If you want to know how to improve employee retention, you need to know why employees quit and Work Institute’s exit interview gives you a great place to start.

The vast majority of employees who quit could have been retained, according to Work Institute which conducted over 234,000 exit interviews.

Roughly 30 percent of employees will leave their jobs in 2018 to work somewhere else. “Employee turnover is anticipated to hit record highs and cost U.S. companies more than $600 billion in 2018,” Danny Nelms, President of Work Institute, writes in his introduction.

From 2009 to 2017 the unemployed persons to jobs ratio fell from 7:1 to 1:1. The national average for open jobs has seen an inconceivable 141 percent increase since 2009. Work Institute expects the number of employees leaving their jobs to increase as involuntary turnover will continue to decline (by 25 percent over the next two years).

Why Do Employees Leave?

A lack of career development was the most common reason employees left their jobs in 2017 (for the eighth consecutive year). More than 30 percent left their jobs because of the type of work, either because they wanted to change industries and do something different or because they found a better opportunity. Over 20 percent left their jobs because there wasn’t a chance to acquire new skills, or because promotion and advancement didn’t seem possible. Almost 20 percent left their jobs to go back to school and advance their careers, or because it was too overwhelming to balance work and school.

More than 10 percent of employees quit because of a poor work-life balance regarding their company’s schedule, commute, flexibility or travel. In their explanations for their responses employees said their employer lacked flexibility for new parents or those dealing with a family emergency, had them travel too frequently, wouldn’t allow them to switch shifts, or they found a job with an easier commute.

Manager behavior was another main driver for turnover, primarily, for 35 percent of employees a managers unprofessionalism was enough to drive them away. For almost 20 percent it was a lack of support or poor employee treatment. Management behavior that employees took issue with included: supervisors using inappropriate language, yelling at them in public, failing to stand up for their team with upper management, communicating poorly, uppermanagement staff that was either hostile or overly friendly with one another, favoritism and inconsistency in management practices.

Workers also left for their jobs in favor of their own well-being, citing personal issues, life challenges or medical issues. Or because of compensation and benefits, for example, one worker said they left because they had been with the company for 8 years without a single raise.

Other workers left because of unfavorable job characteristics, like being overloaded or underscheduled. And finally, six percent of employees left because of the work environment, most commonly because of problematic co-workers or an unfavorable culture.

What Can Employers Do to Retain Employees?

Employers can use the information from Work Institute’s report to target areas of their organizations that could be contributing to the main drivers of turnover, but they’ll have to evaluate which categories are most applicable to their business. Work Institute notes that each organization has its own unique drivers for turnover, for example, one company loses employees mostly due to relocation and retirement while another company loses them because of job characteristics or compensation and benefits.

New employees accounted for 40 percent of turnover in 2017, almost a 20 percent hike from 2016, giving an area for most businesses to target for improvement. An effective onboarding process has to be a priority for companies looking to reduce turnover. Schedule, compensation and type of work were the top three reasons employees left in the first year. Setting up realistic expectations in the interview and the onboarding process can help improve new hire retention.