Why Employees Leave

One of the biggest challenges in successfully managing an agronomy retail operation is keeping your top employees. Every day, we visit with retailers across the country that are lamenting over the loss of a key employee and need us to find a suitable replacement. Unfortunately, when we ask these organizations about why the employee left, they are almost always focused on the wrong reason — MONEY!

Higher compensation may seem like a perfectly common and logical reason for employees to leave. In fact, a recent survey has shown that 89% of employers feel that money is the primary reason that employees leave. However, when the departed employees were interviewed, 88% of them left for reasons other than money. That’s correct — only 12% of employees leave for better compensation!

Not Listening

There is a quote that best explains this scenario: “Managers will not hear, what employees are not saying.”

Think about this for a moment. This is a powerful quote that really speaks to that heart of this problem. If a manager is not 100% engaged with their direct reports, it is very unlikely that they will understand the true reason why that employee is leaving, and they will certainly be too late to prevent that employee from departing. Let’s face it, a disengaged manager will be the last person to find out an employee is leaving. At that point, a counteroffer is your only hope. However, we can assure you that in our experience more than 75% of people accepting a counteroffer from an employer to stay will be gone in less than 12 months, with the remaining 25% leaving in the next 24 months.

Why? Because it probably wasn’t about the money and the real reasons that motivated them to leave haven’t changed!

The best way to understand why employees leave is to look at some of the data that has been compiled in recent industry surveys by the Gallup organization. If you are one of the 89% of employers that feels your employees are leaving for money, you may be surprised at the results.
•  16% of employees left due to limited career growth or opportunity.
•  13% of employees left due to lack of respect or support from their supervisor.
•  12% of employees left for higher compensation.
•  10% left because they felt their job duties were unchallenging.
•  9% left as a result to their supervisors lack of leadership skills.
•  6% left for better work hours.
•  5% of employees left for unavoidable reasons (birth of child, family relocation, illness of family member, etc.).
•  4% left due to a lack of recognition.
•  4% left because of favoritism (to other employees) by supervisor.
•  3% of employees sought a new position as a result of a supervisors poor employee relations.
•  3% took a new opportunity due poor working conditions.
•  3% of employees left their position due to lack of training, or to find an opportunity that provided more training.
•  2% of job changers say they left due to “supervisors incompetence.”
•  2% of employees left an organization because they didn’t trust or support the senior leadership.
•  1% took a new position because they believed their supervisors lack of technical skills were impacting their success.
•  1% of departures were a result of discrimination.
•  1% left due to harassment.
•  1% sought better benefits.
•  1% became disgruntled and left due to co-workers attitudes.

This list is a very good representation of our industry. As recruiters, we talk to hundreds of disgruntled employees each week, and the reasons (and percentages) listed here are quite accurate. As you review this list, there is one glaring thing that should stand out to you — over 75% of employees leave because of a supervisor’s actions, or lack of engagement with that employee! Think about this. How many employee departures could have been prevented if the manager was engaged with the employee and could work through the concerns BEFORE they looked for a new opportunity?

It’s understandable that it’s often difficult to stay engaged with every employee when you have many reporting to you. However, there are some definite warning signs that should alert you to an employee feeling they have unmet expectations:
•  They ask fewer questions than they used to.
•  Sudden change in demeanor.
•  Avoid greeting you or making eye contact.
•  Stop participating in meetings or discussions.
•  They ask a lot of questions about a particular issue, and you have your doubts about their willingness to meet the expectation.
•  Increased absence.
•  Decrease in performance.

At The Ag Retail Level

The physical demands and drastic swings in workload and time commitment of the retail agronomy business can make employee retention a nearly insurmountable challenge. However, the key to preventing that turnover is to understand what truly motivates your employees and what you can do to keep them motivated. When you consider the gradual unfolding process of employee disengagement, and their desire to seek a new opportunity, there can be only one conclusion: The need for managers to initiate action to engage and re-engage employees is urgent, and is a daily opportunity.

Retaining Employees

In 2009, Ag1Source provided an article to CropLife detailing how companies could keep their best employees in challenging times. Here are the 10 major points to consider on that topic:
10) Compensation
9) Culture
8) Expansion of responsibility, Growth
7) Promotion
6) Training
5) Take me home
4) Personality Matches Job/Organizations
3) Personality Meshes with Supervisor
2) Leadership
1) Work-Life Balance

As you think across your current group of salespeople for example, they probably fall into three groups. Here are some situations and questions you can ask to show you are engaged with your team. We’ll group these questions along their stage of development within the business.

First, the newbies that started with you in the last 24 months. Their needs from a supervisor fall into the coaching and teaching areas more often than not. Your engagement can keep them from leaving you by coaching them past the hard work of spring or wondering where they go from here once they figure out being a sales agronomist.

Second, your sales agronomists that have been with you for two to five years and have most things figured out. This group needs less coaching on product and services and more on share of wallet or territory expansion. You will probably have less contact with this group than the newbies, but one-on-one conversations about “where can you get your territory and how can I help” will allow them see your engagement and desire to keep them around.

Third, your top salespeople that have been around for a while still need that pat on the back, but as we talk with sales agronomists with big books of business, they usually want management to remove problems for them. This group doesn’t need much coaching or teaching, they simply want to know where the organization is going and what their role is to be. Ask them how you can remove obstacles to their performance or the company’s performance.

It’s easy as managers to fall back into command and control types of communication with our business. Spring can be tough on us all and barking orders can be all too easy. However, across our employee base, they all need to hear you are engaged throughout the year, not just looking for someone to march when commanded to do so. Engage all of your employees, but especially your best so you know their career goals and ambitions and you’ll keep them around for the long haul.

Leave a Reply

Employees Stories

EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More
EmployeesHead Start Program Prepares The Next Generation Of Ag Retailers
April 7, 2014
Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, in partnership with the Asmark Institute, are offering the Head Start Program to prepare students for work at ag retail facilities. Read More
EmployeesThree Keys To Employee Success
March 3, 2014
Increasing employee performance becomes much easier when managers follow these three simple things. Read More

Trending Articles

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More

Latest News

Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More