Meet Mary. She's a motivated, hardworking employee. Mary's been with her current company for more than three years. She loves her job and her co-workers and feels like she's paid fairly and receives great benefits. But Mary's still looking for a new job with a new company.
What's scary for a lot of employers is that Mary is not alone. An October 2015 Gallup poll of more than 13,000 employees found that the last time respondents changed roles in their career, 93 percent also changed employers. Considering this, many employers are desperately trying to figure out why so many employees are leaving.
Employee retention is no longer only about making employees happy in the present -- employers also have to consider their satisfaction with the future. Here are three reasons employees feel they need to leave a company and how to make them want to stick around:
1. Employers are not helping them define their career path.
A 2015 report from LinkedIn surveyed more than 10,500 workers who had changed jobs and found that 59 percent of respondents did so because of better opportunities and a stronger career path. For a bit of perspective, only 54 percent took a new job because the compensation was better.
For employees, the ability to grow and continue on their career path is extremely important. They're waiting for employers to show them how they can do that within their current company. To help employees define their career paths, ask them where they need assistance. Everybody has their own goals and expectations for their career and, unless employers discuss this with their employees, it's near impossible to be a part of that growth.
Start a dialogue with each employee about what they'd like to be doing in five, 10 and 15 years. Find out what skills they want to acquire or sharpen, and tell them which they need to be successful. Then develop a plan and keep track of their progress.
Most importantly, give them the tools they'll need. Offer leadership training, work experience in a variety of departments and mentorship programs as ways to invest in an employee's future. This will help employees meet their professional goals, and help employers retain well-trained, high-performing talent.
2. Employees' success is not tied to the company's success.
Everybody likes to know that the work they do impacts their company. However, most employees are compensated for their performance, not how they affect the company's success. They are part of the process, not the result.
Giving employees stock options or shares of the profits rewards them for how their work has improved the company as a whole. It makes them feel like a more integral part of the organization, instead of just a cog in the machine. Receiving profit-shares or company stocks strengthens the relationship employers have with their employees. It tells them that employers recognize that the company's future relies on them as much as it does on the founders or the CEO.
3. Employers don't promote from within.
In the Global Recruiting Trends 2016 report from LinkedIn, 32 percent of the 3,800 talent acquisition professionals surveyed said employee retention was a top priority for their organization. Surprisingly, internal hires was only a priority for 12 percent. So it's no wonder that the vast majority of employees feel the need to leave their company to advance when so few organizations are focusing on their current employees to fill workforce holes.
If a new management position is available, don't go running straight to the job boards to find a candidate. Turn to current employees. Even if they don't have all of the necessary skills and experience right now, they do understand how the company works and what their co-workers want and expect from a superior. These are important insights it can take an outsider months to understand.
The other benefit of promoting a high performer to a new position is that employers control how fast the transition is. This way, employers can ease them into new responsibilities and out of old ones at a pace that allows them to get their bearings in the new role. This chain of promotion that ensues is less jarring to the company.
For example, if Mary is promoted, she'll still be in the office to train Jeff, the employee the company promoted to fill Mary's old job. Jeff, in turn, can offer guidance to Ken, who'll now be performing Jeff's previous duties -- and so on. Less time and resources can be spent on training outside employees and, as issues arise in the future, there is an expert on hand to help.
What other factors are pushing employees to new companies, and how can you address them to improve employee retention?
A version of this story appeared on Entrepreneur.com.