Why do employees leave a company?

It's a complex issue and not easily defined, according to John W. Seybolt, dean of the University of Utah College of Business and Graduate School of Business.There is no sure way of telling when people will leave a company, but who leaves a company has an impact. For example, Seybolt said, a poorly performing person is "seldom mourned," but the loss of a highly productive person can cause stress.

The best way to tell when an employee is leaving a company is to listen to that person's intentions, because a high correlation exists between what a person says and what he or she does, Seybolt said during the opening session of the Business at Breakfast series at Little America.

Speaking about employment tenure and studies he has completed on retention of high-performing employees, Seybolt said there are several stages of employment, and each group of employees has ideas on how long they intend to work for a business.

The first group is "raw recruits" with less than six months of service. The new employee is the least likely to leave a company.

Seybolt called the second group the "young Turks." These workers have been on the job six months to one year and become the most likely group to change jobs.

The third group is composed of the skeptics, employees who have worked for a company one to three years and are concerned about being satisfied with their growth within the company.

The "burnout candidates" have three to six years of service. If these employees express an intent to leave, they should be shown that their jobs are important.

Seybolt said the final group is the "old guard." The employees in this group have worked for a company longer than six years. They receive the least attention from supervisors, and even though they are the least likely group to leave, they need the most attention from supervisors.