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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Equipment10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad To Share Positive Message
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More