Why employees leave: The importance of job-fit

Do you know why your employees leave? Is it the workplace culture? Is it the lack of career progression? Is it the pay? In this video, I discuss the importance of job-fit, why it impacts your employee turnover rates, and what you can do to make sure that you hire the right talent for your roles. 

Employees leave for different reasons. As small business owners, the goal is to make sure that our team members are happy and productive because it’s good for our business. We want to make sure we keep the right talent.  

In a previous 3-part video series, I discussed common factors that cause employee turnover, how to maintain low employee turnover, and how to manage these factors to improve overall employee morale. The factors I discussed in these videos focus on factors external to the employee, such as lack of career development, unhealthy team culture, and demanding work schedules. However, these aren’t the only factors that cause employees to quit. One important factor that determines whether an employee stays or leaves is job-fit. It is a crucial factor that is often overlooked. 

Job-fit is crucial because it is something that we cannot solve. We can work on our team culture, institute professional development programs, and manage team workload—but job-fit is a problem best solved at the source: hiring.  

I came across an interesting study that explains why job-fit is important. This study explains why training and mentoring alone will not solve most job-fit problems. The research focused on employee turnover of a restaurant, and explores why some waitstaff thrive in the restaurant, while others don’t.  

Let’s imagine the kind of work environment that the average waitstaff works in. Typically, waitstaff get requests from different patrons, and almost always at the same time. When customers are seated in their tables, the waitstaff will explain the menu, take orders, make notes about substitutions or special requests. They will then relay these orders to the kitchen staff, paying special attention to any special requests they receive from guests. But in the walk from the table to the kitchen, they might be asked by customers from other tables for utensils or napkins—or perhaps even be asked to take additional orders. Someone might approach them to follow up on their orders or be asked for directions to the nearest toilet. Another customer might come up to ask for the restaurant’s WiFi password.  

As you can imagine, the job entails being disrupted throughout their shift. Some people thrive in these environments, perhaps even enjoying the challenge of holding on to a lot of information and slowly ticking off each item on their mental to-do list without ever missing a bit. Others, I can imagine, will find this situation very chaotic and difficult. 

At this point, it is important to note at this point that there is nothing wrong with a person who cannot thrive in a chaotic environment such as a restaurant during peak hours. It takes a particular disposition to do so. But this only means that the right waitstaff to thrive in this environment is someone who can perform well under these conditions. 

This is when job-fit becomes a factor in employee turnover. Some people, despite their best efforts and more training, will not thrive in certain environments. There’s nothing wrong with that—that is normal. We can’t be everything, we’re only human. But we all have our strengths. And someone who owns and runs a busy restaurant need to find people who can thrive in a fast-paced environment where frequent interruptions are to be expected. It is important to find the right fit—otherwise, people will leave.  

Having the right job-fit keeps people motivated to work. Why? Because nobody wants to feel incompetent. If the job doesn’t fit, it will surely make people feel incompetent. 

People stay when they feel competent. Some skills can be developed. Some can be trained to gain better knowledge. But remember the saying: hire for attitude and train for aptitude.  

In the restaurant example above, the ability to thrive despite interruptions is an innate disposition that is difficult to train people for. It’s something innate in the person, a way of doing things. You may find a person can be very qualified for a job on paper, based on training and certain skills. However, for certain positions, it requires a certain attitude or nature.  

For example, I do not see myself working as a professional athlete—I do not have the talent in sports required to perform at that level. I don’t see myself working with animals—while I do love dogs and pets, I don’t have the disposition to help heal sick animals. But I have the right attitude to become a coach, which requires a level of empathy and ability to establish rapport with people. 

As business owners and managers, we need to choose wisely for the roles in our team and in our businesses. We also need to know what we can do to make sure that our team members feel competent. Do they need more training? Do they need more mentoring? Do they need to have special qualities to succeed in these roles? And we must be honest when we see that they don’t fit their roles.  



Get Your
Free Insights

pdf insights

More To Explore

Get the latest business tips.

Grow your Business, Enhance your Mindset

Subscribe for the latest business tips & company news.