How to Create Happy Quitters

Alli Isaacs
March 14, 2017


It’s inevitable that employees will leave their organizations at some point. So what can we do, at the very least, to craft an environment that creates “happy quitters” or maybe even potential boomerang employees? Foster great leaders that care about their employees regardless of their next step.

While most might say that good people leave bad bosses, good people also leave great bosses. If you really stop and think about it, great managers foster great employees who become hot talent in the job market. This creates more opportunities for the employee to be great anywhere they go.

Does this mean we need to stop developing our employees into admirable people? Absolutely not. When an employee does leave the organization, he or she will have nothing but praise for your company. Think of your employees as future partners, especially after they’ve moved on to another job. They can transfer into proud alumni, boosting your image by talking up their time spent with you.

The flipside to all of this is the cost of turnover, especially for top talent. According to Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin of Deloitte, “many studies show that the total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2X annual salary.” These costs can include onboarding for a new hire, lost productivity and engagement, and even cultural impacts. Here are a few key ways to ensure you have a top-notch employee engagement strategy, making you a top-choice employer:

Create a fun and flexible work environment

If work isn’t fun, then no one wants to be there. Do you still have to get the work done and maintain professionalism? Absolutely. But sprinkling in some fun will allow personal connections to flow into the workplace, creating camaraderie amongst co-workers. Making time for fun means allowing room for life to happen inside the office. When managers create overly-regulated workplaces, there’s no space for growth of culture and relationships.

Make work feel meaningful to the employee

Allow your employees to see all areas of the organization. Show them how their day-to-day work ties into the overall strategic goals of the business. Folks can get stuck in the monotony of their daily work and never look up long enough to see the big picture. Giving them insight into broader goals creates meaning in their work and instills a strong purpose in an organization.

Performance matters – recognize the good and don’t ignore the bad

There is nothing more frustrating than being a top performer and being treated as an equal to a poor performer. You can be respectful and fair and still give favor and recognition to your top folks. Whatever you do, do not be a manager that tolerates poor performance. Soon enough, your top performers will leave you in the dust with only poor performers at your side.

Bottom line: Build strong leadership and management practices that creates and fosters top performers. Be great managers that recognize good talent and aren’t afraid to invest in good people for the fear of losing them. And, if for any reason at all great performers leave your walls, treat them kindly and with respect. Celebrate their next career move and just maybe you’ll have a “happy quitter” that becomes your organization’s biggest advocate in the community! 

Your Guide to Developing a Strong Company Culture