When you hire someone new, you invest a lot of time and money up front. In fact, The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the cost of each new hire is more than $4,000 for the average business.

Plus, once you’ve found a great new employee and integrated them into the team, they become a well of institutional knowledge that can be invaluable. And when you find someone who performs well, is a team player, and really embraces your business’s mission, you want to do everything possible to keep them around.

But sometimes owners and managers make decisions or engage in behavior that drives away their most promising talent. We’ll take a look at the biggest reason your best and brightest choose to leave, and what you can do to keep them instead.

The Reason They Leave: Lack of Respect

There are a number of specific reasons that a rockstar employee may leave your company, but it can all be boiled down to one overarching theme: they’re not being treated with respect.

We’re taught from a young age to live by “the golden rule” and treat others as we’d like to be treated, but sometimes when you’re running a company you’re so caught up in revenue and logistics and an overflowing inbox that you lose sight of this very simple principle.

There are a number of ways you might be behaving disrespectfully towards your employees–and most of the time it’s not conscious or malicious–but if you’re engaging in any of these behaviors, it might be driving away your best talent.

You’re Not Respecting Their Intellect and Creativity

Every stellar employee wants to feel the satisfaction of showing up and doing their best work. They have a lot to give, both in terms of ability and ingenuity, and they want to work in an environment where their innate talents are allowed to shine.

If you’re a boss who doesn’t set the bar high enough, who micromanages and takes the fun out of creative problem solving, or who excludes your employees from the “big picture” talks about strategy and vision, it’s likely your best employees will grow bored and disaffected.

Once that happens, they’ll begin searching for a new company where their boss will show them respect by allowing them the freedom to unleash their greatest potential.

You’re Not Respecting Their Contributions

It can be easy to fall into the trap of not recognizing the work of a great employee. They are by definition self-motivated and always give their best to each project, so you may assume they don’t need positive feedback to do great work. Not only that, you may forget (or take for granted) how great their work is because they’re so consistently excellent.

However, dedicated employees do want to be recognized by their bosses. As this study outlined in Psychology Today points out, the vast majority of employees rank recognition as being even more important than money. Sending an email thanking someone for their efforts or arranging a small gesture like a pizza lunch for the team after completing a big project can make an enormous difference in retention.

You’re Not Respecting Their Time

A recent Ernst & Young study found that three of the top six factors that employees cited when discussing the decision to leave a role had to do with a lack of work-life balance.

The best employees want to dedicate themselves fully to the tasks at hand, but if you start to take advantage of this natural tendency towards loyalty, the star employees find themselves taking on more and more responsibility–keeping them in the office later, encroaching on their weekends, and creeping into vacation time.

Think about what you can do to best respect your employee’s time. Arianna Huffington recently shared her company’s innovative approach to honoring vacation time with Harvard Business Review: while employees are away, their email server alerts senders the person is out of office and automatically deletes all incoming email.

If the email is important, the sender can reach out again once the employee is back; if not, the email is not left clogging up the inbox, tempting the employee to log on while they should be relaxing.

The best employees are the ones who are internally motivated, who show up ready to do their best work as a point of pride rather than working just for a paycheck. When you don’t treat them with respect, you risk losing them to a competitor. But when you show appreciation for their talents, input, and time, you create a loyal employee who’s in it for the long run.

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Meredith Wood
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.

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