percent of managers worldwide say that they spend less than 25 percent of their time on management. 25 percent even say that they simply do not have time to manage their employees.


Engage your employees and give them the freedom to make decisions. Employees usually take personal responsibility for their tasks and own development when they can see and feel that they are making a difference – this enhances the desire to improve their skills.


It is normal to take the lowest common denominator as a starting point after an employee survey. Instead, you should focus on making what is good about your company visible. By focusing on the strengths of your employees and what they need to do more of, you paint a picture of a possible future to which employees can aspire, instead of just looking at what they should not do.


Employees want to make a difference. They want to contribute to something larger than themselves. You should therefore ensure that your employees are able to see themselves and their tasks in a broader context. This gives them an insight into how their daily efforts are significant for the entire company. 


In general, employees who are informed feel more appreciated. Employees want to be part of something that does not have a heap of hidden agendas – they want transparency. They want to experience honesty - whether it may be good or bad.


These were five suggestions for how to make your employees happy (or happier) and to keep them from becoming employees who wish to leave as soon as possible.

If you nonetheless have a Run away employee who does not wish to stay in the company, it is your responsibility as a manager to help the employee onward to new challenges.

Simon Østervig. Market Manager

Simon Østervig. Market Manager

Simon has more than twenty years’ experience consulting on employee surveys for some of the largest international companies in Scandinavia. A sharp strategist and brilliant lecturer.