Why great employees leave

What do employees want? Their answer might be the secret to keeping the best ones around, says CNNMoney's Anne Fisher in Mary David's post "Here's Why Good Employees Quit."

David whittles the list of why employees quit — from work/life balance and conflict to micro-management and lack of communication — down to four top reasons why the best go packing and jeopardize company sustainability:

1. Poor reward system. It starts with a decent paycheck, but extends into recognition: additional vacation time, extra responsibility, a promotion, a pay raise, or a bonus. When employers find out what each employee values, they can help improve rewards on an individual basis.

2. Management. Employees need recognition and rewards from upper management — not just middle management — to stay happy and loyal. Good managers on both levels need skills at managing processes and motivating people.

3. Hiring/promotions. When good workers work harder than people who get promoted sooner than they do, they'll leave. "Hiring and promoting for favoritism is a major way to alienate good workers," says David.

4. Too much work. Great workers generally get more work piled onto their plates. But when it becomes too much to handle, great workers can burn out. "Being an excellent worker can be a blessing and a curse," says David. "It’s great for a boss to recognize employees are good, but the reward for that shouldn’t always be to pour on the workload."

So what determines if a great employee will stick around? Just ask her. "Ultimately the culture of an organization determines the scope of employee retention.... If you see someone doing great work, recognize it and reward it but don’t forget to find out how you can empower them to continuously deliver," adds David.

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